Book Review: ‘The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires’ By Grady Hendrix

Review by Lauryn Angel

I loved My Best Friend’s Exorcism and We Sold Our Souls, which made me confident that I would also enjoy The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. But I was unprepared for just how much I would enjoy this book! The book sucked me in right away, and I had trouble putting it down. I could easily have finished it in two days if I hadn’t had to do things like sleep and go to work.

The book is set in the mid-1990s (when I was in high school) and populated by a group of southern housewives who are about the same age I am now, so I appreciated little details like the clothes the characters wore and some of the material things they were concerned with. But I especially liked the invocation of the horror tropes of the day. When Patricia goes to the bookstore in search of vampire novels, her list of purchases reads like my summer reading list from that time period. Anyone who grew up on novels like Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and movies like The Lost Boys will recognize the pop culture milieu Hendrix is tapping into here.

I really liked protagonist Patricia Campbell and her book club — Grace, Slick, Maryellen, and Kitty. These southern suburban moms were dissatisfied with the typical book club, with “improving” and “cultured” reads and structured rules, so they started their own book club – with a focus on true crime and pulp fiction. I particularly like how they took the things they learned from reading true crime paperbacks and put them to good use against the stranger in town, James Harris.

While there is humor here, the book is also dark and disturbing. This is definitely not a read for the squeamish – I read a lot of horror, but some of the descriptions were so putrid and horrifying that I almost put the book down several times.

Almost. But my curiosity about what came next kept me reading – which, for this reader, is the mark of an excellent horror novel. I was already a Hendrix fan, but this is definitely my new favorite Grady Hendrix book!

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