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Patricia Campbell is a stereotypical ‘80s-‘90s Charleston doctor’s wife. She has the right look and the right hair, she lives in the right neighborhood, her kids go to the right schools, she has the right friends, and she’s bravely taking care of her senile mother-in-law to boot. It’s all a little…stifling. Her one outlet is her book club. Unbeknownst to their husbands, Patricia and her friends love to meet and drink and read “trashy” true crime novels. So you’d think they’d be ready to investigate when children start disappearing from the nearby Black community. Some of them want to help, they really do, but the stakes are high and getting higher. And it’s easy to ignore what isn’t happening in your own neighborhood–until it is.
Whoa! I somehow expected this to be funny as well as scary. Look at that title. Can’t you just see the ‘80s moms with their big hair going after the bad guy? Maybe staking him with a stiletto heel after a cocktail party? It had its moments but mostly it was really, really dark. Like, really dark. And trigger-ish for some readers.
The pacing of the story was great for me, starting off a little slow, a little questioning, then building to small peaks of nail-biting suspense, easing off a bit, and repeating and getting more and more suspenseful until the big finale. There were enough twists and turns to keep me guessing. And is there room for a sequel? I’m not sure….
Aside from the vampire horror story, there was (and still is) a lot wrong in this town. The police just wrote off all the disappearances from the Black community. The kids must have been on drugs, or run away, or gotten themselves killed for a crime they must have committed, right? Grrr…. And the women’s husbands! I wanted to smack them all upside the head a few (dozen) times. They were so chauvinistic, controlling, and condescending! At least the vampire is just doing what vampires do. What excuse do misogynist racists have? It all makes you wonder (as I feel the author intended) who the real villain of the piece is.
Don’t go into this thinking that it’s a fun horror-lite novel. This is real horror on a lot of levels. It does contain triggers for some readers. It can be read for straight entertainment or for a discussion of what exactly is monstrous in our society. I obviously can’t recommend it unilaterally but it worked for me in quite unexpected ways. Pick it up if the synopsis interests you. I’d love to know what you think.
If you liked The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, you might also like my reviews of
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (I crack myself up with this review. It’s so on point.)
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
Buy The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires from Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, NC.
I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in beautiful Asheville, NC. I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you purchase merchandise through links on my site.