**We were gifted a copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own**
As an avid reader I’ll literally read any genre, however I’ll readily admit that horror and vampire stories are an area where my experience is somewhat lacking. So why you may ask did I agree to read and review Grady Hendrix’s latest release; The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires? Well firstly the synopsis had me intrigued and the final hook was that it centred on a group of ladies in a book club – what more could a bibliophile want? It may be a little outside my comfort zone, but what did I think?
About The Book
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 neighbour, bringing the neighbour’s handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. James is well travelled 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 neighbourly kindness gone .
Patricia is just another oppressed and under appreciated housewife living in suburbia; her only outlet being the book club formed by her and a handful of friends. Spending their lives patronised and made to feel weak and useless by their overbearing husbands the book club members spend their time immersing themselves in true crime novels and occasionally wishing something more exciting than an unknown car passing through town would happen.
Like all small towns a newcomer never goes unnoticed so when James moves in down the road to look after his elderly relative Patricia makes it her business to welcome him. As James becomes entwined in her family’s life she soon realises there are some unconventional things about him and his elusive past, but what she discovers is much worse than anything she has ever read in one of her trashy true crime novels and it’s up to the book club to discover the truth.
Having very limited experience of horror or vampire stories I went into this book pretty blind with no real expectations or ideas of popular troupes and I was completely blown away; it was nothing like I expected!
Initially when I started reading, whilst extremely atmospheric, I found the story reasonably slow, however with hindsight I now realise that Hendrix was simply setting the scene; laying his cards out if you will. Once things started to happen I was gripped, completely taken in by the creepy goings on and suspenseful scenes that had me literally clutching my seat at times.
Having expected plenty of cliche blood sucking vampire scenes I was pleasantly surprised to find this to be a much more subtle, yet extremely gruesome, dark take on the horror genre. It’s overflowing with strong female characters pushing and rebelling against the labels and expectations of society has given them, with a great story of friendship at it’s heart – something I didn’t expect to find !
I absolutely loved my first experience of Grady’s work and have already added more of his titles to my ‘want to read’ list. The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires was a real eye opener to me leaving me wondering if I’ve discovered a love for horror I didn’t realise I had. If you are looking for a vampire next door story that will have you hanging on the edge of your seat and feeling repulsed in equal measure then this is the book for you!
**TRIGGER WARNINGS: THIS BOOK TOUCHES ON SEXUAL ASSAULT, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SUICIDE**
About The Author
Award-winning author Grady Hendrix has written for various outlets from Playboy to the British Film Institute, and scripted award shows for Chinese television. His novels include Horrorstör, about a haunted IKEA, which has been translated into 14 languages; My Best Friend’s Exorcism, which is basically Beaches meets The Exorcist; and We Sold Our Souls, a heavy-metal horror epic that Library Journal named one of the best books of 2018.
He’s also the author of Paperbacks from Hell, a history of the horror paperback boom of the 1970s and ’80s, which won the Bram Stoker Award for “Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction,” and has also been spearheading the Paperbacks from Hell/Valencourt re-issues, which publishes facsimile editions of old paperback horror novels with his own introductions.
He is the screenwriter of horror films Mohawk (2017) and Satanic Panic (2019), a horror movie about a pizza delivery woman battling rich Satanists. He’s one of the founders of the New York Asian Film Festival, which the New York Times called “one of the city’s most valuable events.” You can discover more ridiculous facts about him at gradyhendrix.com.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires is available to purchase now from Amazon*