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The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Horror (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.

404 pages, Hardcover

First published April 7, 2020

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About the author

Grady Hendrix is the author of the novels Horrorstör, about a haunted IKEA, and My Best Friend's Exorcism, which is like Beaches meets The Exorcist, only it's set in the Eighties. He's also the author of We Sold Our Souls, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, and the upcoming (July 13!) Final Girl Support Group!

He's also the jerk behind the Stoker award-winning Paperbacks from Hell, a history of the 70's and 80's horror paperback boom, which contains more information about Nazi leprechauns, killer babies, and evil cats than you probably need.

And he's the screenwriter behind Mohawk, which is probably the only horror movie about the War of 1812 and Satanic Panic.

You can listen to free, amazing, and did I mention free podcasts of his fiction on Pseudopod. He also does a podcast called Super Scary Haunted Homeschool.

If you're not already sick of him, you can learn all his secrets at his website.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 24,423 reviews
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 5 books13.5k followers
January 3, 2022
People's refusal to see sexism and harmful representation when it looks them straight in the face is what led this book to have such great reviews. Some even applaud the (male) author for being so good at writing female characters and I sit here flabbergasted, trying make my brain comprehend how they came to that conclusion.

Let's get the obvious out of the way: I'm a white man - and so is the author. Pick your fighter. I'm stating how I perceived the book and as someone who is super keen to read books by authors (preferably OwnVoices) that care about good representation, this one fell awfully flat. Did a big ugly noise when it landed, too.

I was so excited to read it. The title tells you everything you need to know about the book and the cover is gorgeous. It's a quick read and I finished it in less than a day (mostly because I wanted to get it over with and didn't want to have to pick it up again the next day). But honestly, the first 200 pages or so were decent. I enjoyed myself. I noticed that the Black characters in the book were only ever unnamed waiters or caregivers without speaking roles and it felt iffy, but I was ready to give the author the benefit of the doubt. He still had a lot of pages to turn things around.

I guess what's helpful to know is that the book is set in America's Deep South in the 80's and 90's. But the author took that as an excuse to push Black characters to the sidelines. Mrs Greene, a Black woman hired to take care of the main character's mother, eventually becomes part of the vampire slaying book club, but the white saviour narrative displayed in the book is still tasteless. To add insult to injury, it seems like the evil vampire is also a racist one because he only ever murders Black people. And this leads us to another role that Black characters had in the novel: to be killed. Either through lynchings or through the hands of the vampire. And of course all Black people in the book lived in a poor settlement where the female white main characters had to be scared to walk the streets. Now you can cry "BUT historical accuracy!" but honestly, there's a vampire in this book, so your argument is invalid. If a vampire is more realistic than a Black person with a degree or a nice suburban house, there's definitely something wrong.

I could probably say more but one of the reasons why I was so attentive when it came to the representation was Mikki Kendall's Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot, which was the last book I read before I picked this one up. While the two books aren't at all related, Mikki Kendall's essays about structural racism, privilege, white feminism, etc. made a stark contrast to this Vampire slaying book. So I guess what I'm saying is, if you're still debating reading The Southern Book Club's Guide to Vampire Slaying, consider picking up Hood Feminism instead.

I do want to talk about the presentation of the female characters though. I've seen a few reviewers call the characters one dimensional and crude, which is accurate. I guess the more I read, the less willing I was to let things slide and soon both plot and characters completely deteriorated. None of these fictional women seemed to be able to pick a husband that isn't a dick, none of them gave a damn about female friendships and they acted irrationally around their children, too. I'm not advocating for female characters to be respectable so they can be called feminist. That's not how it works. But when you intend to write good rep and this is all you come up with, then that's not exactly what I would call fully fleshed complex female characters. But of course, this male horror author had to go one step further. Of course he had to make unnecessary comments about their breasts and pubes, of course horror wouldn't be horror if female characters didn't experience physical violation of their bodies in the form of rape and abuse. No, your book is not feminist just because your female characters say "That's sexist" once. I'm really tired of horror authors relying on tropes like the violation of women's bodies (and Nazi symbolism, just to throw that in too) to create discomfort. It's like comedians that can only be "funny" when they ridicule women and marginalised people.

Oh one thing I'd like to add: this, let's call it "shortcoming" is not just the author's fault. We tend to forget that behind a published book there's a team of editors, there's a publisher that decided to give the book a nice cover and release it the way it was. It's this whole industry that needs to do better, that needs to check their priorities and their privilege. Or else we'll get more questionable books like this.

At the end of the day there was no room left for any shred of patience on my part, which is why I'm giving this a really bitter rating of one star.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,067 reviews38.1k followers
January 8, 2023
My vote for Goodreads choice awards for horror genre!
I truly deeply madly in love with this book! More than five gazillion stars! Somebody has to stop my fingers adding entire books of the author to my nearly collapsing Mount TBR! But I cannot stop with only one book. Can I?

They defined this book as mash up of Steel Magnolias-Fried Green Tomatoes and Dracula! No, sir: this is Stepford Wives and Southern Desperate Housewives meet True Blood!

This book is not easy, entertaining reading! It is so smart, gruesome, wild, bloody blended with dark humor, sarcasm, criticizing of the role of wives and structures of marriage. But I may tell you this is epic and darkly heart wrenching women friendship book. Their bonding reminded me of Thelma and Louise’s last scene and filled my eyes in tears!

Five regular Southern housewives (at least that’s what their moron husbands think about them!) start a book club to read true crime stories and discuss them! (See! There is nothing ordinary about them. They know their dark sides and they also know how to retrain it!)

Welcome to 90’s Charleston! The story is narrated by Patricia Campbell, one of the members of the book club. She gave up her career as a nurse and married with extremely workaholic and arrogant husband but at least she has young teenage daughter who disrespects her and younger son who is obsessed with Third Reich! And her mother-in-law moved indefinitely to their house, suffers from dementia and is adamant to turn her life into her. But thankfully the other book club members (also her true friends and confidantes right now!) intervened and find Mrs. Greene to help her take care of her mother-in-law.

She is not really happy with her life and the books she read and growing friendship with the girls are the only things brighten her mood. Maybe her life doesn’t suck like she thinks but WAIT FOR IT! Did HER ELDER NEIGHBOR ATTACK HER AND RIP HER EARLOBE? Yes, weird things can happen in South and stays in South as well! Then her not so nice elderly neighbor dies at the hospital so she pays a visit to her house, carrying a casserole because she’s told, her neighbor’s nephew came to town to take care of her. She meets with charming nephew James (actually she finds him lie on the bed and she thinks he might be dead so she performs CPR! Another interesting way to welcome your new neighbor!) and after his friendly revisit to her house, she gets attracted to him even though her mother-in-law screams a lot when she sees him at their house and confuses the guy with her father’s killer.

Patricia invites James to her book club, helps her to open a proper bank account, drives him to help for daily errands but after her mother-in-law’s suspicious dying (those parts of the book were really disgusting and gruesome! I advise to read those pages with empty stomach!) and local kid’s missing, she starts to get suspicious about her charming new neighbor/friend/crush’s involvement to local kid’s suicides. But of course when she shares her theory with her besties, they are silenced by their know-it-all husbands who are invested with James’ inventive ideas and quite large amount of money Patricia isn’t sure where they came from!

The wives kept their silence till their children’s lives are also in danger. Could they stop this dangerous man? Is he a real man or is he a kind of supernatural creature? Let’s find out!

