Friday, August 7, 2020

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Review

This book The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Novel By Grady Hendrix kept popping up on lists of books I would like. I like reading about vampires, so I gave it a shot! It's an easy read and I think it's less about vampires and more about a late 1980s/ 1990s version of The Stepford Wives but with a satisfying ending.

***Warning Spoilers***

The book focuses on Patricia Campbell, a suburban housewife in Charleston that belongs to a book club. The club is small and they read true crime novels. Over the years, despite differing lives, they come together monthly to talk passionately about murder. 

None of them seem to work, I think it's mentioned that one of them helps out at a church. All of their husbands are the breadwinners and they just follow their wifely duties. They are very polite and reserved. Honestly, it was a little hard for me to relate. I have a business that keeps me from home more than 40 hours a week, I don't have kids, and if I don't like something I'll communicate that. These ladies are a little too reserved and passive. Not sure if it's a Southern thing? Maybe a 1980s thing? 

Then a new man moves down the street, and Patricia is involved with a violent crime. The crime is committed by his great aunt. She ends up checking in on him and he begins to ingrain himself into her life. In the meantime, kids go missing on the far side of town and she witnesses this new neighbor attacking one of them. I should mention he's not a vampire in the traditional way we know them...fangs...neck. He has a bug-like appendage that comes from his jaw that latches on to the inner thigh of his victim. That's one hell of an UNsexy vampire in my mind.

The first half of the book is the set up, we know he's a monster already. No mystery there. The second half is how is Patricia going to prove it. He's charming to everyone and has become a member of "the boys club" with all the husbands. Speaking of husbands, her's is awful. He has absolutely no redeeming qualities. He's a workaholic, takes her for granted, gaslights her, is a know-it-all, blames everything on her, and is completely useless. So useless that when his mother dies she and her book club friends organize the funeral etc. He contributes his paycheck ~ that's it. Her husband prescribes her Prozac to numb her thoughts because she questions too much. There's a lot of silencing of women in this book that I found much more disturbing than the actual violence.

Flash forward three years later. She drops trying to prove her neighbor is evil because he has brought everyone around him great wealth with an investment in real estate. Construction is booming and money is flowing. Then Patricia has a vision from her dead mother in law. It tells her that the neighbor is going to take her kids and she needs to wake up. This sparks her investigation again.

In the end the book club ladies band together and do the right thing. They are calculated and prepared because it's what they know from life and reading crime novels. Never underestimate the power of a determined group of women.

Overall the book is very timely. It involves race relations, feminism, the popularity of serial killers, and how money can make you blind to all the glaring red flags. Some things that were never cleared up... the cover of the book is misleading because there's are no fangs mentioned. It's described as more of a full-on bite. Some of the supporting characters need a resolution... Grace needs a divorce and there might be a sequel with Slick being raped and having something "growing inside her". Needless to say it should come with a trigger warning. I enjoyed it and found it suspenseful because I wanted to know the ending. I plan to check out the author's other books too. 


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