The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires
by Grady Hendrix
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Pub Date 07 Apr 2020 | Archive Date 02 Sep 2020
Steel Magnolias meets Dracula in this New York Times best-selling horror novel about a women's book club that must do battle with a mysterious newcomer to their small Southern town.
Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt smaller. Her husband is a workaholic, her teenage kids have their own lives, her senile mother-in-law needs constant care, and she’s always a step behind on her endless to-do list. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime. At these meetings they’re as likely to talk about the Manson family as they are about their own families.
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, and he makes Patricia feel things she hasn’t felt in years. But when children on the other side of town go missing, their deaths written off by local police, Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt. The real problem? James is a monster of a different kind—and Patricia has already invited him in.
Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia’s life and try to take everything she took for granted—including the book club—but she won’t surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.
A Note From the Publisher
#1 LibraryReads Pick for April | Amazon Best Book of the Month | April 2020 Indie Next Pick | 4 Starred Trade Reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, and BookPage
“[A] clever, addictive vampire thriller….This powerful, eclectic novel both pays homage to the literary vampire canon and stands singularly within it.”—Publishers Weekly, 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.”—Booklist, 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.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“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.”—Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World
“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”—Sarah Gailey, Hugo-Award winning author of Magic for Liars
“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.”—Stephen Graham Jones, author of The Only Good Indians
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 331 members
Sometimes you read a book where the premise is so good and the follow-through is so not and you feel so disappointed. And then sometimes you read a book where the premise is so good and the follow-through is even better and you fall in love with reading all over again. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix is the latter. This is the second book I've read by Hendrix and while I liked My Best Friend's Exorcism and it technically exists in the same universe, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires hit so many more of my bookish pleasure points.
This book is scary, twisty, weirdly sexy, and so good. There's a nice dose of social commentary mixed in with incredibly written horror. By giving the reader more information than the characters have at certain points in the story, Hendrix creates a narrative arc that is almost impossible to put down. You can't help but root for Patricia and her book club friends to kick vampire ass while also showing their ungrateful families what's up. I've consumed a lot of vampire pop culture and Hendrix knocks this one out of the park. I should also note a cw for sexual violence among other more typical horror tropes.
Recommended for readers who want to read a book that doesn't hedge its bets. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires goes there and doesn't apologize one bit.
Just read this. It is a fun and fast read. It is a wonderful and campy take set in the south. It is an enjoyable distraction from life, and you will find yourself wanting to talk about it when finished.
I look forward to Grady Hendrix's new material much like a long overdue vacation, or winning some ungodly sum of money -- a lot, to say the least! His work continues to get better and better with each release, and that has to be a difficult feat, as it's so damn good already! This had moments where I felt a Jack Ketchum "Girl Next Door" vibe, of the real horrors that go on behind closed doors in polite society. Also, much like Jonathan Janz in "Dust Devils" and Glenn Rolfe in the forthcoming, "Until Summer Comes Around" gives readers a refreshing, original, atypical take on a classic monster. At times funny, and at others, downright scary & stressful, this will be in my "best of" list for 2020.
This book absolutely ruled and I can’t wait to sell it at my store. This book makes vampires scary again. I ripped through this super quickly, and it’s absolutely my favorite of Grady Hendrix’s books
One of the things that makes reading Grady Hendrix absolutely delicious is that Hendrix gives us a really normal story with really normal people but then things start to slide sideways. It's a slow process - so slow you probably can't pinpoint exactly when the slide began (and probably, the slide began before the first pages of the book - we just don't realize it). And then at some point, the characters, and the readers, realize, "Whoa, this shit's gone crazy!" but it's too late to backpedal or to erase the picture in your mind of something rotten, putrid, scary, gross (or all four) that you just witnessed/read about. And then you and the characters are in a full-blown horror novel that's probably only going to get worse, but like an accident on the side of the road, you can't look away even if you wanted to.
Yeah, that's what's totally great about a Grady Hendrix novel.
The story: Patricia Campbell, once a nurse, gave up her career to marry a doctor. Her life is now tedious and dull with kids who are ungrateful and a husband often absent both physically and emotionally. The one thing she looks forward to is her book club and their shared love of true-crime and suspense novels.
Then a handsome, artistic stranger moves into the neighborhood and some local children go missing about the same time. The women of the book club spend their meetings discussing the stranger and the likelihood that he's responsible for the missing children. Their conversations get Patricia more and more convinced that he's the next Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer and she needs to investigate. What she discovers is much more terrifying than a cannibal mass-murderer.
If the title didn't give it away, you might think you were reading some chick-lot book club pick and be completely surprised about two-thirds of the way in when it's clear that the story has taken a twisted turn.
And for me, this is the best kind of horror fiction. Rather than trying to keep a steady stream of horror going through 2-3-400 pages, the delight here is know that we're reading a horror novel and watching average people - our neighbors - slide into hell, and their frantic clawing and windmill-spinning arms as they try to keep from slipping away, but the ichor and gore under their feet just keeps them slipping.
This is only the fourth Grady Hendrix book I've read, and one of those previous was a non-fiction book, but he's quickly become one of my favorites and someone I actively watch for.
Looking for a good book? The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix is absolutely top-notch horror fiction.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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