The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires
by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“I am not sure what the appropriate gesture is to make toward the family of the woman who bit off your ear, but if you felt absolutely compelled, I certainly wouldn’t take food.”Grace Cavanaugh to Patricia Campbell, p. 62
It’s the early 90s in South Carolina, and Patricia Campbell is a housewife with two kids in a nice neighborhood. Along with a number of other local ladies, she is a member of a book club that meets monthly. Their husbands think it’s a Bible Study group. Really, they read a lot of true crime. And if there’s one thing those books have taught her, it’s that you probably shouldn’t trust the good-looking man who comes to town in a tinted-window van and ever-shifting accounts of his past. Especially if he claims to have a health condition that means he absolutely can’t go out in the sun, so you only ever see him after nightfall. And really, really especially if children start disappearing.
No one’s going to believe a bunch of book club ladies who say a vampire has moved in down the street. They’re going to have to take care of this themselves.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is a thriller with a core of steel magnolia feminism and 90s nostalgia. It was the perfect Halloween read for me, particularly since I recently finished a re-read of Dracula (by way of the Audible version with Simon Vance, Alan Cumming, and Tim Curry). There was at least one oh-I-see-what-you-did-there moment for me before the Big Reveal.
I used to be a big horror reader as a teen, then became the wimpiest wimp to ever wimp as an adult. Even I couldn’t resist this book, and I’m so glad I didn’t.
Content warnings for racism (both the racism and the classism of the time and place figure in the book, not uncritically), harm to children, harm to animals, and violence of a variety of kinds.
Source: Checked out from my public library – I downloaded a NetGalley copy months ago but didn’t get around to reading it until the book hit the shelves in print.
Challenges: Read Harder 2020 Task 22: A horror book published by an indie press