I have to admit I loved those girls: Slick, Kitty, Grace, Maryellen and let’s not forget the last addition of their club: dear Mrs. Greene! I loved their quirky antics, their loyalty and their secret badass power they’re forced to hide because of their husbands’ mental or physical abuse!

Even though this was harsh, bumpy, bloody reading, I enjoyed every second of it and I wished it would never end! Some of the producers should wake up and realize this book is secret gem and it is needed to be adapted into streaming series. (Especially the heart wrenching story about bitter peaches was remarkable and unforgettable part of this book!)

Overall: I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT! This is one of the best books of the year! Go on, get it and read it!

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
April 9, 2020
Then she got in her Volvo and hoped Grace was right and this was all just a product of the overactive imagination of a stupid little housewife with too much free time on her hands. If it was, she promised herself, tomorrow she would vacuum her curtains.

I FREAKIN' LOVED THIS. I loved every single dark, funny, gory minute of this book. I'm in no way qualified to talk about best and worst books, but I can say with absolute certainty that this is my favourite book so far this year.

For the first few chapters of The Southern Book Club, I thought I had it pegged as the easiest, breeziest, sweet tea & pecan pie of a novel. A kind of True Blood, if Sookie Stackhouse was ten years older and ran a book club. Which, don't get me wrong, sounds utterly fabulous, but it actually ended up being way more than I expected. It goes to some really dark places, so a quick warning to those sensitive to sexual assault and domestic abuse (off-page).

I'm not quite sure how best to describe this. In some ways, it's a heartwarming and funny story about a - you guessed it - Southern book club. There's so much female friendship and a good few laughs, but despite how the title and cover look, it isn't campy like I feared. In fact, as well as being fun, this book made me really frustrated and angry in parts. I hate it (and can't stop angry-reading) when women are patronized and gaslighted. Reading about gaslighting really makes me anxious, and the way the women in this book are talked down to because they are "silly" housewives made my blood boil.

But that's the whole point. In the author's note, Hendrix states that he "wanted to pit Dracula against my mom". It's a nod to those women who carry out the majority of the childcare and household chores, as well as shouldering the emotional burden. And, hell, these housewives might vacuum their curtains and freeze 60 sandwiches at the beginning of the month for school lunches, but they have some serious claws.
In every book we read, no one ever thought anything bad was happening until it was too late. This is where we live, it’s where our children live, it’s our home. Don’t you want to do absolutely everything you can to keep it safe?”

Patricia has read enough true crime novels to know a threat when she sees it. So when a mysterious stranger comes to town and threatens their neighborhood and their children, Patrica, Kitty, Maryellen, Slick, Grace and Mrs. Greene are absolutely NOT about to take it lying down. God, I love these women. They're not the stereotypical "badass heroines", which makes them so truly, genuinely badass. The book lightly pokes fun at them, but in a warm, good-natured way.
“How’s your ear?”
“She swallowed part of it,” Patricia said.
“I’m so sorry,” Slick said. “Those really were nice earrings.”

Normally I would summarize at the end of my review by saying how "fun" or "intense" or "moving" it was, but I don't know which angle to go for because this book was all those things. This book made me laugh and it made me anxious and I just loved it. It's too bad that it ended in a perfect place because I would definitely sign up for a Southern Book Club series.

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Profile Image for Yun.
505 reviews18k followers
May 23, 2022
I know I shouldn't judge a book by its title, but The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires got me real good. It sounds like a fun, lighthearted take on slaying vampires, mixed in with some Southern hospitality and book club joviality. And it started out that way. But then it went somewhere else altogether.

If I were to sum up this book with one word, it would be gross. Every time I picked it up, I would read some passages on rats eating people alive, or cockroaches wiggling into ears, or blood-sucking appendages flopping out of mouths, and I just wanted to hide my eyes. One time I made the mistake of eating while reading (one of my favorite activity combos), and I couldn't get my gag reflexes to stop for a long time afterwards.

But it wasn't just the gore that turned me off. I also found this book to be overwritten. There were moments when it was supposed to be serious, like with the women rallying together or the bad guy taking a last stand, and I just cringed at the cheesy dialog. It sounded so fake to me during what should've been emotionally pivotal moments.

And this book had the dumbest, most slow-witted characters I have ever read. When presented with evidence of something strange going on, they just refused to believe, over and over. Sure, in real life, if someone told me there's a vampire loose and they had evidence, I would be skeptical. But this is fiction! I don't want to spent 80% of the book reading about non-believers doubting and naysaying. What a downer.

But please don't let my review dissuade you. So many people have loved this book, so I think this is a serious case of this book just not being for this reader. However, not all is a loss. I do walk away with a new personal record: the longest time it has taken me to get through a book.
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews109k followers
August 2, 2021
A stylistic and fun horror book with lots of gnarly scenes. I like that we get to focus on housewives, especially since they are often underestimated and would definitely be experts in cleaning up blood and other messes. The antagonist is the most deplorable villain I’ve read all year with extremely repulsive and heinous actions. The men in this book are infuriatingly condescending, and I was surprised that the author did such an accurate job at portraying such disrespect through a woman’s POV. I read chapter 21 while I was commuting and ended up coming into work pissed off just because that shit was too real!

I was hoping that the women in the book club would get more involved with the plot, but the main character operated solo for the most part. One of the appealing parts to me was how the beginning of the book showed these women coming together and supporting one another, so I wish that had continued more consistently throughout the story. It would have been more fun to see all the ladies try to solve this mystery together and being a united front. I also wonder if one of the other characters, Mrs. Greene, would have made the story better as a main character. She really did all the hard work as the underdog and had the most sympathetic story, while the other moms were often wishy-washy and were slow in getting things right. It would have shed more light on how race and class plays into the plot, rather than funneled briefly through a side character.
Profile Image for Grady Hendrix.
Author 43 books17.3k followers
April 21, 2020
I really think that Grady Hendrix has written his best book yet, and he did it all while dressed as a penguin. Not a lot of people know this, but in the two years it took him to write SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB he wore the exact same penguin costume every day while he wrote. By the time this book was finished that costume was a rancid, disgusting mess and he had to have it pulled from his body by hooks and burned because it was a biohazard.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,424 reviews8,981 followers
January 30, 2023
Patricia Campbell has a full life, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's fulfilling.

With the majority of her time being dedicated to her family, the one thing she has for herself are the evenings she spends with her friends, the ladies of the Murderinos Book Club.



The Club consists of like-minded Southern housewives, who discuss True Crime and other socially unsavory topics.

Cleverly, different sections of the book are titled after real-life True Crime books. These are based upon what the Club is reading during the period of time we are following in the novel.

Thank you, Grady Hendrix, for adding to my already infinite TBR with some of these True Crime titles.



It's the early-1990s and in their conservative neighborhood, just outside of Charleston, South Carolina, it sounds better to say their Club is a Bible Study. So, that's exactly what they say.

It raises a lot less eyebrows that way.



When a handsome stranger moves to town, Patricia is intrigued and oddly enough, he seems interested in joining the conversation.

Patricia, in good-neighborly spirits, invites him along to her Book Club. After all, how much harm could his presence bring?



The closer Patricia gets to James Harris, the more she notices that something's not quite right with him.

Patricia's live-in mother-in-law seems to take an instant dislike to him; seeming to confuse James with someone from her past. It's possibly simply a symptom of her dementia, but there are other things too.



As local children start disappearing, rumors of a Boogie Man luring them into the woods begin to surface.

Patricia, spurred on by the woman who once offered care to her mother-in-law, begins an investigation of her own. She suspects James may be behind the terrible happenings, but will anyone believe her?



