Friday, December 11, 2020

Book review: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix


Set in the 1990s, this is the story of a group of housewives who create a book club to read true crime books and escape a little from their everyday lives. More particularly, it's the story of Patricia Campbell and her friends and family. Patricia has a workaholic husband, two teenaged children, and is caring for her mother-in-law who is slowly losing her mind.

One night after a book club meeting, Patricia is rather viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor. Later they find out that the woman's nephew has been visiting her. And soon James Harris has wrangled invitations into all of their homes and the book club. He rapidly becomes a part of their community. 

Then children across town start to go missing. Patricia becomes convinced that James Harris has something to do with the disappearances. She's thinking serial killer, but that doesn't exactly describe him.

Billed as Steel Magnolias meets Dracula , the book lives up to its advertising. Patricia comes across as a real, conflicted woman who has unintentionally invited evil into her home and life. The other ladies are also individuals and not just carbon copies of what you would expect to find in their community. 

The monster, James Harris, is monstrous. We see and hear more about his deeds than him for a good part of the book. We see what's going on from Patricia's perspective for the most part. 

The plot moves along at a good pace appropriate for the story. There is a lull at one point, but it's the calm before the storm. And what happens in the lull goes to show just how much influence James Harris has on the community. The ending isn't exactly happily ever after, but it is satisfying.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. I felt like the take on vampires was original. The characters are well written. The pace suits the book. The story is well told. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy horror and vampire or monster stories. 

I'd like to add there are a few things that could be triggering: rape, suicide, graphic violence, gaslighting. 

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix was published April 7th, 2020 by Quirk Books.

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