Author: Grady Hendrix
Publisher: Quirk Books
Rating: 4 stars
Read: October 2022
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.
Why did I sleep so long on this book?! I really enjoyed this and stood up way too late for several nights because I couldn’t put it down. It’s gory, gross, legitimately creepy, and hilarious all at the same time.
This is my first Grady Hendrix book, and I enjoy his writing. The character dialogue flows well, and the horror scenes were truly visceral. The end kind of dragged and wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was still good.
I know some reviews get upset about the sexism in this story. However, I think…that’s the point??
James Harris is able to thrive and flourish in this Charleston community because of sexism and racism. He becomes a pillar of the community among the men who ignore their wives and discount their silly little book club.
He has found himself a community that values appearances above all else. Patricia is silenced because “What will everyone think?” The women in Patricia’s book club are all white, and all operate in this upper-middle-class community. Whether consciously or subconsciously, they have internalized the misogyny, racism, and classism of their world and take it for granted.
James Harris, presenting himself as a white man, knows this. He manipulates the levers of power that are in place and makes the system work for him. I think the main point of the book is that Patricia and her friends discover (kind of tamely, in my opinion) the true horrors lying beneath American society.
The main drawback of the book is the element of white savior complex in the plot. This book takes place in the South in the 1990s, so that is a factor.
The white book club ladies don’t truly care about what James Harris is doing until it’s happening in their own community and their own children are threatened. I understand the purpose of doing that, but I feel like Mrs. Greene’s character and the community of Six Mile could have contributed so much more to the plot. Instead, they seemed more tokenized than valued.
Overall, I loved this book. I highly recommend it to fans of horror!
Content warning: SA, child abuse, body horror, sexism, racism, a scene with a cockroach (I’m not trying to be funny I legit hate cockroaches, and I hated that scene)
Should You Read It?
You’ll enjoy The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires if you:
- Love gothic horror
- Are fine with body horror
- Have a dark sense of humor
Horror not your thing? Check out these cozy witch romance books.
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