Luckily, Patricia does have some true friends within her Book Club and the ladies team up to get to the bottom of the mystery that is, James Harris.

Guys, I LOVED this book so much!



The dynamics amongst the ladies in the Book Club gave me life! I adored their friendships, Southern charm and humor, as well as the early-90s setting.

Hendrix writes Horror Comedy so well, somehow making it lighthearted, yet horrifying at the same time. It's really quite a skill.



There was also a certain scene in here, occurring during Patricia's investigation, that was hands down, one of the most cringe-worthy scenes I have EVER read in my life.

That sh*t would make Stephen King proud. It was legit, skin-crawling, gagging, exclaiming while I'm reading, good.



I listened to the audiobook for this read, having since purchased a hard copy. I know I will be reading this again.

Side note, it just so happens, which I didn't know going in, that this is voiced by my favorite narrator of all time, Bahni Turpin, who is an absolute goddess!



If you are considering listening to the audio, I absolutely recommend it. A++ performance!

Overall, this book knocked it out of the park. An easy 5-stars from me. Believe the hype.

Profile Image for Melissa.
647 reviews28.6k followers
May 20, 2020
DNF @ 63%

Go ahead, call me a quitter. I can take it. In fact, I own it.

Touted as Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula—unfounded comparisons in my opinion—this novel at times felt like too much, yet somehow not enough.

Much like the bored housewives within these pages who find themselves bogged down with daily chores, family obligations, child-rearing, and their sexist and controlling husbands, I yearned for more. The author loosely connects these women with a book club that takes on a few iterations as the story progresses, but doesn't necessarily feed into the entirety of the story. In my mind, I envisioned tough broads with some semblance of sisterhood and instead was faced with wishy-washy support at best. This is a novel about women, written by a man, and from someone who frequents the women's fiction space, it shows.

There are some gory (which I didn't mind) and cheeky moments that give life to the storyline, but I found the impact was lessened by the various topics introduced. The author hits pause on the vampire aspect of the storyline to touch on sexism, misogyny, suicide, social inequality, racism, child abuse, domestic abuse, and controlling behavior. I so badly wanted the author to pick a lane. Was he trying to relay the story of women slaying vampires or making some misguided attempt to give every issue page time? At 63% no slaying had taken place. Don't even get me started on the insectoid appendage.

It very well may be that this novel comes together for a spectacular conclusion, but the wonky execution thus far leads me to believe not. And honestly, I don’t care enough to stick it out.

*Thank you to Quirk Books for providing a review copy in exchange for sharing my honest thoughts.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,368 reviews9,435 followers
August 15, 2021
Reread with a change to 5 stars!

You don’t mess with the house wives! They will just snap and get even! It was so sweet 😉



I love these ladies!!



Boo Daddy, Boo Daddy
In the woods
Grabbed a little boy
'Cause he taste so good
Boo Daddy, Boo Daddy
In the sheets
Sucking all your blood
'Cause it taste so sweet
Boo Daddy, Boo Daddy
One, two, threes
Sneaking in my window
And sucking on me




***********first read 4 stars **************

I wanted to smack everyone in this damn book! But that ending was 5 star crazy don’t mess with the ladies!



Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,588 reviews153k followers
March 28, 2021
description
Patricia Campbell remembers what life was like before she gave into motherhood - she was an amazing nurse and strong-willed.

But marriage changed all that. She's now a stay-at-home mom and with the way her husband treats her...it is a sobering thought, the life that's ahead of her.

But at least she has book club.

Every meeting they go over the latest true-crime or grisly detective book. It is the one time that Patricia feels like herself.

And then...HE moved in. The new neighbor.

At first it was the little things - he misplaced his ID and legal documents. He has a severe sun allergy.

But then those little things snowballed - children from the next town over are being taken.

And Patricia begins to wonder...what if it was all true? What if that "nice" neighbor is a monster?

And what could she possibly do against that in a world full of smartphones and science?

OMG.

So, I picked this one up because I saw it on the GRs Nominee list...oh my gosh. It was SOOOO good. WORTH. IT.

I LOVED the way this book was set up - the girls in the book club, the weirdness of the neighbor- it all worked so well.

I was so thrown by the way the plot went too. I never knew what was going to happen next and I was LIVING ,for that.

About halfway through, I had to put the book down because I was SO stressed by it. Also - that ending. Perfection. Sheer perfection!

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,034 reviews2,570 followers
December 3, 2022
I liked the writing of The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires very much except for the extreme, over the top, way too much (for me) gory and gross passages describing, in too much detail, rats, roaches (the worst!), spiders, blood sucking, like I never imagined it, horribleness. Picture a small, well to do community where no one locks their doors, the kids are safe playing outside until dark or even after dark, the men earn the income, and their high achieving housewives iron socks and sheets and vacuum curtains and keep the china and the silver cleaned and polished. The men also have their, not to be discussed, extracurricular activities while the women are bored out of their gourds, almost wishing for a murder or kidnapping or something interesting to happen. 

Several of these women have a little book club where they alternate real life true crime (the higher the body count the better) and thriller fiction that can only hope to match the real life crime stories. So when Patricia begins to suspect something very wrong about a handsome newcomer to their community, her husband, his friends and even her book club members think that it's her imagination running wild, after all the real and fictional crimes she has been reading about with the book club. But, Patricia is really on to something with her suspicions about this newcomer. He IS a thing of fiction, come to life, and he is consuming and preying on the young and old of the area, with no one but Patricia thinking he is anything but a financial savior for their little community. 

I'm giving this book 4 stars because, overall, I enjoyed it that much. But I had a really hard time with the detail of the descriptions of some of the really bad things happening in the book. One of the worst, for me, involved a roach and an ear but there is so much more gruesomeness going on in this book. And it is all described in the most vivid detail. I had to read this book as an over the top comedy horror story to handle how we could go from a Fried Green Tomatoes kind of vibe to something very dark and dirty, so quickly. Even during and after a huge bloody fight scene, the story is so very campy and I think the campiness is what allowed me to handle everything that is thrown at us in this book.

I want to add something to this review. Animals and people alike come to harm in this story because it's a vampire story. But I love a very touching scene in this book and for all my griping about gruesome, this book has the sweetest treatment of an old dog. It's very special and it meant a lot to me and that treatment has made me a big fan of this author.

Published April 7, 2020

Thank you to Quirk Books/Random House and Edelweiss for this ARC. 
Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 15 books1,436 followers
May 4, 2020
I struggled with the rating of this book between three and four stars (so 3.5). I loved the opening, the voice of the character. The story was light and engaging. The characters are unique and the repartee real and enjoyable. I knew the premise of this book going in. I have always said that I will read anything-any genre as long as it is written well. Having said that I am not a big fan of vampire stories (although I truly loved The Passage and that was a vampire book of sorts). This author is great at his wordsmith and has solid writing craft.
For me the opening of the book should be a contract with the reader as far as what the rest of the book is going to be like. The story starts off light and fun and then quickly devolves into horror. This story is more of a crime drama with a serial killer with an amateur or reluctant sleuth and is not for the faint of heart. The story is a little too predictable.
So basically I had been expecting a different kind of vampire book one a little light and fluffy (if that's possible with a vampire story) and a character with a great voice. The voice is there and the light part is for the first half. Love the cover by way, great construction and graphics.
If you love vampire books I highly recommend this one.
David Putnam author of The Bruno Johnson Series.
Profile Image for karen.
3,968 reviews170k followers
November 19, 2020
oooh, goodreads choice awards finalist for best horror 2020! what will happen?

