Today Kim and I bring you a double review of Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. Kim enjoyed it while it wasn’t really for me. But this is exactly why we like doing double reviews: Two readers with two very different feelings on a novel!
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires
Author: Grady Hendrix
Published: April 7, 2020
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.
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars
I have really enjoyed every book that I’ve read by Hendrix. He speaks to the darkness in my soul and I just want to embrace it! The Book Club’s Guide is no different. My only real criticism is more personal than it is objective. I know that Hendrix loves a good metaphor and considering how literal and shallow I am, I’m actually pretty good at deciphering them. I honestly have no idea what his metaphor is in this book. I feel really stupid but it’s true. But I’m still pondering so maybe I’ll figure it out. But other than that, I couldn’t put this book down. I read through it very quickly. I felt Patricia’s frustration and anger and desperation come through from every page. I liked how Hendrix didn’t shy away from the more subtle problems that seem to plague the older male generations. They saw women as fragile creatures put on this earth to serve and nurture, not to think or significantly contribute. I personally hate to think that anyone would see me as incompetent or stupid, but I have my own sense of self to fall back on. I made very good grades in school, I have a college degree, I know I have a brain and a relatively high level of intelligence. I also have a husband who would never treat me like and idiot emotional female whose only job is to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Patricia doesn’t seem to have any of that so when even her friends turn on her … dang I felt bad!
This book was intensely written with some crazy parts that made me physically uncomfortable! It also put me in the mood to go back and read My Best Friend’s Exorcism and We Sold Our Souls all over again. This is definitely not a YA book so I’d say keep it away from the teens. But I’d absolutely recommend this book to all my reader friends. There’s something so relatable about an honest, Southern book club filled with true crime and romance novels. Throw in a vampire? Oh yeah, I do need more info on who exactly this vampire is. Where did he come from? How did he become a vampire? Who is he??? Well, I guess Hendrix will have to write another book!
Jessica’s Rating: 2.5 Stars
Dates Read: June 28- July 15, 2020
Format Read: Audiobook
This is a novel that just did not work for me. It is about a group of ladies in a book club which intrigued me and also takes place in the 1990s, so I was looking forward to seeing references to that. But I should have been leery as the book description mentions Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias and I am not really a fan of those types of films. I guess the whole typical/expected southern stereotype just doesn’t work for me.
Patricia’s book club reads all kinds of true crime novels, so her suspicions of newcomer James are a bit out there, but her expectations are proved true. This is a dark and gory novel which did not pick up for me until about 30% was left. That 30% was good, but if you are sensitive about your ears there is one part that was just painful for me to listen to in that last 30%: The author really did his job with his descriptions. I kept touching my ear as if I was in pain!
There are other themes touched on throughout the novel: classism, racism, sexism, but also the closeness of female friendship through a shared love of reading. Though it wasn’t for me, I predict that this would be a fun book to discuss at your monthly book club if you have one.