The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires – Published 2020
“Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.
Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.
But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.” – Goodreads
I have seen a lot of positive and negative hype surrounding this book, and was hesitant to buy it at first because of its name. Not because of vampires (I love vampires), but because I was worried it would be really religious or boring or something, I don’t know. I finally purchased it and it sat on my book cart for a month or so before I decided to take the plunge, and then I binged it in about 24 hours. For me, it lives up to all of the hype. It is interesting, different, infuriating, suspenseful and gruesome!
Patricia lives in a southern small town where she is underappreciated, bored, and held to high expectations by her kids, husband, neighborhood, and society. She’s a member of a prestigious book club, but because she is strapped for time and the books are painfully boring, she gets kicked out for not reading one of the monthly selections. When she leaves she is pulled aside by a few others who are bored to tears, and they form their own book club where they’ll read books they’re actually interested in, true crime stories.
Patricia and her friends are inhaling these stories, obsessing over them, and even hopeful that something interesting would happen in their boring, suburban neighborhood. That’s when everything changes. Patricia is attacked one night (IFKYK) and a string of crazy events unfolds from there. And, yes, there’s a vampire. And it’s so much worse than the bite your neck kind.
This book is set in the early 90s in the south. I was a toddler in the north during that time, so I am unable to tell you if the patriarchal society that these women live in is accurate or not, but it seems plausible. It’s truly infuriating how the women are treated, viewed and talked about. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their husbands expect them to cook, clean, tend to their elderly parents, drive kids around, entertain for friends, and vacuum the curtains, they’re also not taken seriously, they’re not believed when terrible things start happening, and many of them are enduring emotional or physical abuse. Our vampire enters this world and is immediately seen as a hero, because he is a man; he becomes a symbol of man’s power.
Another clear inequality showcased in this book is between black and white. Black children seem to be the most vulnerable, and even though Patricia’s attempts to come in and “save the day” seem to showcase her white privilege (evident even in women who are seen as hysterical and unreliable by their husbands), the black community is also rallying together to protect their own community and children. Because Patricia isn’t able to make everything better, I think it accurately displays the struggles and realities of the time.
There’s gore, ya’ll. There are rats, cockroaches, and blood. A lot of people said it made them gag. I didn’t, but some parts were pretty tough to read. 10/10 do not recommend reading after everyone’s gone to bed, but do recommend reading this one!