THE RADLEYS: A NOVEL By Matt Haig [Review]

The Radleys

I am not a fan of the current crop of vampire novels. Let’s be clear on that. In fact, I think my love of the undead in print ceased a long time ago. Angsting teens and their even more angsting vampire counterparts wear on my somewhat jaded nerves until I am waiting for a killing spree or… or something. I had given up all hope of ever finding joy in the undead, mourned the loss of those who walk the night until Matt Haig’s witty THE RADLEYS: A NOVEL hit the shelves and my faith in the undead was born again.

Meet Peter, Helen, Clara and Rowen Radley, your average family living in happy domestic bliss in the village of Bishopthorpe. Peter and Helen are happily married with their two lovely teens. Clara is a vegan and their son is a typical teen, albeit plagued by nightmares. Yeah, well, his parent’s might not have mentioned something and that something proves to be a problem. The Radleys are vampires. They belong to a group known as abstainers, who do not indulge in the drinking of human blood. That is going to backfire in a big way one night when vegan Clara gets a little taste of bloodlust and kind of eats someone. Uncle Will, a non-abstaining vampire enters the picture to help with their little problems and the domestic bliss gets a little dark around the edges.

This is a splendid book. Haig has poked around and managed to add a fresh twist to the almost un-twistable vampire mythology. There is a bit of gore to keep the whole “this is a vampire book” idea going, but that is not what makes this such a fabulous read. It is the fact that the Radleys really could be your neighbors. They are genuine people. Okay, they have some dysfunction in their little family unit, but who doesn’t, really?

Haig’s prose is witty, delightful and just a joy to read. It’s one of those books that just makes my heart sing with the words. I was smiling four pages in with just the prose. I loved the characters, the setting and the way he wrote. That doesn’t happen very often. Usually it seems you get one or two but not all three. Haig delivers in The Radleys.

If you are a hardcore vampire reader, this might not be the book for you. It is a little…hmm…bright? And it does occasionally poke fun at itself. The “Abstainer’s Manual” has excerpts throughout like a strange self-help book, but for me, that just added to the delight.

The Radleys: A Novel is just a wonderful book, take some time and head over to Bishopthorpe and visit them in their strange world of vampiric domestic bliss.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: Free Press | Pages: 384 | Source: Publisher | Buy on Amazon

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  • http://twitter.com/thebibliofreak Matthew

    You obviously really enjoyed The Radleys! I have to admit I was not quite as positive (http://tinyurl.com/3veqxet). I look forward to the movie coming out, sounds like they have some good people working on that already.