Summary and book reviews of The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

by Grady Hendrix

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix X
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2020, 408 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2021, 424 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Book Summary

Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this horror novel set in 1990s suburban Charleston.

Patricia Campbell's life has never felt smaller. Her ambitious husband is too busy to kiss her good-bye in the morning, her kids are wrapped up in their own lives, and she's always a step behind on thank-you notes and endless chores. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime and suspenseful fiction.

This predictable pattern is upended when Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor's handsome relative, James Harris, into her life. Sensitive and well-read, James makes Patricia feel things she hasn't felt in twenty years. But there's something...off...and then Patricia's senile mother-in-law insists she knew him back when she was a girl.

When local children go missing, Patricia has reason to believe that James may be more Bundy than Beatnik. But once she and the book club members investigate further, the true monster emerges—and he's far more terrifying than any serial killer they've ever read about.

Chapter 1

In 1988, George H. W. Bush had just won the presidential election by inviting everyone to read his lips while Michael Dukakis lost it by riding in a tank. Dr. Huxtable was America's dad, Kate & Allie were America's moms, The Golden Girls were America's grandmoms, McDonald's announced it was opening its first restaurant in the Soviet Union, everyone bought Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time and didn't read it, Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway, and Patricia Campbell got ready to die.

She sprayed her hair, put on her earrings, and blotted her lipstick, but when she looked at herself in the mirror she didn't see a housewife of thirty-nine with two children and a bright future, she saw a dead person. Unless war broke out, the oceans rose, or the earth fell into the sun, tonight was the monthly meeting of the Literary Guild of Mt. Pleasant, and she hadn't read this month's book. And she was the discussant. Which meant that in less than ninety minutes she would ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

One might expect from the book's title and description that this would be a lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek take on the well-worn vampire and horror genres, and indeed, the novel starts out in that vein. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the author's technique, though, is the way he gradually transitions the story from what seems like a horror spoof to a true horror story with characters and a plot in which the reader becomes deeply invested. As the plot darkens, there are passages that are humorous but terrifying at the same time, a tricky balance to achieve but one Hendrix manages with remarkable success...continued

Full Review (540 words).

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(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

BookPage
In turns heartwarming and enraging, bloody horror and social critique, this genre-bending vampire story helps cement horror as a frontier for feminist storytelling.

New York Times
[O]ne of the most rollicking, addictive novels I’ve read in years...a tale of housewives battling vampires that is sweetly painful, like hard candy that breaks a tooth.

The A.V. Club
[Hendrix] remains excellent at staging page-turning sequences of excitement and anxiety...[and] a master of adding little details that fill in the landscape of his Southern-fried world.

USA Today
A delight...its incisive social commentary and meaningful character development make The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires not just a palatable read for non-horror fans, but a winning one.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Hendrix cleverly sprinkles in nods to well-established vampire lore, and the fact that he's a master at conjuring heady 1990s nostalgia is just the icing on what is his best book yet. Fans of smart horror will sink their teeth into this one.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Hendrix draws shrewd parallels between the serial killers documented in the book club's picks and Harris's apparent vampire persona, loading his gruesome story with perfectly-pitched allusions to classic horror novels and true crime accounts. This powerful, eclectic novel both pays homage to the literary vampire canon and stands singularly within it.

Booklist (starred review)
Hendrix has masterfully blended the disaffected housewife trope with a terrifying vampire tale, and the anxiety and tension are palpable...a cheeky, spot-on pick for book clubs.

Foreword Reviews (starred review)
A vampire's hunger for blood may be insatiable, but this masterpiece novel ladles out ample thrills, chills, and relevant examples of sociopolitical injustices to satisfy any literary appetite.

Author Blurb Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires is funny and warm and it's genuinely creepy and disturbing. Grady re-creates a time and place without the dangerous, distortive lens of nostalgia.

Author Blurb Sarah Gailey, Hugo-Award winning author of Magic for Liars
Grady Hendrix has cemented his place as a literary luminary with The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires. Hendrix has taken his genuine affection for housewives and their work, and folded it seamlessly into a horrifying story of social decay and community betrayal. Cancel your plans and lock your doors - you won't be able to stop reading this one until the very end.

Author Blurb Stephen Graham Jones, author of The Only Good Indians
Every vampire novel is going to have blood and teeth, but this one's got that one essential ingredient that nobody else does like Grady Hendrix: heart. These aren't characters, they're people, and I consider myself lucky to have known them for a few pages.

Reader Reviews

Karen

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires
3.5 stars. This book started out strong for me. I’m familiar with Mt. Pleasant South Carolina where the characters live, which made it easy to visualize. The book club read a lot of books that I have read. So it brought back memories of books I ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Vampires in Legend and Literature

Cover of Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories, 1914 The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires is about the presence of a suspected vampire in a South Carolina suburb in the 1990s.

The vampire is a type of legendary creature falling into the broader category of "revenant"—a person who has returned from the dead, often to do harm to the living. Many people tend to think of vampires as a staple of Eastern European folklore, and there is some truth to this, but plenty of other cultures have tales about similar supernatural beings going back millennia. For example, "vrykolakas" are flesh-eating undead creatures appearing in Greek folklore, and burials found in Cyprus suggest that heavy materials may have been placed on bodies to prevent these creatures from rising as far ...

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