"I am not sure what the appropriate gesture is to make toward the family of the woman who bit off your ear, but if you felt absolutely compelled, I certainly wouldn’t take food.”


the thing that i am always forgetting about grady hendrix is that although his books have these zany and hilarious premises and are all decked out in wink-nudgey cover design:

haunted ikea!



teengirl exorcism!—like Beaches meets The Exorcist, only it's set in the Eighties!



monsters of metal!



the stories themselves are not played for laffs. that’s not to say there’s never anything funny in them, but they’re not the campy adventures the covers might lead you to expect.

this one, for example, pitched as “Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula” sounds like pure farce: a ‘bless your heart’ southern ladies’ book club whose town is infiltrated by a bloodsucking creature. it conjures up images of well-mannered housewives whittling their rolling pin handles into shanks, but the novel's actual humor is much drier; the sort where the club's guilty-pleasure true crime tastes are glossed into respectability:

”We just read a wonderful book about life in a small Guyanese town in the 1970s.”

She didn’t mention that it was Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People.


his books are also always a little less horror-focused than i’m expecting. he tends to use horror themes as seasoning; many bad things happen here—missing children, suicide, domestic abuse, rape, deep-fried sexism and racism—but the supernatural influence is only responsible for a portion of the evil. it's somewhat lynchean in theme if not execution—dark forces going unnoticed in everyday life, which—once acknowledged—become more powerful, impossible to unsee.

this was, to me, the least-scary of his books so far, although it is possible that i would have felt differently about it had i read it at any time other than mid-pandemic, my queens neighborhood surrounded by several of the hardest-hit zip codes. it's hard to be affected by horror while living in a nightmare.

it's not an eek-scare book, but it has one of the best inspiration-stories i've seen. from the author’s note:

This is also a book about vampires. They’re that iconic American archetype of the rambling man, wearing denim, wandering from town to town with no past and no ties. Think Jack Kerouac, think Shane, think Woody Guthrie. Think Ted Bundy.

Because vampires are the original serial killers, stripped of everything that makes us human—they have no friends, no family, no roots, no children. All they have is hunger. They eat and eat but they’re never full. With this book, I wanted to pit a man freed from all responsibilities but his appetites against women whose lives are shaped by their endless responsibilities. I wanted to pit Dracula against my mom.

As you’ll see, it’s not a fair fight


i love this whole idea of reimagining the vampire as a serial killer. a while back i read Quiet Dell, based on the crimes of harry powers; a drifter in the 1930s who targeted widows through lonely hearts ads, charming his way into their lives before taking their money and murdering them. that's the first thing i thought of after reading this introduction—envisioning harry as a more literal beast preying on the most vulnerable. and to have such a man cross paths with a (mostly) true crime book club of women who are underestimated by their husbands and indoctrinated in politeness, one of whom wishes "something exciting" would happen to her, is the icing on the (three layer, perfectly frosted) cake—anything they suspect about this fella, any accusations made can be dampened by gaslighting, written off as hysteria, explained away by the susceptibility of bored, silly minds exposed to the lurid trash they read.

it's set up to be this perfect storm of genres and themes and conflicts, but it doesn't quite shazam. i love that the entity is a little newfangled spin on the traditional, but the character work of developing the women apart from patricia is pretty bare and there is some…prolonged downtime in this book, where nothing much is happening, or rather, nothing is building; and then there's a time-jump, and it's all a little messy and uneven.

there are definitely standout scenes that get intense. like v.c. andrews, everything that happens in the attic is gross and wrong and full of things going into places they have no business going. i’ve always had squeam when it comes to eye-horror, but this is my first time ever squirming over ear-horror, which was not the ear-biting referenced in that opening quote. you'll know it when you read it.

as a preview, here’s a (relatively) cute version of aural invasion. it’s cute if you think, like i did at first, that it’s a ring-tailed lemur in some sort of cave but then OH NOOOOO!



i liked it more than it sounds like i did here, but less than i expected to like it. but again, everything is broken, so it's probably me reading it wrong. you will tell me how wrong i am.


trigger warning: the destruction of a library book.

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i love how committed grady hendrix is to design. and details. please admire this underthecover stamp:




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over a cliff, grady hendrix...



come to my blog!
Profile Image for Anne.
3,786 reviews69k followers
November 2, 2022
After reading The Final Girl and liking but not loving it, I kept hearing that this book was a favorite among Hendrix's fans.

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And it has a lot of things in it that should have made it a real hit for me.
First of all, it's set in my neck of the woods in South Carolina. And it's always cool to recognize the settings, right? Plus, he's writing about a group of Southern women who are homemakers.
Yeah, that rings a bell. I did the stay-at-home mom thing for a couple of decades, so there's another thing we have in common.
And you say these chicks are going to form a book club and take out a vampire?
Sign me up.

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But thing was, the first half of the book was boring to me. You get to know these stereotypical southern belles and learn about their lives. And the whole time I'm just wondering when we get to stake a vampire.
Move it along a bit, sugar.

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I loved that Hendrix said he didn't appreciate what all his mother did for him until he got older and understood how much she sacrificed. That's so sweet. I mean that.
But I didn't like Patricia.
I just couldn't empathize with this character. I'm not that parent.
There's absolutely no way in hell I'd let my kids talk to me the way her kids did. What the fuck was wrong with her? You're not stoically protecting your children by letting them berate you when you feel bad, you're raising entitled monsters and setting them loose on the world.
Seriously. Just because I love my kids more than air doesn't mean I'm not going to tell them to piss right off if they start to think I'm some sort of emotional punching bag.
So while I was annoyed with her ungrateful children, I was more annoyed with her for raising ungrateful children.

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Then there's Mrs. Greene. She's the lady who helps out with Patricia's senile mother-in-law and eventually ends up working for the cleaning company the vampire dude hires. She's also the only woman in the entire book who knows what's going on.
So why the hell does she need the help of these rich chicks to do something?
I mean, this vampire starts out by targeting her neighborhood. And it doesn't make the news because who cares that little black kids are dying, right? But Mrs. Greene sends her sons away because she knows something evil is killing these kids. And yet, when she finds out who he is, she does nothing.
Then she actually berates Patricia for doing nothing to help her.

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As though she actually NEEDS these uppity-ass bitches to step in and save her?
And maybe it's because I can identify with Mrs. Greene a lot easier than I can with Patricia and her friends, but I just didn't see why she kept saying that Patricia failed her. Because of course someone like Patricia would fail her. Patricia was weak as hell. All of those women were.
They were too concerned with appearances to get shit done.
Now, I do understand how thankless a job it can be when your title is homemaker.
Thing is, I did it poor.

description

Patricia and her pals weren't worried about how to pay for a yearbook or a present for a birthday party that their kids were invited to. They were worried about upsetting their husbands or adhering to a silly set of rules of propriety that most of us aren't boujee enough to even be aware of, much less feel the need to follow.
So. Between their grating personalities, their terrible parenting skills, and their lack of any problems that I could relate to, I just couldn't muster a whole lot of fucks for any of them.

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At the end of the day, Mrs. Greene was the only one I kind of liked, and I would honestly have rather heard this entire story from her point of view.
Except for the part where she waited around blaming Patty and friends for not stepping up faster. It just didn't ring true to me that someone like her would have even thought to lean on a group of ladies who were made out of paper mache. It seems as though this whole vampire situation could have been taken care of years and years beforehand if she'd gotten a couple of her friends together and gone after him.

description

But.
I get that Hendrix was trying to show off the Steel Magnolia thing that everyone loves. And yes, there are most definitely those women out there.
These women are not those women.
Because if you have to be dragged out of your comfortable house kicking, screaming, and crying to help save the day?
Well, all I can say is

description
Profile Image for Terrie (mostly "in" now) Robinson.
356 reviews518 followers
May 31, 2021
"The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires" by Grady Hendrix is a creative mix of Horror and Southern Fiction!

