Grady Hendrix's newest novel, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, is a fast-paced and gory tale that centers around Patricia Campbell and her circle of Southern housewife friends joined by their love of risqué books. Each month, their book club alternates between true crime stories such as Helter Skelter and The Stranger Beside Me and steamy romance novels like The Bridges of Madison County. The chosen book topics aren't something the women's husbands approve of, and when book club member Patricia feels something is amiss after being attacked by an elderly neighbor, the R-rated content is the root of the blame.
The real change in their small South Carolina town, however, is the appearance of James Harris, the elderly neighbor's nephew who is allergic to the sun, handsome and charismatic, and doesn't seem to have any ties to anyone or anything except his aunt who passes away shortly after he comes to town.
While I thought the hardest parts to read would be the violent parts — I read reviews talking about how explicit some of the content is (and that holds true) — it was the underlying current of racism and privilege that was even harder to swallow. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires centers around rich, white housewives living in the south, and Hendrix portrays them as having a blatant disregard for the neighboring poor black community, who Harris knows to prey on first because of the no one cares if poor black children go missing.
If the book were an actual guide it would read: Ignore your instincts, listen to your husband, and don't take action until your family is gravely affected.
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires is one you will read and won’t soon forget.