So, I’ve been in a but of a funk lately regarding what I’ve wanted to read. I had a record-breaking year in 2019 when it comes to number of books read… But this year? I’m having trouble getting to the halfway point in the books I pick up.
Then I opened up Grady Hendrix’s latest novel, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. A few days later, I finished it. There are very few books that I’d describe as “hard to put down” (because, I mean, come on, you just put the book down, dummy), but this one had me reading when I normally wouldn’t read. Other content lost all meaning while I was making my way through this one. When I should have been playing games or watching videos, I couldn’t help but think about what was happening in this book – I had no choice but to finish it as quickly as possible.
I’m a huge fan of horror stories, whether in the form of a book, movie, video game, etc. I particularly love horror stories that involve a monster. The trouble is, I have a hard time finding monsters in horror scary. This book is the exception to the rule. While I found the monster’s form to be appealing but needlessly contrived, it was the monster’s behavior that was the most terrifying to me. Its convincing portrayal as a southern gentleman had me questioning not only the protagonist’s judgment but also my own throughout the entire book – and I can’t think of many things scarier than that. Oh, and the part where Patricia, the protagonist, gets trapped in the attic? That part literally made me gag. That’s good horror, right there.
While all of that is tremendous and very good, my favorite part of the novel had to be the struggles of the main characters against the various forms of discrimination present within the community where the characters live. Race, gender, religion, mental health… they all come into play here. The ways the tensions affect the story feel realistic and are enthralling throughout the read. Every dynamic between every character left the ending up in the air until, well, the very end.
And while I was questioning nearly every decision the protagonist made during the story, I was cheering her on in the end – another rare occurrence for me. But from the two titles I’ve read from the author in the last year, they seem to have a knack for making characters feel realistic, so I’ll chalk my indecision about her nature for most of the book up to that.
I’d recommend this book to anybody. In fact, I do, whether the person I’m talking to reads or not. I loved my time with this book and it could end up being my favorite book of 2020. Read it. Now. Go.