The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Publication date: 07 April 2020
Page count: 352 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
I’m not much of a horror reader, however lately I have been dipping my toe into the genre and am loving what I’ve been read so far. Having recently finished My Best Friend’s Exorcism, I was so excited to pick up Hendrix’s new book, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. His trademark wit and humor balanced the truly horrifying elements of the book, making it a thrilling, hilarious, and fast-paced read that kept me up long past my bedtime.
Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.
Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.
But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.
True crime-obsessed ‘90s housewives who goes head to head with the vampire across the street in their middle class neighborhood? Sign me up! So much of this book was wonderfully unique, from the setting to the characters and even Hendrix’s take on vampires. I absolutely loved the South Carolina backdrop that blended Southern culture with the 1990’s flavour — it made for such a wonderfully atmospheric setting that you could sink right into. Hendrix’s characters are so wonderful because they’re not the standard heroines you see in novels — they’re the Southern housewives who are constantly overlooked by their husbands and their society who get to fight an ancient evil. They’re ordinary women who do extraordinary things, and I’m an absolute sucker for these kinds of characters.
I really loved Patricia as a main character. She’s certainly not perfect — she’s stressed, unhappy, and overly concerned about keeping up appearances with her neighbors. Much of the story is occupied by her struggles to keep her life in order as the strange and supernatural begins to keep in. Since we get her the story primarily from her point of view, we see past the layers of smiles and social niceties to see the real Patricia, the one who is frustrated by her husband’s overworking, her teenagers’ moods, and her totally ordinary life. One of my favourite aspects of the book is, of course, the book club. I love Patricia’s imperfect friendships with these women, and despite their incredibly different personalities and lives, as well as the conflicts that arise between them, their relationships grow and evolve. I love books with great depictions of female friendships, even if they’re not perfect, and this one is no exception.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires was such a wonderful escape from reality. Equal parts funny and horrifying, it’s a great horror read to read with all the lights on.
CW: Suicide and attempted suicide, rape, gore
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