Well, yes, please and thank you! I love Horror, Y'all! Give it to me! And, then give me some more!

Patricia Campbell is an ex-nurse who is now married to a doctor, who is never home and when he is, he ignores and stifles her. Her two kids are ungrateful complainers. She is mostly lonely and bored. Yep, she's living the dream!

Patricia does love her book club friends though. They read exciting True-Crime and Suspense Fiction books every month. Great conversations happen during their meetings, especially when the wine starts to flow!

The current discussion is about Patricia's newest neighbor, James Harris. He's handsome, charismatic and a bit mysterious. Patricia thinks he might be too mysterious. Something just doesn't ring true with James. Wasn't Ted Bundy handsome, charismatic and mysterious?

Patricia's next door neighbor dies. A friend disappears. Local school children start to go missing. All of this begins when James comes to town. Is there a connection? Patricia seems to think so!

Then Patricia sees things she can't un-see! Is it too late to do anything about it? Who would believe her? Is she no longer safe? And, what about her family?

Set in the 1990's in a small community in the South, where the pace is slow and the 1990's are reminiscent of the 1950's. Were families really like this in the 90's? Oh, wait! This is fiction and horror, right? Never mind!

There are so many things I loved about this story! I loved the characters! All of them! Yes, even James! The author's writing style was superb and that includes the ugly, gruesome and bloody stuff. With his descriptive writing, I had no trouble visualizing every single delightful gory detail!

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Bahni Turpin, who also narrated 'The House Girl'. Once again, Bahni uses her spectacular voicing skills for all the characters. It's done in a very entertaining and convincing way! I love her voice!

Lastly, there are glaring stereotypes in this story. Cultural overtones of the South with racially separated communities. Sexist households where the husband is the breadwinner and the wife is subservient.

With that said, it feels a bit satirical. Who drains Patricia more? Handsome, charismatic, mysterious neighbor James? Or her nightmare of a husband, Carter? The parallels are staggering! The author's creativity delivers that correlation and more so beautifully here for the reader!

4.5 stars increased to 5 beautiful gory horror stars! I highly recommend to all who love Horror!
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
615 reviews4,241 followers
May 13, 2020
“Sometimes she craved a little danger. And that was why she had book club.”

FINALLY. I have found my first five star book of the year that wasn’t a reread or non-fiction! This book is basically Desperate Housewives set in the late 80s/early 90s and the housewives started a true crime book club, only for a vampire to move in down the street... sounds awesome, right?!

It’s a hell of a lot of fun, simply unputdownable, but it also tackles some more hefty issues that were relevant at the time, like the under-appreciation of housewives, gender roles, and socio-economic divides between neighbourhoods. Wait... these are all still relevant... but even more so back then! Add in Hendrix’s unmatched talent for pop culture and his ability to make you squirm in your seat and you’ve got a book that will appeal to a LOT of readers! (I’m not kidding, one part played into one of my biggest phobias and I had to keep taking deep breaths to finish that section)

The constant references to true crime were such a blast for this true crime junkie, and I was getting increasingly jealous of their book club picks. Like why does MY book club have to gravitate towards thrillers? The housewives were all quite different in their own quirky little ways, but each of them seemed to have similar asshole husbands, and relentlessly annoying kids... Who says being a housewife is easy?!

I can’t express how much I loved this book. It was tense, creepy, hilarious, just a really bloody good time!! Thank you to @quirkbooks for the free copy! 5 stars.
May 22, 2020
4.5 stars

YaHoo!! Hot Diggity Dang! This is one brilliantly done story!!!

So how does what seems like a stereotyped, sexist story about southern woman in a book club turn into a skin-crawling, blood soaking story? Then turn into a refreshing, powering, brilliantly houmous story with meaningful character development. Well, Grady Hendrix does some mightly fine footwork here, and I couldn't help but analyze this story.

This one is not my normal story and one that was not on my radar to read, but after seeing how much fun some TS were having in a group read, that fear of missing out on a fun discussion had me joining in. That overthinker in me almost ruined the story, and that over-analyzer saved it for me along with my curiosity. I struggled at first with a few of those the gory scenes and with a darkly disturbing part to the story and almost did not finish, but I had to know why so many readers loved this one. Once the story hit that major turning point, everything started to become clear to me as to why!

On the surface, this one is not what it seems, through the brilliantly layered southern humour, horrifying twists, what seems like stereotyped characters and insightful social commentary comes a powerful turning point in the story that made this one an eclectic sightful, thrilling and entertaining read.

There is no doubt the story is over the top and highly fictionalized with the supernatural side to the story. It's all in the subtext here, and Hendrix draws parallels between a blood-sucking vampire and soul-sucking husbands here in this story along with sexism and racism through the actions of them.

The strength of the story here is Grady Hendrix wanting "to pit Dracula against my mom," he writes. "As you'll see, it's not a fair fight." Never underestimate a Mother's magical power called love!!

Well, this one is not for everyone I do highly recommend giving it a try. You might find yourself as surprised as I did!

I received a copy from the publisher on EW.
March 24, 2022

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My favorite work of Grady Hendrix's is actually his nonfiction collection of essays, PAPERBACKS FROM HELL, which is a loving homage to the horror genre that covers everything from Gothics to ghouls. As someone who reads pulps on the reg, I was excited to see someone else who appreciated trash as much as I do-- there's something about finding an out-of-print gem that nobody has heard of and getting everyone excited about reading it... it's like getting an ARC, but in reverse. I love that feeling.



I've read some of his fiction works, too, but the two that I read-- HORRORSTOR and MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM-- were better in premise than they were in execution. It felt... gimmicky, and the writing really couldn't carry off the story, sadly. That said, I was very excited when I heard about THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES. One: because I love vampires and if its got fangs and hunts at night, I'll read about it; and two: because it's set in the 1990s and books set in the 80s and 90s are so hot right now. They feel claustrophobic because there's no internet & no cell phones. Everyone is a remote island of fear.



Patricia has the ideal life: nuclear family with a doctor husband, and a book club of other well-to-do Southern ladies. Unfortunately, her book club makes the classic mistake of picking the usual slew of boring "book club bait" books and after being caught not reading the book of the month, she and a couple other ladies go rogue by starting their own book club where they do nothing but read true crime, horror, and mysteries. Sounds like my kind of book club! Where do I sign up?



At the same time, an old lady goes crazy and bites off part of Patricia's ear. Her young relative comes home to take care of her and he's kind of weird. His name is James. Patricia feels sorry for James and tries to help him out, even as weird things start happening. Weird things that might or might not be connected to James, the man she has invited into her home and who has become intimate with her family. Everyone thinks Patricia is crazy and that all those books she's been reading have rotted her brain, but Patricia thinks she knows what she sees, and if Ann Rule's memoir has taught her anything, it's that sometimes it's the people who are closest to you who can't be trusted... right?



So, I went into this expecting satire or comedy, and there is a bit of that, but it's mostly written straight. It pays homage to a lot of vampire and horror tropes, but it reminded me most strongly of Fright Night (1985), The 'Burbs (1989), and maybe a dash of STEPFORD WIVES. The slow feeling of doom and paranoia were so well done, and Grady Hendrix might be the only male writer I've ever read who really understands and captures how men talk over and gaslight women. There were sexist scenes in here that literally made me sick to my stomach, because I've been in similar situations and it really sucks being painted as someone who's hysterical or shrill when you have actual concerns.



