“The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampire’s” is a bit of a misnomer. You don’t really get a “guide” and there is just the one “vampire”, and the lore around that particular vampire is unlike any I’m familiar with. But that was part of the fun of this book. Or, not fun, as this was an intense commentary on gaslighting, sexism, and racism in Charleston in the early 90’s. Or as intense of a commentary as a white man can make, but I think the point was infuriatingly well made. And while there is no mystery around the vampire, even if it takes these housewives awhile to see it for themselves, the writing was easy and creepy and managed to make me absolutely rage at all the right places. This book really was a look into just how vital the invisible support system of running a household is, the overlooked emotional labor, and just how overtly that gets taken advantage of, in no small part thanks to the burden of hospitality ingrained in each of these women. This was my first book by this author so I was a bit hesitant at first as horror is hit or miss for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed this satirical horror story.
I am a new mom and a big true crime fan so already the ladies in this book resonated with me. These moms, despite being very different from one another, are all easy to like and root for. And it’s also very easy to wish every single one of their husbands would burn in a fire. And that’s before the “villain” shows up. But really, James isn’t just a vampire. He’s a symbol of the socio-economic divide between communities. The fact that no one cared about what he did in the poorer, predominately Black neighborhoods until it started to affect the upper-class white neighborhoods, for example. It would have been nice if Mrs. Greene was more of a main character for that very reason, but as Patricia was the only main character in the entire book club, I’ll try not to get hung up on it too much. This book is satire, and while some people may claim it feels more like the 1950’s instead of the 1990s, I KNOW a lot of places in the South still operate the way Hendrix portrays this community (I lived in a suburb of New Orleans for a few years and can attest to that). Hendrix may be the only male writer I’ve read that really captured the utter rage and frustration of how these women are constantly talked over and how condescending their husbands are to them. I honestly went to bed mad so many times because of it, but that was also the point, so kudos to the author there.
However the book is a bit slow in the middle. Which is why I am giving it 4 stars; the pacing was my only real issue. It felt like it took such a long time for the housewives to go up against James in, as Hendrix says, “Dracula vs. my mom” once Patricia knows what she’s up against. When the showdown did happen, it was perfectly gory and unsettling and Patricia and Kitty were so clutch that I was mentally clapping for them the entire time. Even Slick and Grace, who I liked the least, had my sympathy at the end and I wanted nothing more than for them to win. Well, maybe not Grace so much, but I liked how Ms. Greene called her out, too. The ending was a little bittersweet, but it also felt right for the characters and their families, as well. All this to say, not only did I really enjoy this book, but I’m excited to read more by this author in the future!
Click the book images to see them on Amazon!