Review: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
After reading My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix in October, I was excited to try his latest novel. I am officially giving Hendrix the title of Camp Horror King.
The one thing Patricia Campbell has to look forward to is her book club: a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighbourhood, the book club's meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he's a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she - and her book club - are the only people standing between the monster they've invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.
Generally speaking, I have almost nothing negative to say about this book. In a suburban setting, this book thrived on every stereotype we love to see. For example, in the opening chapter, Patricia attends a book club for a book she hasn't read; if you are a member of a book club and have yet to try this, you're not doing it right. It was the perfect setup to have the reader howling with laughter all the way through.
The characters were well written, with Patricia being a believable housewife from the late 80s/early 90s. Based on other reviews I've seen, a lot of people have claimed that Hendrix's writing is sexist and his depiction of women is inaccurate. From the two books of his that I have read, female characters are the main characters and in no way did I find his depiction of women offensive. The books are clearly an homage to the horror movies of the 80s and 90s where the main characters were female, always survived and beat out 'the bad guy', and were often based on stereotypes in their own right - but they ultimately come out on top every time! Patricia has 'housewife' tendencies as she frets over a children and has an overbearing husband who consistently undermines her and assumes she is hysterical. We also have to consider the type of books that Hendrix is writing; they are not timeless classics about the female experience. They are camp horror novels which are supposed to be fun and entertaining (whilst giving you a good scare every now and then).
Now for the negatives. One of the aspects of this book that dropped my rating was the pacing in the middle of the book. The beginning is hysterical and includes some good gore, and the ending is fast paced with more laughs thrown in. The middle section of the book feels slower in it's pace and didn't have the same direction. Although there were good segments of character building and plot development in this section, it didn't have the same gripping additions that made the beginning and ending so captivating. My other downside was the lack of gore. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires included less gore and horror than Hendrix's other novel which left me feeling short-changed. This book amped up the camp, but I would have liked the gore to have been amped up too!
Initial Prediction: 5 stars
Final Rating: 4.5 stars
Publication Date: 7 April 2020
Publisher: Quirk Books
# of Pages: 404