Well I read Horrorstör and My Best Friend’s Exorcism, so I guess none of you will be surprised that I went ahead and read The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. This book is really new so this review will be spoiler-free, don’t worry!
He also wrote Paperbacks from Hell, a history of the horror paperback boom in the Seventies and Eighties that followed the success of Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, and Thomas Tryon’s The Other. It is so popular it won a Stoker Award, and while you may not know what that is, trust me when I say that it is a big, big deal that gets Grady 20% off all purchases at the Franklin Mint. – from Hendrix’s website
I already outlined Grady Hendrix in my Horrorstör review, so check that out if you need more information.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is a spiritual sequel to My Best Friend’s Exorcism. It’s about adult friendships rather than high school friendships, and while it doesn’t feature any of the same characters it takes place in the same neighborhood, about five years later, in the Nineties. It’s the story of a book club who realize that their new neighbor might not just be some yankee from away, he might be a literal monster. But who’s going to take a bunch of housewives seriously? – from Hendrix’s website
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is a horror novel that was published just this month. It’s set in the same town as My Best Friend’s Exorcism and as you may have read in the above excerpt, it is a spiritual successor to My Best Friend’s Exorcism.
The themes of friendship are there, along with the familiar WASPy characters. This time it’s a vampire, rather than a demon, that threatens the protagonists. Instead of parents and adults not believing a teenager, it is husbands who refuse to believe their wives.
The same claustrophobic feeling that was in My Best Friend’s Exorcism is in The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. You get some women afraid to defy their husbands, to make a scene, to cause a stir and bring embarrassment to the family. They have to rise above it and band together, to use what they know, and let their love for their families and each other fuel their courage and drive their actions.
Hendrix also takes an interesting twist on the vampire legend, which added to the thrill of the story.
This was another gripping story with dynamic characters, and a setting that was a character unto itself. In all three novels; Horrorstör, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, and The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, there were similar themes of helplessness, toxic settings, and painfully human characters.
I really enjoyed Hendrix’s unique take on vampire lore in this story. I won’t say more and leave it to you to read and see how he twisted it.
In The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, it almost felt like there were three antagonists: the vampire, the belittling husbands, and the housewives’ own prejudices and fears. It made for a unique sense of tension, where you grow to dislike the husbands as much of the villain.
At times, it did feel like the husbands were rather one dimensional. Of course, it could be realistic for the time setting, but I wondered if there would be at least one husband who would take his wife’s word, who would trust his wife, the woman he married and supposedly loved. But all the husbands acted the same and mostly all made the same mistakes, and just presented barriers to the wives. Maybe, if you read it, you might not read it the same way. Let me know what you think!
x P.L. McMillan