In addition to the horror vibe, there's also a sense of camaraderie with the women in the book club, and even some surprisingly erotic scenes, which is a must if you're writing in the vein (ha-- vein) of vintage horror movies and books, because a key element of horror was sex. The horror genre is basically the epitome of the Eros and Thanatos drives of Freudian psychology. By the time the book ended, I was actually shocked at how dark and disturbing it was. This was leagues better than anything else Grady Hendrix has written and I honestly can't wait to see what he does next.



Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 



3.5 stars
Profile Image for Debbie.
684 reviews424 followers
December 12, 2021
Wow! This story was not what I expected - it was better! Girl power with a mission!

Reasons why I enjoyed this story:
1. Plot - a unique, almost plausible, spine-tingling story about ordinary housewives up against a charming, smooth-talking vampire, with a twist of dark humor that had me riveted from start to finish. I loved the bittersweet ending;
2. Characters - what a cast! I especially loved Mrs. Green, and I would often catch myself mumbling "B*****d!" during the scenes with the husbands. Overall, some characters were relatable, some raised my hackles, and some raised the hairs on the back of my neck!;
3. Details - some of the horrific scenes were jaw-dropping graphic! Initially, I thought they were just really bad dreams (they weren't!); and,
4. Narrator - Bahni Turpin's talented use of voices/accents for all the characters was spot-on!

I highly recommend this book for lovers of horror and/or vampire stories!
Profile Image for Lisa Lynch.
419 reviews216 followers
June 14, 2020
I really enjoyed the first 1/3 of Grady Hendrix's The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires. It does a great job of setting up our cast of southern mothers who live these complacent, boring lives and decide to spice it up by organizing a book club that reads a mix of murder mysteries, romance, and thrillers.

Then this dude comes to town and, because we all know the title of this book, its pretty easy to guess where things go from there. Let's just say things are about get very spicy indeed.

A lot of people love this book.

I'm not one of those people.

I actually found much of this book to be so problematic that it makes me feel part flabbergasted and part infuriated at the whole thing. I'm just not seeing what so many people like about this book and my head is spinning trying to wrap itself around what I’ve just read, so I will discuss my problems with this book with the utilization of a numbered list.

1. The title is misleading. They got the Southern Book Club part right, but if you go into this book thinking that multiple vampires will be slain by said book club, you will be disappointed. Not only do most of the book club members not even believe there is a vampire in town for at least 80% of the book, but notice that I said “vampire” and not “vampires”. Also, in no way is this book a “guide” to anything, so I feel the title was chosen to be literary and cool and catchy.

2. This book is boring. This may be the least criminal offense that The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires commits, but its a big one nonetheless. I actually get a lot of entertainment value from bad books, so, to me, it is FAR worse for a book to be boring than bad. I really, really liked the first 1/3 of the book, but the middle and most of the events that lead up to the ending were a drag. My mind wandered while reading this one and it was such a struggle to continue. If I had been reading a physical book, there is a good chance I would have DNFd this one.

3. I felt that Hendrix wanted me, as a reader, to be as complacent as the characters in the book about the misogyny, racism, and sexism that permeated the entirety of the text. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires is set in the deep American south during the 80's - 90's and is very much a reflection of that time. Unfortunately, this book doesn't exactly acknowledge these things as problems, so it feels very much stuck in the past, but not because it can't see what is wrong. It sees what is wrong and chooses to accept it.

Like, it feels that the community our book club lives in is perfectly fine being racist. The women are perfectly fine with being treated poorly by their husbands and are perfectly content to live repressed lives in order to conform to the stereotypical gender roles that their husbands want them to be in. Our protagonist ends the pursuit of a career as a nurse in favor of marrying a doctor who can take care of her. I get and respect that some people are ok with this kind of thing, but I just wanted ONE SINGLE CHARACTER to challenge the stereotypes presented in this book. None of them do.

And I get that a lot of this book is supposed to be satire. Satire can be a wonderful tool to expose and criticize things like misogyny, racism, and sexism but I didn't feel that Hendrix was being critical with these characters or with this story all all. Instead, he put all of these things on display and just leaves them hanging there for us to gawk at. And yeah, ok fine. BUT... can satire truly be effective when it doesn't challenge and, instead, perpetuates the awfully negative stereotypes it is supposed to contradict?

In my opinion, no. So this book didn't work for me as satire because Hendrix is only exposing a problem... a problem that the characters in the book seem to be ok with existing or having existed. I really wanted there to be more critique here, but there just wasn't.


4. The tone is wildly inconsistent. Speaking of satire... The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires tries to be funny. None of it felt funny to me.

There is an artful way to weave comedic satire with heavy topics like racism, misogyny, and sexism, but Hendrix just didn't quite get there imho. I do respect the guy for the attempt, but man, I expected this to be so much better than it was.

I think a large part of why the satire didn't quite work for me was because the humor in this book fell so flat. And then there were some absurd, gory horror moments that felt cheesy and silly and ridiculous. It just didn't work for me.


5. The characters are underdeveloped and unlikable. Patricia is our protagonist and she just annoyed the hell out of me, which actually wasn't my biggest problem with this book. My biggest problem was that I absolutely could not distinguish any of the other book club members from each other. One was named Marry Ellen I think. And one was called.... um... Slash? Slade? (Let me look this up...) Ok, it was Slick. And apparently there was also a Grace and a Kitty and I do remember the names now, but I could not tell you anything about any of these ladies.

Actually, that's a lie. I can tell you that all of these ladies have terrible husbands and are, generally, just not treated well by men. All the men in this book gaslight the fuck out of all the women to the point where it is not just absurd, but horribly sad as well. All of these women don't seem to value themselves or their relationships with other women. All of them act stupid in the worst way and are foolish with their behavior around their children. All of them just casually accept their place at the bottom of the societal and familial totem pole without question or even, seemingly, a desire to change that position.

I'm just so disappointed at the lack of strong female characters in this book that pretends to be about just that. Honestly, the only one out of the lot that I liked was Mrs. Greene, the woman who is hired to care for Patricia's mother in law.


6. Mrs. Greene's character is treated so poorly it is disgusting. Nobody can convince me that Mrs. Greene isn't the true hero of this story. First of all, she had the most likable personality and the most sense out of all the women in this book. Second of all, Mrs. Green is the one who steps up and does all the dirty work at the end while Patricia is basically out of the picture.

Despite her heroism, I'm kind of appalled at how stereotypical her situation is. We only meet Mrs. Greene because she is hired to care for Patricia's elderly mother-in-law. (Btw, I do not think any of the white ladies in this book would be friends with a POC if it wasn't a paid relationship.) Mrs. Green is a black, single mother, so of course she lives in the slums. Of course she works as a housemaid for a bunch of white families SOME OF WHO ARE MEMBERS OF THE BOOK CLUB! Of course she is wrongfully accused of a crime and her kids are taken away from her. And, to add insult to injury, Mrs. Green is the one who brings it to Patricia's attention that a bunch of black children are being murdered because, of course, the white communities don't notice.

And Patricia makes the smallest attempt to get her husband to help Mrs. Greene when her kids are wrongfully taken, but he won't for political reasons, all of which have to do with Mrs. Green being black and not exactly worth the trouble. So instead of doing something herself to help the woman who helped her family, Patricia turns a blind eye. Disgusting! And it just stings all the much more when Mrs. Green steps up is the most heroic at the end of the book.

