Book Review: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Reviewed by Kamryn Kronschnabel, Patron Services Librarian, Charles City Public Library
Halloween may be the most appropriate time of year to read spooky books, but let’s be honest: there’s never a bad time to check out a new-to-you horror story.
Taking place over the course of about a decade in the 80s and 90s, Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is a unique book that covers a myriad of societal problems in the Charleston area. Our protagonist, whose perspective we get for most of the book, is Patricia Campbell - her life seems typical for a stay-at-home mom, where she’s got a full to-do list but not much actually fulfilling happening in her life. This changes one day, for the better, when she joins a book club of spunky SAH moms out of guilt and discovers, to her surprise, that she really enjoys the true-crime books they discuss.
A few years later, after an incident where she’s attacked by a rabid neighbor, she meets a handsome newcomer to the neighborhood, looking to put down roots. Maybe it’s the true-crime she’s been reading - or maybe there’s genuine reason to be suspicious - but something about him doesn’t sit quite right with Patricia. But what? And how can she prove it when nobody else seems to believe there’s anything wrong?
There are definitely some horror elements to this book that I didn’t expect when I first picked it up - swamp rats, nasty bugs, and moments of gore are all things to be cautious of if you’re particularly squeamish. But there are good moments of social commentary that, for me, took this book from good to great; condemnations of sexism and racism are the two strongest messages this book sends across, as POC and women are those who are most ignored when problems arise. The setting, where these stay-at-home mothers are meant to be genteel southern women, helps to give the characters some extra edge as well.
Maybe you’ll pick this book up immediately as this review is published – notably after Halloween – or maybe you’ll save it on your list of books to read for next October. Either way, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is a great way to get in a spooky mood and an awesome book to check out from Charles City Public Library today. Stop in or call 641-257-6319 to reserve a copy!