The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
A true crime loving Southern book club faces off against a vampire—but is it really a vampire, or just a conglomeration of their fears and boredom?
Holy shit this was terrifying.
And I’m not talking about the vampire.
“You’d rather get stabbed forty-one times than ruin the curb appeal of your home?”
This quote should honestly be the book’s subtitle, because it’s oh, so true.
This book perfectly encapsulated the horrors of that interesting Southern blend of White suburbia, speculative land development and systemic racism. Of course, neither of these things exist solely in the American Southeast, but they are their their most exposed there.
Really, the vampire was the least terrifying thing about the book—ok, no not really. The creepy parts with Ann Savage and the man on the roof scene (that hand!) and the rats were horrific. But when it came to the ingratiating mundanity of a con-man in the middle of a con, the real enemy was revealed to be White men (and their wives) and the various ways they exerted power.
The vampire just exploited the system to his benefit. He preyed openly on the Black, impoverished and marginalized community that lived on the outskirts of the Old Village. First he came for their children, then he came for their homes. He literally erased their history and community and made them the scapegoats for his never-ending hunger.
And of course, the vampire used White folks’ innate ability to deny everything that happened to Black people (or instead of denying, blame the victims for their fates or shrug and say, “well, what can I do about it?) until it happens to them.
Anywho, in addition to being an indictment against systemic prejudice, this is a smash against the patriarchy.
Because honestly, the husbands in this book are fucking awful.
And Patricia’s husband is the worst. He’s the kind of man who scrambled up from poverty, and has been in a position of power for so long that he’s used to wielding it like it’s nothing. He’s been the smartest man in the room, and he uses his intelligence and degree in psychology to manipulate everyone around him into giving him whatever the hell he wants—and then blaming them when things go wrong.
The rest of the men are no better. The vampire reveals each of their innermost sins—lust, wrath, pride, envy, gluttony, and greed…so much greed—as he offers them everything they could ever desire and then some.
In the end, the arrogance of men will be their downfall. #spoilernotspoiler
And of course, the book reveals who the true heroes are: the Black women who reveal the danger, who do what they can to fight the power, who survive. And then who have to deal with the mess because the White women are in shambles when shit goes down.
And also because they know how to get blood out of a carpet.
Anywho, despite all these serious themes that I’m probably taking waaaaaaay out of context, this was a fantastic book. It’s fucking funny (something that I don’t think my review captures AT ALL), and an insightful peek into the banality and surprising rigor of the lives of Southern housewives.
I’ll be honest though: I still never really figured out what Patricia did with herself all day.
And really, that’s because a dude wrote the book.
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires released April 7, 2020 from Quirk Books