I loved Grady Hendrix’s book Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. It was a wonderful, satirical send up of vampire novels and the Southern suburbs. I get that is wasn’t for everyone, but Hendrix really nailed his tongue-in-check, nearly meta take on vampire troupes and Southern suburb living. So when I saw that Hendrix had written a book to be a send of slasher films and final girls, I was stoked. Hendrix, however, missed this mark with this one. The set-up is straightforward: Lynette is an a support group for final girls, women who have survived horrific and brutal attacks, but someone is now trying to kill them all off again. It’s up to Lynette and the few allies she has to stop the attacks and keep the only people who understand her trauma safe.
Lynette starts the novel by explaining how careful she is: she has fortified her home, she doesn’t leave unless she absolutely must, she tracks people when she is out to see if anyone is following her, she doubles back on her route to lose potential tales, and more. She’s smart! She plans and thinks very carefully. Except when it’s not convenient for the plot because then Lynette lets all of the careful planning and forethought just fly out the window. And I get it; people in slashers also make dumb decisions that don’t make any sense. Maybe that’s what Hendrix was trying do here. But the people making those terrible decisions in slashers are just average people. They are survivors whose entire identity is wrapped in continuing to survive.
And this attempt to play with tropes with little success is consistent throughout the book. There were so many other characters who just felt very 1 dimensional. Perhaps Hendrix was playing with tropes but there was nothing new said about any of these troupes. There’s a lot of back and forth between who was the killer in Lynette’s mind; I felt like it changed on every page. That felt like part of the mystery of who the killer is in a slasher with a couple of red herrings and misdirects, but ultimately it felt like Hendrix didn’t know who the killer was and he was brainstorming ideas along with Lynette.
Truth be told, I read this book a few months ago, so I’m a little hazy on many of the finer details on the plot, but one of the most crucial moments of any slasher is when the killer is revealed and there’s at least some level of relief the the Final Girl has bested her villain and at least some level of justice has been had. I do not remember who the killer was. I do not recall how this book ended. It was less than impactful.