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The Radleys: A Novel

The Radleys: A Novel

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The Radleys: A Novel

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Dec 28, 2010


From the bestselling author of The Midnight Library, an “irresistible...full of clever turns, darkly hilarious spins...Even if you're suffering from vampire fatigue...The Radleys is a fun, fresh contribution to the genre” (Associated Press).

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.
Dec 28, 2010

Sobre el autor

MATT HAIG has won a Blue Peter Book Award and the Smarties Book Prize. He has been shortlisted three times for the Carnegie Medal for his stories for children and young adults. He is also a #1 national bestselling writer of books for adults and has sold more than 100,000 books in Canada. Matt Haig lives in Brighton, UK, with his wife and their two children.

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Dentro del libro

Cotizaciones principales

  • And he looks suddenly dangerous, his drunken face revealing its potential for human evil. She wonders if this is how dogs and monkeys feel in the laboratory when they suddenly realize the scientists aren’t there to be nice to them.

  • And if you live here long enough, you eventually have to make a decision. You buy a costume and pretend to like it. Or you face the truth of who you re-ally are.

  • He wants, suddenly, to scream out the truth. To tell his neighbor turned amateur Poirot that the Radleys are bloodsuckers. He checks himself just in time.

  • It felt strangely grown-up too, as though that’s what being an adult wasknowing which secrets needed keeping.And which lies will save the ones you love.

  • Why is he like this? What is he denying? What would make him strong enough to have confidence in his own voice?

Vista previa del libro

The Radleys - Matt Haig

17 Orchard Lane

It is a quiet place, especially at night.

Too quiet, you’d be entitled to think, for any kind of monster to live among its pretty, tree-shaded lanes.

Indeed, at three o’clock in the morning in the village of Bishopthorpe, it is easy to believe the lie indulged in by its residents—that it is a place for good and quiet people to live good and quiet lives.

At this hour, the only sounds to be heard are those made by nature itself. The hoot of an owl, the faraway bark of a dog, or, on a breezy night like this one, the wind’s obscure whisper through the sycamore trees. Even if you stood on the main street, right outside the pub or the Hungry Gannet delicatessen, you wouldn’t often hear any traffic or be able to see the abusive graffiti that decorates the former post office (though the word FREAK might just be legible if you strain your eyes).

Away from the main street, on somewhere like Orchard Lane, if you took a nocturnal stroll past the detached period homes lived in by solicitors and doctors and project managers, you would find all their lights off and curtains drawn, secluding them from the night. Or you would until you reached number seventeen, where you’d notice the glow from an upstairs window filtering through the curtains.

And if you stopped, sucked in that cool and consoling fresh night air, you would at first see that number seventeen is a house otherwise in tune with those around it. Maybe not quite as grand as its closest neighbor, number nineteen, with its wide driveway and elegant Regency features, but still one that holds its own.

It is a house that looks and feels precisely how a village family home should look—not too big, but big enough, with nothing out of place or jarring on the eye. A dream house in many ways, as estate agents would tell you, and certainly perfect to raise children.

But after a moment you’d notice there is something not right about it. No, maybe notice is too strong. Perhaps you wouldn’t actively realize that even nature seems to be quieter around this house, that you can’t hear any birds or anything else at all. Yet there might be an instinctive sense that would make you wonder about that glowing light and feel a coldness that doesn’t come from the night air.

If that feeling grew, it might become a fear that would make you want to leave the scene and run away, but you probably wouldn’t. You would observe the nice house and the moderately expensive car parked outside and think that this is the property of perfectly normal human beings who pose no threat to the outside world.

If you let yourself think this, you would be wrong. For 17 Orchard Lane is the home of the Radleys, and despite their very best efforts, they are anything but normal.

The Spare Bedroom

You need sleep, he tells himself, but it is no good.

The light on at three o’clock this Friday morning belongs to him, Rowan, the elder of the two Radley children. He is wide awake, despite having drunk six times the recommended dose of Night Nurse.

He is always awake at this time. If he is lucky, on a good night, he will drop off to sleep at around four to wake again at six or shortly after. Two hours of tormented, restless sleep, dreaming violent nightmares he can’t understand and arranging and rearranging his lanky frame into increasingly less sleepworthy positions. But tonight it’s not a good night, with his rash acting up and that breeze blowing against the window, and he knows he will probably be going to school on no rest whatsoever.

He puts down his book: Byron’s Collected Poems. He hears someone walking along the landing, not to the toilet but to the spare room.

There is a slight rummaging around, and a few moments of quiet before she can be heard leaving the room. Again, this isn’t entirely unusual. Often he has heard his mother get up in the middle of the night to head to the spare bedroom with some secret purpose he hasn’t ever asked her about.

