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Book Review
By

Jose B. Gonzalez


Happy Hour at Casa Dracula
By Marta Acosta, Pocket (2006)
ISBN:
978-1416520382

 

           Years ago if someone had told me that a book about a Latina who finds herself smitten by vampires would be published by a relatively large publishing house, I would have laughed--but perhaps not as hard as when I read this book.  Marta Acosta has to be one of the sharpest-witted contemporary Latina authors.
           This novel is a love story--albeit one mixed with zany characters and ironic twists. Milagro de Los Santos, the protagonist, is a writer who gets mixed up with the "wrong people," or more specifically, Oswald, a vampire who "infects" her.  She is boy-crazy and at the same time, vulnerable, falling in love with men who are not the best match for her. As she tries to make sense of her attraction to Oswald and the world around her, she winds up in a home full of vampires who care for her in their own way.  There is some of what we would expect in a vampire novel--the erotic, the dangerous, the mysterious, but what truly stands out in this story is the character of Milagro.  She never takes herself too seriously, and that is precisely why it is so easy to laugh at her exploits.
          This book is a fun read.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Those expecting more from a book about vampires should look elsewhere.  Acosta's creative imagination moves the plot forward with funny line after funny line.  In fact, her use of humor is a bit reminiscent of Louie Garcia Robinson's The Devil, Delfina Varela and the Used Chevy (1993), which was so outrageous that it had the makings of a Cantinflas movie. 
Happy Hour at Casa Dracula does not have the same combination of social commentary and humor as works by a novelist like Edgardo Vega Yunque, but then again, that is not really its purpose.
          In part, this book is a credit to the tremendous growth of the Chica Lit market.  I know that some authors don't consider it a compliment to have their books classified as such, but when a book gets into detail about women's clothing and women's conversations about sex, is it really written with both genders equally in mind?  The fact is that this is still a very creative work and although we're in the middle of winter, I'd say it's a good, fun, summer read. 

 

Jose B. Gonzalez is the Editor of LatinoStories.Com, the Co-Editor of Latino Boom: Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature, and an award-winning poet and educator who has been a featured speaker at various colleges and universities nationwide.