Thursday 14 July 2011

The Radleys by Matt Haig

The Radleys are a stereotypical, suburban, middle class British family.  They listen to radio four, attend book clubs, discuss golf during dinner parties with their equally middle class neighbours and make lunch the evening before going to work.  But they have some oddities - they can't go out in the sun without sunblock, a vegetarian diet makes them ill and son Rowan keeps getting a funny skin rash ...

This darkly humorous book from Matt Haig is a new take on vampire novels.  There's no romance, abstinence or glamour here, it's just normal people that happen to be vampires and are faintly embarrassed about it enough to hide it from their children.  In fact, the vampire plot at times takes the back-seat to the more literary-type themes of unhappy marriages, self-denial, corruption in the police and isolation.  The Radleys are vampires, but the book isn't just about that.

When daughter Clara is attacked, her vampire impulses break through and this blows open the Radleys carefully constructed world.  Clara and Rowan must deal with being completely different from who they thought they are and brother in law Will is drafted in to help deal with the aftermath of the attack.  A 'practising' vampire, he causes many family tensions to surface and the marriage between Helen and Peter comes under pressure.  Rowan also gets the chance to get his own back on the bullies that have been making his life miserable.

I very much enjoyed reading this book and loved all of the satirical elements of it.  The first half, where the Radley children realise they are vampires, was more enjoyable than the second, which became just a tad Jerry Springer like with Will and Helen.  The Radleys was well written and had a fast pace, making it hard to put down.

Verdict: A new take on the vampire myth, well worth a read.
Source: Owned
Score: 4 out of 5


  1. The title of this one immediately brought to mind To Kill a Mockingbird for me, and I thought this was some alternate retelling from Boo's point of view.

    While my assumption was way off mark, this sounds like a really clever book!

  2. love the cover! i, like Lisa, thought of To Kill a Mockingbird right away. can't say I would've guessed it had a vampire twist just by looking, but it sounds interesting!

  3. This book has been on my wishlist for quite some time. Even though my past experiences with vampire novels have not been good, I think I will like this one.
    Love the premise! Great review!

  4. For some reason I had thought this was a YA book and a romance kind of thing - whoops! Is it quite literary in fact?

  5. Lisa - I hadn't even made that connection, although I love To Kill a Mockingbird!

    Bailey - Yes, the UK cover doesn't give the vampire stuff away at all. The US cover is more 'horror' though.

    Misha - I think you would like this one, and it is different from other vampire books.

    Mummazappa - I wouldn't say it's literary, but it's not YA or romance at all. It's the opposite of that cliche! :P

  6. This sounds like a very fun read - thanks so much for the review!