Patricia Campbell spends her days catering to her loved ones. Every day is much like the previous. Her only escape from a mundane life of cooking and cleaning up after a bunch of ingrates is the love she has for her family and book club. This is not your average book club though. It’s a group of suburban housewives that gather to discuss pulpy true-crime paperbacks. That is, until a handsome stranger moves into town. Although the man initially presents as harmless, Patricia has her suspicions. As the neighbourhood welcomes this new arrival into their homes, children begin to disappear, and Patricia’s speculation increases. In response to the terrible events unfolding the book club members band together to figure out exactly what’s going on. The perpetrator is in their midst but this is nothing like the fiction they’re so familiar with. A terrifying secret is hidden beneath the charming veneer of the stranger and it’s about to tear into this unsuspecting community. Only this small group of bookish housewives stand in its way.

The Southern Book Clubs Guide to Slaying Vampires is a character-driven tale with a strong female protagonist that readers will find deeply compelling. Patricia is the complete embodiment of motherhood and I was fully invested in her gut-wrenching struggle with the malevolent creature that plagues their once peaceful neighbourhood. Hendrix skillfully projected the typical southern homemaker persona in his writing so that readers could have a clear understanding of the constraining factors holding the protagonist hostage. At every turn, the housewives are disregarded as hysterical and nonsensical. The misogynistic tone is utterly heartbreaking to read and helped me form an unyielding bond with Patricia. 

There are characteristics of the vampire that are discernibly visceral and dreadful. Unfortunately, these creatures of dark descent have lost all semblance of what makes them so terrifying due to the abundance of subdued romance novels that misconstrue their evil intent. It’s disappointing to the fans that hold their violent and abhorrent behaviour in such high regard. Apparently Hendrix understands this and reunites readers with a new vampire rendition that is truly slaughterous. This evil thing is sly and deceptive. It walks in pure daylight and is a black stain on the unsuspecting community it chooses as its hunting ground with powers exceeding that of the vampires of old. 

Grady Hendrix is a champion of vintage horror and it’s evident in his writing. He has such a unique and prevalent voice because of this which is what makes him so alluring to horror aficionados. There are subtle nuances that bleed through the pages in his books. It’s the scenes steeped in gore, heart-pounding suspense and cautionary narratives which were so prevalent in ’80s horror fiction like that of Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons or Legion by William Peter Blatty. I am not convinced you will find anything else like his writing style in contemporary horror today. 

I’ve developed a deep hunger for Grady Hendrix’s books like that of the blood-thirsty creatures which he writes so well. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is a remarkable creature-feature teeming with dread and nostalgia by a distinguished writer who is scholarly in the art of inciting fear in those who long for it. If this novel is what fans can come to expect from the author, then the future of contemporary horror is in excellent hands. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix is published by Quirk Books and is available anywhere books are sold.

REVIEWER

Andrew ‘The Book Dad‘ and I am a reviewer of horror fiction. It is my intent to support those in the #HorrorCommunity any way I can while on my literary journey to reading all things terrifying and suspenseful! Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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