• Jenn Kalchik

Book Review: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

I owe it to Grady Hendrix, author of "My Best Friend's Exorcism", for sparking my interest in reading for fun. I still read on occasion, but after college, I was so burned out from reading/studying that I needed to give myself a break. After reading "My Best Friend's Exorcism", I was inspired to read more and find new books to read. Hendrix's latest release, "The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires" is a great nostalgic read that sprinkles in relevant social issues like sexism and poverty.

While it is not a direct sequel to "My Best Friend's Exorcism", "The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires" takes place in the same town [a suburb of Charleston, SC] and also features the same high school, but the story is set in the 1990s. This time, the story is told through the perspective of Patricia Campbell, mother of two kids, a teenaged daughter (Korey) and pre-teen son (Blue), and married to Carter Campell, an investor. Patricia is a stay-at-home mother who is part of a book club with similar women, but they don't like to call it a book club. One night, Patricia is attacked by an elderly neighbor who we presume has gone crazy. Her relative, James Harris, comes to town to settle the neighbor's affairs after she dies and decides to stay in town. Eventually, the reader learns that Harris is actually a vampire that is feeding on the book club's children and taking advantage of their husbands.

What's interesting about this telling of a vampire story is that James spends more time seducing/impressing the men of Charleston rather than focusing on gaining attention from the women. The men are scarily sexist towards their wives. He would rather win the 'affection' of those who have steady full-time jobs rather than focus his attention on the wives of the book club. As the story begins, we learn that Harris has been targeting the children of a poverty-stricken suburb of Charleston, but everyone assumed it was a drug problem and the police did not want to be involved. Even though the story is set in the 1990s, it tackles issues like feminism, poverty, and police responsibility that would make sense during that time period.

For my 2020 Reading Challenges, I used "he Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires" for the following prompts and challenges:

I always love a good supernatural thriller, and this was a good fit to keep me on my toes without scaring me enough to quit reading. If you're a fan of Stephen King, Hendrix has a similar writing style/niche where his stories can really stick with you. There are different vampire tropes that I was not familiar with, such as the bloodlust of the person getting bit and how vampires can control animals, which Hendrix uses as part of the storyline in a creepy, sadistic way. While "The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires" is not perfect, it's a captivating read that you should add to your "to-be-read" pile.

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