The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires
April 2020 Indie Next List
— Colin Sneed, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
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Steel Magnolias meets Dracula in this New York Times best-selling horror novel about a women's book club that must do battle with a mysterious newcomer to their small Southern town.
Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt smaller. Her husband is a workaholic, her teenage kids have their own lives, her senile mother-in-law needs constant care, and she’s always a step behind on her endless to-do list. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime. At these meetings they’re as likely to talk about the Manson family as they are about their own families.
One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor's handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. James is well traveled and well read, and he makes Patricia feel things she hasn’t felt in years. But when children on the other side of town go missing, their deaths written off by local police, Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt. The real problem? James is a monster of a different kind—and Patricia has already invited him in.
Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia’s life and try to take everything she took for granted—including the book club—but she won’t surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.
Praise For The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Novel…
A Barnes & Noble Best Fiction Book of 2020
2021 Locus Award Finalist
A Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist
#1 April 2020 LibraryReads Pick
April 2020 Indie Next Pick
Amazon Best Book of April 2020
A Library Journal Editors' Pick for April 2020
The A.V. Club Best Book of April 2020
A POPSUGAR Best Book for Book Clubs 2020
One of Good Housekeeping's 30 of the Scariest Horror Books Ever Written
“This funny and fresh take on a classic tale manages to comment on gender roles, racial disparities, and white privilege all while creeping me all the way out. So good.”—Zakiya Dalila Harris, author of The Other Black Girl
“Ghosts of the past have also inspired one of the most rollicking, addictive novels I’ve read in years: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix, a tale of housewives battling vampires that is sweetly painful, like hard candy that breaks a tooth.”—Danielle Trussoni for The New York Times Book Review
“A delight...its incisive social commentary and meaningful character development make The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires not just a palatable read for non-horror fans, but a winning one.”—USA Today, 3.5 out of 4 star review
“Funny, gruesome, and wild, this rollicking novel from horror luminary Grady Hendrix is Desperate Housewives meets Dracula.”—Esquire
“Delightful read that reads like Dracula set in the '90s American South....Perfect for fans of horror and real-life crime alike.”—Good Housekeeping
“The novel is a charming testament to friendships and life's imperfections, with dashes of rot and savagery to earn its keep in horror literature....It's a rollercoaster [that] lands as a vampire story concreted in vileness and Southern charm.”—Fangoria
“[Hendrix] remains excellent at staging page-turning sequences of excitement and anxiety...[and] a master of adding little details that fill in the landscape of his Southern-fried world.”—The A.V. Club
“As fun (and as creepy) as the title suggests….This novel will definitely whet your appetite if you’re looking for something a bit eccentric and spooky.”—BuzzFeed
“This book should be required reading for all Southern women....[It] transports you back to all the best parts of the 1990's while throwing more than enough thrill and chill into the mix.”—Country Living
“[A] clever, addictive vampire thriller....This powerful, eclectic novel both pays homage to the literary vampire canon and stands singularly within it.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Hendrix cleverly sprinkles in nods to well-established vampire lore, and the fact that he's a master at conjuring heady 1990s nostalgia is just the icing on what is his best book yet. Fans of smart horror will sink their teeth into this one.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Hendrix has masterfully blended the disaffected housewife trope with a terrifying vampire tale, and the anxiety and tension are palpable...a cheeky, spot-on pick for book clubs.”—Booklist, starred review
Quirk Books, 9781683691433, 408pp.
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. After an uncomfortable introduction to the neighborhood, James Harris quickly and almost seamlessly transitions into being a trusted resident. Why does he fit in so well despite his sudden and surprising appearance?
2. Discuss the dynamics of the neighborhood. What are the pros and cons of living in a suburban community like Mt. Pleasant in the 1990s? Do these vary depending on gender, race, or social status?
3. The book is female-driven, and much of the horror happens to women and children. How do all the women in the book club respond to reports of strange or downright scary events, and how does their environment influence the different strengths and weaknesses they display?
4. “Something strange is going on” is a phrase Patricia repeats throughout the book. Are there red flags about James Harris early on that the women miss, or ignore? Are their reservations different from those of their husbands?
5. Patricia is the one person who remains suspicious of her handsome new neighbor despite his friendly and charming exterior. Why do you think she, out of all James Harris’s new friends in their quiet neighborhood, is more prone to considering the possibility of a menace in their midst?
6. The response to reports of missing children in Six Mile versus Mt. Pleasant differs greatly, among both residents and law enforcement. What are the social implications of these differing reactions, and how do they influence the way the story plays out?
7. Despite the small-town charm and close-knit ties in Mt. Pleasant, Patricia finds her confidence broken again and again by people she trusts. How is her trust betrayed, both inside her social circle and beyond her community?
8. Although there is one obvious monster at the center of the story, we learn that fear, dread, and terror come in many forms. Is there more than one kind of monster? What are the scariest elements of this story and why?
9. Discuss how the women come together to end the threat to their community. Do you think the women’s actions are justified, or do they go too far?
10. Discuss the novel in terms of other vampire horror fiction. What elements of vampire lore has Grady Hendrix expanded upon, discarded, and added to the genre? Do you think he has successfully furthered readers’ expectations for the vampire novel?