Over at WWAC I’ve reviewed the latest novel from Grady Hendrix:
Vampire fiction has evolved considerably in the just-over-two centuries since the genre was codified by John Polidori. Each year brings with it a new take on the theme that becomes the latest contender for classic status, and for 2020 that work may well be The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix. The Lord Ruthven Assembly certainly believes so, considering that they gave the novel their award for best vampire fiction last month; previously, Goodreads voters placed it in the top three horror books of 2020.
Grady Hendrix’s story begins in 1988 when Patricia Campbell and her smalltown South Carolina friends grow dissatisfied with their local book group. Struggling to find time for literary masterpieces about social issues, they end up drifting towards lurid volumes on true crime. The years pass and, come 1993, the book club is still together, meeting regularly to discuss their latest gruesome reads – the subject matter of which becomes all too topical for Patricia when she is suddenly attacked. The assailant is elderly local Ann Savage, who bites a chunk of her ear off; the attacker dies in hospital while Patricia recovers from her ordeal.
After this incident, Patricia forms an unlikely association with Mrs. Savage’s great nephew, James Harris. Charismatic and affluent, James becomes a hit with the local community. Behind the façade lies a dark secret, however, and Patricia is forced to confront the fact that the town has a vampire in its midst.