Then he hears her go back to bed and the indistinct mumble of his parents’ voices through the wall.


Helen gets back into bed, her whole body tense with secrets. Her husband sighs a strange, yearning kind of sigh and nuzzles into her.

What on earth are you doing?

I’m trying to kiss you, he says.

Please, Peter, she says, a headache pressing behind her eyes. It’s the middle of the night.

As opposed to all those other times, when you would want to be kissed by your husband.

I thought you were asleep.

I was. I was dreaming. It was quite an exciting one. Nostalgic, really.

Peter, we’ll wake the children, she says, although she knows Rowan still has his light on.

Come on, I just want to kiss you. It was such a good dream.

No. You don’t. You want more. You want—

So, what are you worried about? The sheets?

I just want to go to sleep.

What were you doing?

I needed the toilet. She is so used to this lie she doesn’t think about it.

That bladder. It’s getting weaker.

Good night.

Do you remember that librarian we took home?

She can hear the smile in his question. Jesus, Peter. That was London. We don’t talk about London.

But when you think about nights like that, doesn’t it make you—

No. It was a lifetime ago. I don’t think about it at all.

A Sudden Tweak of Pain

In the morning, shortly after waking, Helen sits up and sips her water. She unscrews the jar of ibuprofen tablets and places one on her tongue, as delicately as a communion wafer.

She swallows, and right at that moment as the pill washes down her throat, her husband—only a few steps away in the bathroom—feels a sudden tweak of pain.

He has cut himself shaving.

He watches the blood glistening on his damp, oiled skin.

Beautiful. Deep red. He dabs it, studies the smear it has made on his finger and his heart quickens. The finger moves closer and closer to his mouth, but before it gets there he hears something. Rapid footsteps rushing toward the bathroom, then an attempt at opening the door.

Dad, please could you let me in . . . please, says his daughter, Clara, as she bangs hard against the thick wood.

He does as she asks, and Clara rushes in and leans over the toilet bowl.

Clara, he says, as she throws up. Clara, what’s wrong?

She leans back. Her pale face looks up at him, from above her school uniform, her eyes desperate through her glasses.

Oh God, she says, and turns back toward the bowl. She is sick again. Peter smells it and catches sight of it too. He flinches, not from the vomit but from what he knows it means.

Within a few seconds, everyone is there. Helen is crouching down next to their daughter, stroking her back and telling her everything is all right. And their son Rowan is in the doorway, with his Factor 60 sunblock still needing to be rubbed in and causing his dark bangs to stick to his skin.

What’s happening to her? he asks.

It’s fine, says Clara, not wanting an audience. Honestly, I’m okay now. I feel fine.

And the word stays in the room, hovering around and changing the air with its own sick-scented falseness.

Proper Milk

Clara does her best to keep up the routine all morning, getting herself prepared for school just like normal, despite the rotten feeling in her stomach.

You see, last Saturday Clara upped her game from vegetarian to full-time, committed vegan in an attempt to get animals to like her a bit more.

Like the ducks who wouldn’t take her bread, the cats who didn’t want to be stroked, the horses in the fields by Thirsk Road who went crazy every time she walked past. She couldn’t shake that school visit to Flamingo Land where every flamingo panicked and fled before she reached the lake. Or her short-lived goldfish, Rhett and Scarlett—the only pets she had ever been allowed. The total horror that first morning when she found them floating upside down on the water’s surface, with the color drained from their scales.

Right now, she feels her mother’s eyes on her as she pulls the soya milk out of the fridge.

You know, if you switched to proper milk you’d feel a lot better. Even skimmed.

Clara wonders what part of no more meat or dairy products her mother doesn’t understand, but she does her best to smile. I’m fine. Please, don’t worry.

They are all there now, in the kitchen—her father drinking his fresh coffee, and her brother devouring his morning smorgasbord of deli meats.

Peter, tell her. She’s making herself ill.

Peter takes a moment. His wife’s words have to swim through the wide red river of his thoughts and heave themselves out, dripping and weary, onto the narrow bank of fatherly duty.

Your mother’s right, he says. You’re making yourself ill.

Clara pours the offending milk onto her Nuts and Seeds muesli, feeling queasier by the second. She wants to ask for the radio to be turned down but knows if she does she will only make herself appear more ill.

At least Rowan is on her side, in his weary way. It’s soya, Mum, he says, with his mouth full. Not heroin.

But she needs to eat meat.

"I’m okay."

Look, says Helen, I really think you should take the day off from school. I’ll phone them for you if you want.

Clara shakes her head. She’d promised Eve she would be going to Jamie Southern’s party tonight and so she’ll need to go to school to stand a chance of being allowed out. Besides, a whole day of listening to pro-meat propaganda isn’t going to help her. Honestly, I’m feeling a lot better. I’m not going to be sick again.

