Author: Matt Haig
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary, Horror, Fiction
See it at Goodreads
Just about everyone knows a family like the Radleys. Many of us grew up next door to one. They are a modern family, averagely content, averagely dysfunctional, living in a staid and quiet suburban English town. Peter is an overworked doctor whose wife, Helen, has become increasingly remote and uncommunicative. Rowan, their teenage son, is being bullied at school, and their anemic daughter, Clara, has recently become a vegan. They are typical, that is, save for one devastating exception: Peter and Helen are vampires and have—for seventeen years—been abstaining by choice from a life of chasing blood in the hope that their children could live normal lives.
One night, Clara finds herself driven to commit a shocking—and disturbingly satisfying—act of violence, and her parents are forced to explain their history of shadows and lies. A police investigation is launched that uncovers a richness of vampire history heretofore unknown to the general public. And when the malevolent and alluring Uncle Will, a practicing vampire, arrives to throw the police off Clara’s trail, he winds up throwing the whole house into temptation and turmoil and unleashing a host of dark secrets that threaten the Radleys’ marriage.
The Radleys is a moving, thrilling, and radiant domestic novel that explores with daring the lengths a parent will go to protect a child, what it costs you to deny your identity, the undeniable appeal of sin, and the everlasting, iridescent bonds of family love. Read it and ask what we grow into when we grow up, and what we gain—and lose—when we deny our appetites.
I like quirky books. I really like character-driven stories. I find myself really admiring authors who create many characters in one world, but give them each their own story…their own personality and life. Matt Haig did this for me in The Radleys.
I’d randomly surfed across this book one day on Goodreads, and from there knew it was a book I needed to read. I don’t know how many of you have ever had this experience, but it happens to me on occasions. I find books through searches--and then I can’t stop thinking about them until I get my hands on them. It’s as if my subconscious knows it’s meant for me to experience. And I’m glad I finally had the opportunity to pick this one up because I absolutely loved it.
This is probably not a book everyone will love. There will be a particular audience that adores it, and perhaps an audience that doesn’t quite find it so appealing. The thing I’d like to say though is that first and foremost, look past the word “vampires”. It’s so much more than that. Yes, it’s about vampires. There’s some dark humor sprinkled throughout, a bit of an adult cross-over parody at times on the take of modern vampire fiction, but through it all, it’s more than just a vampire story.
The chapters are rather short, sometimes only a page in length at times. If you’re bothered by short chapters, then this feature may be aggravating to you. Personally, I’m not bothered by chapter length as long as it works properly to the flow of the story. It did here, so I found it fitting.
What I really loved was the focus on the family. Who knew that even a family of vampires could have as much drama as a human family? I commend Matt Haig at making such a realistic family with real problems (bullies, etc.) that draw a reader right into the story. I sympathized with the characters.
It’s intelligent and witty. Sometimes frightening and dark. Quirky and unexpected. Even if you’re out of touch with the whole vampire thing nowadays, I’d recommend this for the theme and the depth of the character building. I really quite enjoyed reading The Radleys and look forward to reading more from this author in the future.