The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires | Grady Hendrix | Book Review

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

PLOT: 4.5/5

“He thinks we’re what we look like on the outside: nice Southern ladies. Let me tell you something…there’s nothing nice about Southern ladies.”
Grady Hendrix, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires

My Musings

It was while browsing for the most popular horror reads of 2020 that I came across the book, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, and boy! I was immediately convinced that it is going to be my next read. Needless to state, I didn’t waste any time and quickly got myself a copy and got down to business. Read on to know what I feel about the book and how was my experience of reading it.

What to expect?

Expect a book set in small-town Southern America of the 1980s and 1990s. Expect a book that is scary but also funny at the same time. Expect a book that isn’t the spookiest read that you would read, but it will be eerie and ominous enough to scare you every once in a while. Expect a book that has enough satire, dark humor, and sarcasm to last you a year. Finally, expect a book that is one amazing entertainer.

Who can read?

The book, the references used, the setting, and the language itself is such that I think it will be more suited to regular readers than to beginners.

Let’s talk about the storyline

Patricia Campbell resides in the small town of Charleston in Southern U.S. It is the late 1980s, and Patricia often finds herself dealing with a lot more than she can handle. Her husband Carter is a workaholic who stays out late and is rarely home. Her kids are all grown up and spending time with her features last on their list. Her mother-in-law is senile, and Patricia is often overwhelmed with all the household duties and responsibilities.

Her book club consisting of five southern housewives is the only thing that keeps Patricia sane. The ladies meet every once in a while, to discuss true crime books, where they are as likely to talk about the infamous Manson family as they are to talk about their own families.

It is after one of the meetings at the book club, that Patricia is attacked by an elderly neighbor and is subsequently introduced to the neighbor’s handsome nephew, James Harris. James manages to ignite something in Patricia. His good looks, charming manners, travel stories, and bookish interests are enough to convince Patricia to invite James into her inner circle.

But when dreadful things start happening on the other side of the town and children go missing, Patricia has reasons to believe that James is the reason behind all this dreadful mess. Getting rid of James, however, will be much more difficult than Patricia had ever thought.

How good are the characters?

The characters are another aspect where the book manages to blows your mind. Unique and different in their own ways, Patricia and her group of friends are not your regular housewives. Instead, they go a long way in breaking all stereotypes. Enough attention and space have been given to all major characters so that the reader gets time enough to be invested in their stories.

The intensity with which the author made me hate Carter speaks a lot about his skill at character portrayals. While Carter is plain obnoxious, James is both intriguing and ominous. He possesses a sense of foreboding calm that both annoys and fascinates the reader.

What did I like?

The premise of the book itself is quite intriguing – a bunch of true crime aficionados who form a book club, and who deal with the real horror of the most seductive and dangerous kind – is something I would love to go back to, time and time again.

I also liked how creatively the section names have been arrived at. Each section is named after the book club pick of the month and the subtext tells us about the month and year. So, the chapter names read like The Bridges of Madison County, June 1993, Men are from Mars Women Are from Venus, November 1996, Helter Skelter, May 1993, etc.

A Running Social Commentary

The book reads like a running social commentary on the world that we live in and things that are wrong with it. It is an apt portrayal of how families (especially men) treat housewives; how they look down upon them, patronize them while always ready with the rhetoric – “what do you do all day?”

Themes of racial injustice and differential police treatment towards people of color have also been explored in the book. Female friendships have also been spoken about in all their vivid and realistic details.

What could have been better?

I liked the book in its entirety and just the way it is. I can’t think of anything I would like to change.

Let’s talk about the climax

The climax gives a befitting end to the story, although it doesn’t come without its fair share of violence and dark humour.

It all comes down to the entertainment quotient

There is no dearth of entertainment in the book. It is, in fact, quite full of it. Barring a few slowdowns in pace, the book doesn’t give you an opportunity to feel bored.

In the end

In the end, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is a book that deserves every bit of the hype that it is currently getting. It is a clever twist on traditional vampire fiction; one that seems like a perfect combination of Desperate Housewives and Dracula. 

The final verdict

Go for it!

Pick the book if

Skip the book if

  • Only if a book about vampires is not your idea of a spooky read.
  • You are looking for a book that scares the wits out of you.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” using the link below.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” using the link below.


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