Title: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires
Author: Grady Hendrix
Rating: 4 Stars
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.
I love a good vampire book, and that's what I got with this book. It's definitely weird, quirky, and exactly what one can expect from Grady Hendrix.
This book starts with a book club and ends with a lot of blood and gore. Patty, the nurse turned housewife, lives with a husband who thinks she does nothing all day and two kids who spend most of the novel hating their mother. Patty and some of her friends start a new book club after getting frustrated with the old one. Watching their love of true crime develop in that book club was fun, and certainly gave insight into why Patty was so obsessed with their new neighbor...
The characters in this book were...over the top in some senses, which I would sort of expect from a Grady Hendrix novel at this point. (At the time, I've also finished another book of his, the review for which will be coming soon. The characters in his books are something else, in a good way.) I never really expect the characters in horror stories to be super well defined, but to be honest, most of my experience in the horror genre has been with cheesy late 90's movies like Scream and I Know What you Did Last Summer. So, going into this book, I was happy to see that the characters were very well written, and even though I hated them, I loved them. I actually liked most of the characters. James and Grace were atrocious though. I literally did hate them! Each character was so well written that you could tell why they would do what they did, why they talked and behaved in their own way. I could just feel their personalities and attitudes coming out as I read this book.
Even though this was not supposed to really be funny, there were definitely some comedic moments, which I seem to think is a pattern in Hendrix's books. The story was also really well written. There was some great foreshadowing with James, and with Patty's mother-in-law too. I don't want to spoil anything. Let's just sat that Patty's MIL had a good reason to hate James. As out there as some things in the story were (Patty hiding in James's attic?!?!?!?!!) everything in the book fit together and came right to a point at the end. The way each little thing added into the next thing, into the next, let this story build up so much. Every moment in the book wove together seamlessly.
I loved that this book brought back vampires as well. It's been a while since I've read a good vampire book, and I personally think we need a vampire resurrection in books.
Considering that this was a vampire book that also involved some chopping, I'm actually surprised there wasn't more blood and stuff in the book. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm a little disappointed in that. I need a good vampire horror novel with even more guts and gore.
Overall, I loved the book, and I would definitely recommend it to others who love creepy, horror, vampire books - especially if it's all rolled into one.
If you've already read this book, be sure to let me know what you thought in the comments!