Grady Hendrix is becoming the king of quirky horror novels that both amuse and terrify. Just look at his titles! The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is his latest novel, delving into the world of vampires, and it does not disappoint.
For one, Mr. Hendrix does not stick to the tried-and-true vampiric myth. His vampires are a cross between Dracula and The Strain. However, he does add his own special twist to make things even more complicated for our hapless heroines.
Described as Steel Magnolias meets Dracula, you expect strong female characters. What I found surprising was that the story has a surprising amount of anti-sexist, anti-racist elements to it. Half of Patricia’s battle against the vampire invading her neighborhood is fighting against the innate racism that existed (still exists) in Charleston in the 1980s. If crimes don’t occur in wealthy, white neighborhoods, no one cares.
While tackling that social justice issue, Patricia must also deal with the sexism that is every husband in the novel. Be warned, ladies. The things they say and do are enough to make your blood boil. Patricia and her friends face everything from being told that they do not do anything when they stay at home all day to having to listen to their husbands because “they know what is best for you” to heavily hinted spousal abuse. Whatever they face, though, you know that Mr. Hendrix does not believe in what he wrote but rather created these husbands to show how wrong they are.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is not just another vampire book. It is an homage to mothers, particularly stay-at-home mothers, for they are the ones that get shit done. The book is an acknowledgment of everything mothers do for their families, no matter how hidden the actions might be. The story shows his appreciation for the lengths to which mothers will go to protect their loved ones, and it is great. Well-imagined and well-executed, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is a great read that confirms that mothers, and book clubs, rule.