Title: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires
Author: Grady Hendrix
Length: 404 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Source: Personal collection
Triggers: gross horror involving roaches and rats, misogyny, lynch mob
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.
This book was not what I expected. I heard that it had some gory and graphic scenes, but I was not prepared for the gross out horror involving rats and roaches that were so hard to read.
I also could not get over the misogyny in this book. The husbands completely dismissed their wives’ concerns and gaslit them every chance they got. The gender roles felt like something out of the 1950s, even though this book takes place in the ’90s. It made me so angry I could barely keep reading certain scenes, and I don’t think that level of sexism served a narrative purpose. I was also disappointed by the weak bonds between the housewives in the book club.
This book was very suspenseful and the ending had my heart racing, but overall I was disappointed in the characters and disturbed by much of the content of this book.