Her mum and dad do their usual thing of swapping coded eye messages Clara can’t translate.

Peter shrugs. (The thing about Dad is, Rowan once commented, he couldn’t really give two shits about pretty much anything.)

Helen is as defeated as when she placed the soya milk in the cart a few nights ago, under Clara’s threat of becoming anorexic.

Okay, you can go to school, her mum says, eventually. "Just please, be careful."


You reach a certain age—sometimes it’s fifteen, sometimes it’s forty-six—and you realize the cliché you have adopted for yourself isn’t working. That is what is happening to Peter Radley right now, chewing away at a piece of buttered multigrain toast and staring at the crinkled transparent plastic that contains the remainder of the loaf.

The rational, law-abiding adult with his wife and his car and his kids and his direct debits to the Red Cross.

He had only wanted sex, last night. Just harmless, human sex. And what was sex? It was nothing. It was just a hug in motion. A bloodless piece of body friction. Okay, so he might have wanted it to lead somewhere else, but he could have contained himself. He has contained himself for seventeen years.

Well, fuck it, he thinks.

It feels good, swearing, even in his thoughts. He had read in the British Medical Journal that there was new evidence to suggest the act of swearing relieves pain.

Fuck it, he mumbles, too quiet for Helen to hear. Fuck. It.


I’m worried about Clara, Helen says, handing Peter his lunch box. She’s only been vegan a week and she’s clearly getting ill. What if it triggers something?

He has hardly heard her. He is just staring downward, contemplating the dark chaos inside his briefcase. There’s so much flaming crap in here.

Peter, I’m worried about Clara.

Peter puts two pens in the trash. "I’m worried about her. I’m very worried about her. But it’s not like I’m allowed to offer a solution, is it?"

Helen shakes her head. Not this, Peter. Not now. This is serious. I just wish we could try and be adult about this. I want to know what you think we should do.

He sighs. I think we should tell her the truth.


He takes a deep breath of the stifling kitchen air. I think it is the right time to tell the children.

Peter, we have to keep them safe. We have to keep everything safe. I want you to be realistic.

He buckles up his briefcase. Ah, realism. Not really us, is it?

The calendar catches his eye. The Degas ballerina and the dates crowded with Helen’s handwriting. The reminders for book group meetings, theater trips, badminton sessions, art classes. The never-ending supply of Things to Do. Including today: Felts—dinner here—7:30—Lorna doing appetizer.

Peter pictures his pretty neighbor sitting opposite him.

Look, I’m sorry, he says. I’m just feeling tetchy. Low iron. I just sometimes get fed up with all these lies, you know?

Helen nods. She knows.

Noting the time, Peter heads down the hallway.

The recycling needs taking out.

Recycling. Peter sighs and picks up the box full of jars and bottles. Empty vessels waiting to be born again.

I’m just worried the longer she goes without eating the stuff she should be eating, the more likely it is she’ll crave—

I know, I know. We’ll work something out. But I’ve really got to go. I’m late as it is.

He opens the door and they see the ominous blue sky, gleaming its bright warning. Are we nearly out of ibuprofen?

Yes, I think so.

I’ll get some on my way back. My head’s bloody terrible.

Yeah, mine too.

He kisses her cheek and strokes her arm with a fleeting tenderness, a microscopic reminder of how they used to be, and then he is gone.

Be proud to act like a normal human being. Keep daylight hours, get a regular job, and mix in the company of people with a fixed sense of right and wrong.

The Abstainer’s Handbook (second edition), p. 89

Fantasy World

On the map, Bishopthorpe resembles the skeleton of a fish. A backbone of a main street with thin little lanes and cul-de-sacs threading off to nowhere. A dead place, leaving its young people hungry for more.

It’s quite big, as villages go, with various shops on its main street. But in the daylight they look like what they are—an eclectic mix of niche enterprises which don’t really belong together. The very refined deli, for instance, is positioned next to Fantasy World, the novelty costume shop, which, if it wasn’t for the outfits in the window, could easily be mistaken for a sex emporium (and which does in fact have a room in the back selling novelty adult toys).

The village isn’t really self-sufficient. It has no post office anymore, and neither the pub nor the fish-and-chip shop do the business they once did. There is a drugstore, next to the clinic, and a children’s shoewear shop, which like Fantasy World mainly caters to customers traveling in from York or Thirsk. But that is it.

To Rowan and Clara it feels like a half place, dependent on buses and internet connections and other escape routes. A place that fools itself into believing it is the epitome of a quaint English village but which like most places is really just one large costume store, with more subtle outfits.

And if you live here long enough, you eventually have to make a decision. You buy a costume and pretend to like it. Or you face the truth of who you really are.