The display of racism in this book is so problematic, and I just wish this book had something powerful to say about all of this, but as it is, it just perpetuates negative stereotypes.


7. I didn't like how this male author wrote women. I read several reviews that mentioned how "real" these characters are because they are mothers who prepare sandwiches ahead of time to throw in packed school lunches and because they find comfort in vacuuming the curtains and doing the “womanly duties” of cooking, laundry, cleaning, and child rearing. And I'm just like "uh... ok". I do see this point to some extent, but again, why are we perpetuating these negative stereotypes??

Why can’t these women like being housewives and also be badasses who stand up to their misogynistic husbands, challenge local racism, and promote and encourage other women to step outside traditional gender roles if they so choose?? I don’t even need all of them to do it, just one would have been nice. Instead, when a lot of these ladies actually do something, it felt disingenuous and unbelievable because their characters are so content to be complacent.

And yeah, the whole point of the book is that these women do eventually come together to fight for what they think is right. But let me make it clear that the “right thing” they decide to fight for is killing the local vampire, not fighting to bridge the gap in inequalities and injustices of their community. Yes, getting rid of a vampire that is murdering black children should be a priority, but it only really becomes worthy of the book club’s energy when the vamp starts going after Patricia’s kids. Who, don’t forget, are white.

And I swear to god this book mentions at the end how they couldn't have done what they did without [insert book club member's name]'s ability to clean so well, [insert book club member's name]'s ability to use a knife, and on and on. I get that we should appreciate our individual skill sets, but these woman are only good at these skills because they live in a patriarchal society where that is what they are expected to like to do well as women.

Hendrix may have attempted to write strong, female characters who embrace their duties as a woman while being a badass, but he totally forgot the badass part. The book club women don't even really know that there is a vampire in their midst (because its mostly black kids who are dying and who care about them, right ladies?) for most of the book.

To top it all off, Hendrix creates a villain who charms all these women with his good looks and money and smooth manipulation tactics. And of course, all the horror elements are over-sexualized and Hendrix comments on women's breasts and pubes all the times. There are a total of 4 rapes in this book that either happen or are mentioned. And the rape and physical violation of women is handled with the same attitude of complacency that everything else in this book is infected with.


8. The ending is terrible. I promise I won’t spoil it. But just let me say that Patricia needs to, literally, put on a sexy dress to execute her plan to get rid of the local vampire. What the fuck???




Thus concludes my numbered list.


I guess I should mention the good things about this book, but I'm going to make it brief. I enjoyed the writing and the dialogue. I also thought it was a good story, albeit executed poorly. Oh, and I enjoyed how the sections were broken down by what book they were reading that month. And some of the horror elements were pretty cool and well written. And that's all folks!

I found the mishandling of contradictory themes and characters in this book to be much more horrifying than the actual vampire. And there just should be some kind of authorial penalty for this.

So anyway, I didn't like this book. I'm in the minority, so maybe there really is something here I missed... or maybe that pervasive sense of complacency is more powerful that I had imagined.

I rated The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix 2 out of 5 stars.

I am going to refrain from recommending this one.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,113 reviews2,154 followers
July 26, 2020
“He thinks we’re what we look like on the outside: nice Southern ladies. Let me tell you something…there’s nothing nice about Southern ladies.”

There’s a reason southern woman are called steel magnolias. Their outer gentility belies their inner strength and fortitude. Underestimate them at your peril.

This book has a fun mix of satire, humor, and horror. Patricia Campbell and her friends have a classics book club but it’s stuffy and few enjoy it. When a friend gives Patricia a copy of a true crime book, a new club of ‘murderinos’ is formed who read only true crime (if you’re a fan, you will have lots of books to add to the tbr).

When a stranger, James, appears in their quiet little southern town, strange things begin happening. There are violent deaths and the children in town begin disappearing. Patricia has her suspicions about James but she has trouble getting anyone to believe her. However, Patricia is tenacious and soon she and her friends band together to rid the town of the threat. These women were a hoot. We all need friends like these.

There are underlying messages about women’s roles, sexism, patriarchy, racism, and domestic abuse. This is delicious satire that highlights the strength of women who won’t tolerate being gaslighted by the men in their lives. There is violence and gore, this is a vampire book, after all, but the humor makes it easier to swallow. The first chapters had me laughing out loud.

What a unique book, I’ve never read one quite like it. It’s quirky and campy and so much fun. I loved seeing how Patricia grew from a mousy genteel southern lady to a bad ass who will do anything to protect her family.

Marialyce and I took a chance on reading something different and were pleasantly surprised. Because of the underlying themes this would make an excellent book club pick.

For our duo review please visit https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...
Profile Image for Debra .
2,126 reviews34.9k followers
May 14, 2020
"We're not a lynch mob, we're a book club."

This book had me at the description of it being a cross between Fried Green Tomatoes, Steel Magnolias and Dracula! What’s not to love about that?

Patricia Campbell gave up her career as a nurse, to be stay at home Mother raising her two children with a distant husband. Her book club was her one escape. It was a place where she could indulge her love to true crime and suspenseful fiction.

When a man moves in next door, she is intrigued but her interest is soon turned to mistrust, and she soon discovers that he is not as he seems. After a gruesome and sinister discovery, she knows what he is, but will anyone believe her? Does she suffer from an overactive imagination? Is her choice in books affecting her judgement? (I know the answer to that must be NO, otherwise I am in a whole lot of trouble myself!) Is she mentally ill? Or is she right?

This was a fun, light read with some gruesome scenes and it hit the spot. This book sucked me in, and after it grabbed hold, I could not get away (see what I did there?) This book has spunk, wit, blood and guts. All the things I hoped for in this book.

An enjoyable read especially during this time of social distancing. But that cockroach scene -- not that I could have done without! What, a cockroach? Read it be grossed out too! Otherwise, fun, light, witty, and a little gory.

*Traveling Sisters Buddy read
Profile Image for Tina.
477 reviews726 followers
August 29, 2020
This book was getting so much hype so I decided to check it out. It did not seem to be my regular type of reading material but the title intrigued me a lot and I listened to the Audio. What a magnificent surprise! There is so much packed into this little book and the audio was amazing! The narrator was exceptional and I loved her different voices for the characters and how she delivered the story. I was mesmerized! At times this was a humorous book with cute little Southern idioms and then it totally went gothic and serious. Grady Hendrix sure wrote an intriguing tale! I was very excited to hear that the rights have been acquired by Amazon for a film adaptation. Cannot wait to see how these unique characters will come to life on screen!
Profile Image for Holly  B (busy month catching up).
788 reviews1,741 followers
September 21, 2020
Five Fangs and a Big Toothy Grin!

Vampire parody and a group of southern book loving housewives with some very strange claims about the new guy next door!

I took a chance on this one and happy to say that it was a campy, creepy and wacky good time!!

I was craving something different when I picked it up (thanks again local library) and once I got started I just couldn't look away and the writing had me hooked. I found the tongue in cheek humor so entertaining and the horror parts were more creepy to me than scary. There were moments of me asking myself, "What in the world is happening???"

I loved the housewives book club meetings and how the main house wife, Patricia stood her ground and was up for the challenge of stopping the weird stranger who wasn't right. Not right at all.

