The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (Goodreads Author)
Amy Caudill‘s review
When I picked up this book I expected a paranormal adventure, perhaps with some female bonding, but what I got was a book that while containing a true horror tale was more about clashes between social classes and genders in 1990s Charleston, South Carolina.
The main character, Patricia, is a typical southern housewife-devoted to her career-minded, neglectful husband, and her two children who have their own issues, and has obligations to society to meet. She also has a mother-in-law who is senile living in her garage room and a new neighbor that is definitely too good to be true. Thankfully, she has her friends in the local book club to depend on when things get rough.
Who knew, that in 1990s Mt. Pleasant, a suburb of Charleston, the biggest obstacle a group of women would face when confronting a proven killer who has preyed on children and women for decades, would not be the monster himself. Instead, the real obstacles include their own beliefs regarding reality and religion, but also their overbearing, dictatorial husbands who when they ask for assistance refuse to believe them and are afraid they will embarrass themselves or more realistically, their husbands and their standing in the community.
The men believe the women have concocted this fantasy about James Harris, who is their new business partner, because they are bored housewives who spend too much time reading lurid and fanciful literature for their monthly book club meetings. The monster, James Harris, insinuates himself into their sheltered little society in such a way that the families all depend on his good graces for their good fortune. The men do not want to upset their partner, and the women are afraid to go against their husbands, because in some situations, they will pay with beatings and forced medication.
Patricia’s own husband, the doctor in the group, is convinced she is having a breakdown, and rather than listen to her, prescribes anti-depressants and accuses her of destroying their family. In the face of the overwhelming obstacles, the women let the fight go, until events that include a reappearance of Patricia’s now dead mother-in-law and a fatal attack on one of their own force them to band together and act.
This book, the first I have read by author Grady Hendrix, is so much more than a horror novel. It does contain truly terrifying scenes that are not for children or anyone who does not appreciate gore, but the blood and mayhem is not the main focus of the book. I award the author five stars, and applaud him for a novel that contains depth of plot that surprised me.