Book Review: The Radleys by Matt Haig

A book I picked up with no expectations at all, during my lunch time library run.

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It was shelved in the ‘Book Club’ picks and those have always appealed to me. So I picked it up, and forgot all about it, until I saw it on my book shelf and decided to give it a go. Reading the extract at the back, I was rather disappointed to see that it was all about vampires. Not something that hugely appealed to me. I don’t read that sort of stuff, you know. The closest I came to them was a movie of that hugely popular vampire series, but definitely not something I would want to read. But then this was the only book that was available, and I didn’t want to read on the Kindle, so decided to plough on, not actually looking forward to it.

The Radleys are your regular neighbours. Living in a regular English village, in a nice house, with a very common people’s carrier as their car. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing about them stands out but if you look closely, you might notice things which are a little amiss. There are no birds chirping near their house, and they keep their blinds dran most of the time, for instance. Because though they have been trying hard to lead a regular life, they are vampires. But they are abstainers, vampires who avoid blood. They live their life as normally as they can, but their skins are just not suited to be out in the daylight, so they have to stay covered in suncream, and have to work hard to keep inconspicous. It is not always easy though.

Helen and Peter have been raising their children, Rowan and Clara, to lead what they consider a normal life, and the children have no idea about the truth. They do know that they are different, and their friends consider them freaks because of their pale skin and outward appearance, but they have no idea how different they actually are.

Things change in an instant when Clara is attacked on her way home from a party. Peter and Helen are forced to confront the truth of their existence and explain to Rowan and Clara all that they had kept hidden for so long.

A fascinating book. Once I started reading it, I found myself unable to stop. It was gripping and so very different from what I expected. It also made me wonder if it could possibly be true. The way the author handles the subject makes it so plausible. The ending was rather tame, after all the exciting things that happen in the book, I have to say, but satisfactory. I am not sure if I would still pick up vampire books intentionally, but I have to say that I sure enjoyed this one.

I would rate it a 4/5.

About the Author
Matt Haig was born in Sheffield, England in1975. He writes books for both adults and children, often blending the worlds of domestic reality and outright fantasy, with a quirky twist. His bestselling novels are translated into 28 languages. The Guardian has described his writing as ‘delightfully weird’ and the New York Times has called him ‘a novelist of great talent’ whose writing is ‘funny, riveting and heartbreaking’.

His novels for adults are The Last Family in England, narrated by a labrador and optioned for film by Brad Pitt; The Dead Fathers Club (2006), an update of Hamlet featuring an 11-year-old boy; The Possession of Mr Cave (2008), about a man obsessed with his daughter’s safety, and The Radleys (2010) which won Channel 4’s TV Book Club public vote and was shortlisted for a Galaxy National Book Award (UK). The film rights to all his adult novels have been sold. His next adult novel is The Humans (2013).

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