The nostalgia of the 90's, the guy next door who doesn't like the sunshine, and the dark humor made me a new fan of this author!!
Profile Image for Rachel Kelly.
329 reviews25 followers
April 15, 2020
The only redeeming quality this book has is that the cover is pretty. This book was horrible, seriously, I cannot even put into words how much I hated it. First, this book was entirely sexist, and I do NOT think it did a good job at all of representing women. This was a book about the male ego, and nothing more. I was really hoping this would be a book about women in a book club who discovered a vampire living in their town and decided to hunt it (which is what the synopsis led me to believe), however, it was nothing like that at all. Also the way that race and class was handled in this story was TERRIBLE! It was SO SO SO bad and poorly written. I love a good southern paranormal story so I was really looking forward to this, but it was disappointing in too many ways to even list. I'll stop rambling now, but I want my $18.00 back. What a waste. I'll never read another one of Grady Hendrix's books.
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,080 reviews1,649 followers
May 16, 2021
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ AUDIBLE!

I don’t usually read Satire. Or Horror. And, I didn’t grow up in the South.

So, why did a girl born in N.Y. read “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires? “

Well, for starters, I am a “sucker” for book club stories! (You didn’t think you would escape without at least one lame vampire joke, did you?) 🧛🏻‍♂️

And, I was invited to read the author’s upcoming book, “The Final Girls Support Group”, so before downloading, I wanted to see if his work was a fit for me, because I write honest reviews, but I don’t enjoy writing negative reviews.

So, I grabbed an Audible of THIS book as a “test”...and I loved it! ❤️

First, off-Bahni Turpin did a fabulous job narrating! I can see why she is an award winning audiobook narrator appearing regularly on Amazon’s monthly top ten list. She nailed both the NJ and Southern accents, and every character truly had their own voice! So, if you are considering this book-consider listening to it! 🎧

Second, I can see why this book won a Goodreads Choice Award for Horror!

It was SO MUCH FUN!

Patricia Campbell is an unfulfilled Charleston housewife, with one thing to look forward to-the evenings spent with her book club-other mothers who love to read and discuss true crime books. Nothing seems more satisfying than discussing Helter Skelter, Psycho or James Bundy?

If only something exciting would happen in their neighborhood!

And, then James Harris moves in. And, the children start to disappear in a less affluent part of town.

She is afraid he could be a serial killer-or a Vampire!!

Patricia enlists the help of her friends, and her mother in law’s caregiver, Mrs. Greene to begin an investigation of their own.

Are their suspicions just the overactive imaginations of a few bored housewives?

Their (HORRIBLE) husbands think so!

Have they “bitten” off more than they can chew?

Just like in the movie theater, when I have to cover my eyes for a few seconds, peeking at the screen between my fingers, there are times in the book where I had to fast skim over the really GROSS parts involving RATS, ROACHES and RACCOONS 🙈

There is also ⚠️ Sexual Assault !
But, you don’t expect a book like this to be all sugar and spice!

What you can expect is a VERY CAMPY story that is so enjoyable because the characters and their lives are so realistic between the HORROR scenes, that you might start to believe that a vampire CAN move in next door to you...

So, yeah, much to my surprise, I found this to be highly entertaining!

And, I am ALL IN, for reading the author’s next release!

(And, a few more from his back catalog! Like Horrorstor!)

I can’t wait!!
Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 18 books3,707 followers
April 14, 2020
Review originally posted to Cemetery Dance April 1st, 2020
You might be a horror book consumer like me and have already bought into the Grady Hendrix brand. You come for the unique titles and clever packaging (My Best Friend’s Exorcism) but you stay for the alluring storytelling, memorable characters, and iconic cultural references.

Hendrix fans, this might be your new favorite. Within the first few chapters, I got a real sense of the author setting the pace. If you’re one of those book-bingers who jump in with both feet and start tearing through the story, let me caution you to slow down with this one and really savor the moments. There’s some masterful set-up going on in this book; some juicy nuances.

Patricia shows up to her Book Club and she’s supposed to lead the discussion, but motherhood and “life obstacles” have prevented any kind of self-care, let alone time to read a whole book (and a boring book at that). Instead of just coming clean, she decides to wing it and fake her understanding of the story hoping that by asking enough vague questions, the discussion will naturally give her enough clues to sound knowledgeable.

This scene is hysterical. The dialog, the characters, all the awkwardness of the moment—it’s almost like Grady Hendrix spent actual years in a woman’s book club. His focus on Patricia and her friends—their struggles with motherhood and married life—is why this book is so successful.

This is a vampire horror story, yes, but only as a vehicle to tell Patricia’s story—a woman with a thousand expectations put on her. Raising two kids and looking after an ailing mother-in-law, all while keeping up appearances.

At some point, members of the Book Club go rogue and instead of reading the typical literary go-to books (The Bridges of Madison County), they take a deep dive into the scandals of true crime novels. Around the same time, a strange man, James Harris, moves into the neighborhood under mysterious circumstances and befriends our attention-starved Patricia.

What might be mistaken as telegraphing the whole “vampire thing” is actually Grady Hendrix remixing a tired old trope, so don’t be tempted to exclaim, “I figured it out!” or “I knew this was happening!” You didn’t and you don’t. In the case of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Grady Hendrix knows exactly what he’s doing. Everything you think you know was hinted at on purpose and everything that blows your mind at the end was Hendrix showing off.

Horror lovers who enjoy era-specific pop cultural references and a smart blend of vivid character-driven horror and humor will be well pleased. It’s everything Hendrix fans have come to expect from his exclusive brand of storytelling: Clever, compelling and plenty of chills. A new favorite!


Mother Horror blurb:

“Horror lovers who enjoy era-specific pop cultural references and a smart blend of vivid character-driven horror and humor will be well pleased. It’s everything Hendrix fans have come to expect from his exclusive brand of storytelling: Clever, compelling and plenty of chills. A new favorite!”
Full review coming to Cemetery Dance

If Melissa McCarty and Kathy Bates don't star in the movie version of this book--then what would even be the point?!
Profile Image for Sumit RK.
335 reviews443 followers
January 26, 2021
It almost rare to see a combination of dark humor with blood-soaked horror and spine-chilling thriller but The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires manages to get it just right.

Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt duller. Her family is busy in their own world and she’s always busy with endless chores. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of women united by their love of true crime. One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor’s handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life.

James is well-traveled and well-read. But soon the mysterious stranger turns out to be much more than imagined and Patricia’s life takes an inconceivable turn.
The story starts out well with a light and engaging tone. The characters are unique and the plot feels like a slice of real life. The author manages to craft the brilliantly layered story with dark humor, horror, and several twists and turns that will keep you hooked. The story manages to deliver several underlying messages including sexism, patriarchy, and domestic abuse. There is lots of blood and gore violence but the book manages to keep the story emotional and light, most of the time. Overall, the story starts as a fun read and it manages a nice mix of dark humor and horror till the end.

Hendrix gets most of the characters spot-on, From Patricia and her family to the lives of the five-book club members (Patricia, Grace, Maryellen, Slick, and Kitty) and their families. They might start off as typecasts but slowly they evolve into distinct characters of their own. I quite enjoyed the camaraderie between the women and I felt the book could have focused a lot more on the book club.

The book starts with a light and funny tone and slowly becomes more and darker as it reaches the end. Which in a way is disappointing because I was expecting it to stay light, unlike most horror stories. The author touches on several issues like sexism, child abuse, domestic abuse, etc. I wish the book had focused more on the characters in the book club because it feels like drifting away from the main story whenever it wasn’t. As a note of caution, the blood and gore in this book (quite graphic at times) may not be suitable for everyone’s tastes.

Overall, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires is a fun book, full of quirky characters, blood, and gore with a unique story. It’s full of dark humor and some dark disturbing horror. If you are looking to read a horror story with a twist, this one is a must-read.

Many thanks to the publishers Quirk Books and Edelweiss for the ARC.
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