First … After nearly 15 years of Twilight hate, the internet is suddenly aflutter with Stephanie Meyer’s prequel announcement. If you’re entirely over sparkly vampires — and/or if you’re Robert Pattinson — never fear. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is about as far from Forks, Washington, as you can get.
… but there was something wrong with the lower half of his face. Something black, shiny, and chitinous, like a cockroach’s leg, stuck several inches out of his mouth. His jaws hung open, stupefied, as he blinked blearily in the light.
Second, I want to express how gosh darn thankful I am that this book exists. Why? Well, it was a pretty awesome read. But also: One of the prompts for this year’s PopuSugar reading challenge is a book about a book club.
Confession: I hate book clubs. (Like, I hate book clubs.) I also dislike contemporary/literary fiction — just not my genre of choice. And, as most books about book clubs fall into that category …
How do you say “I’d rather read a first-year student’s essay” in French?
Je préfère lire un essai de première année.
What’s it about?
1990s. South Carolina.
Patricia Campbell lives an unassuming life as a homemaker. Good neighbourhood. Two kids. Physician husband. Dinner on the table at 7. Bored but unable to escape, one of the few things Patricia looks forward to is her monthly true crime book club.
… until, one night, Patricia is viciously attacked by her elderly neighbour.
… and Patricia’s upper-middle-class world starts to crumble.
… no thanks to the charming, rich bachelor who moves in down the road. Who Patricia is — quite certain — is a vampire.
Things I liked:
The vampire. Ladies and gents, this is a VAMPIRE!
My real-life nightmare. I don’t have anything personal against suburban housewives, but that sort of life is pretty close to being my worst-case-scenario future. As terrifying as vampires are, Patricia’s life — the misogynist husband, her loss of identity, her mostly-shallow relationships — is horrible. And Hendrix captures it beautifully.
The characters. I’d like to say that the characters in this book are caricatures … but, I know — like, personally — people who are like this. It’s a rather brilliant rendering of human nature and flaws.
The social commentary. There’s very little about modern life that isn’t critiqued in this book: relationships, sexism, mental health/illness, poverty, domestic abuse, racism, raising children, materialism. The text doesn’t go into great detail regarding these themes — nor does it offer a solution (beyond the obvious don’t cheat/be sexist/etc.) — but I appreciated the fact that they were recognized. It makes the story more complex and relatable.
What I Didn’t Like
The Pacing. This book takes a while to build. Though there’s a pretty excellent (revolting?) WTF moment near the start — right around chapter 4 — it’s not until about chapter 17 that the story starts to pick up … then it drops off again. It has the rhythm of an 8-episode mini-series rather than a 90-minute B-grade horror movie.
“You’d rather get stabbed forty-one times than ruin the curb appeal of your home?” Maryellen asked.“Yes,” Grace said.
- The Book: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
- Published: 2020, Quirk Books
- My Copy: VIRL
- Read date: March 27 – April 9, 2020
- Rating/5: 🧛🏻♂️🧛🏻♂️🧛🏻♂️🧛🏻♂️
- You should read this if you like … genre-bending
- Avoid this if you dislike … vacuuming curtains