Factor 60

Out in the light, Rowan can’t help but be shocked at just how pale his sister looks.

What do you think it is? Rowan asks her, as they pass fly-clouded boxes of recycling. I mean, the sickness.

I don’t know . . . Her voice fades out, like the songs of the fearful birds sensing their proximity.

Maybe Mum’s right, he says.

She isn’t comforted. From the boy who eats red meat for every meal, that’s hardly surprising.

"Well, actually, before you go all Gandhi on me, I should tell you there’s no such thing as a true vegan. I mean, do you know how many living things exist on a single potato? Millions. A vegetable is like a microbe metropolis, so you’re wiping a whole city out every time you boil a potato. Think about it. Each bowl of soup is like a man-made apocalypse."

That is a— She has to stop talking again.

Rowan feels guilty for winding her up. His sister’s the only friend he’s got. And certainly the only one he can be himself with. Clara, you’re very, very white, he says, softly. Even by our standards.

I just wish everyone would stop going on about it, she says, and has something lined up in her head about facts she’d found out via the forums on vegan-power.net. Such as how vegans live to be eighty-nine years old and don’t get as many cancers and how some very healthy Hollywood women like Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler and the admittedly slightly sleepy but still glowing Zooey Deschanel don’t let any animal product past their lips or on their skin. But it would take too much effort to get this out, so she doesn’t bother. It’s just the weather making me feel sick, she says, as the latest wave of nausea subsides slightly.

It is May, and summer is coming early, so maybe she has a point. Rowan is suffering himself. The light is making him feel tender, like his skin is made of gauze, even under clothes and Factor 60.

Rowan notices the glistening bulb of a tear in his sister’s eye, which could be daylight exposure but could also be despair, so he decides to hold back on the antivegan stuff. Maybe it is, he says. But it’ll be okay. Honestly. And I think you’ll look good in hemp. Natalie Portman does.

Funny, she manages.

They pass the closed-down post office, and Rowan is depressed to see the graffiti still there. ROWAN RADLEY IS A FREAK. Then it’s Fantasy World, whose pirates have been replaced with mannequins dressed in skimpy Day-Glo disco wear under a banner saying Here Comes the Sun.

Comfort comes when they pass the Hungry Gannet, where Rowan glances in toward the soothing sight of the refrigerated counter glowing in the unlit room. The Serrano and Parma hams he knows will be sitting there, waiting to be eaten. But a faint scent of garlic forces him to turn away.

Are you still going to that party tonight? Rowan asks his sister, rubbing his tired eyes.

Clara shrugs. I don’t know. I think Eve wants me to. I’ll see how I feel.

Right, well, you should only go if you—

Rowan spots the boy ahead. It’s their neighbor from number nineteen Orchard Lane, Toby Felt, heading toward the same bus stop. A tennis racquet points out from his rucksack, like the arrow in a male gender sign.

He is a thin, weasel-bodied boy, who once—just over a year ago—urinated on Rowan’s leg after Rowan had stood too long at the adjacent urinal, urging himself to pee.

I’m the dog, he’d said, with cold and laughing eyes as he directed the golden stream toward Rowan. You’re the lamppost.

"Are you okay?" says Clara.

Yeah, it’s nothing.

They can see Miller’s fish-and-chip shop now, with its grubby sign (a fish eating a chip). The bus shelter is opposite. Toby is already there talking to Eve. And Eve is smiling at what he is saying, and before Rowan realizes what he is doing he is scratching at his arm and making his rash ten times worse. He hears Eve’s laugh as the yellow sun breaks free over the roofs, and the sound stings as much as the light.

Red Setter

Peter is carrying the empty jars and bottles over the gravel toward the pavement when he sees Lorna Felt walking back to number nineteen.

Lorna, hi, he says. Still on for tonight?

"Oh yes, says Lorna, as though she has just remembered. The meal. No, we haven’t forgotten. I’m doing a little Thai salad."

For Peter, Lorna Felt isn’t a real person but a collection of ideas. He always looks at the wonderful shining redness of her hair, at her well-kept skin and expensive pseudo-bohemian clothes and has the idea of life in his mind. The idea of excitement. Of temptation.

The idea of guilt. Horror.

She smiles, teasingly. An advertisement for pleasure. "Oh Nutmeg, stop it. What’s the matter with you?"

It is only at this point that he notices she is with her red setter, even though it has probably been growling at him for quite some time. He watches as the dog pulls back and tries helplessly to slip her collar.

I’ve told you before, Peter is a perfectly nice man.

A perfectly nice man.

As he observes the dog’s sharp teeth, prehistoric and savage in their outline, he feels a slight dizziness. A sort of vertigo, which might have something to do with the sun, rising in the sky, or might instead have to do with the scent brought toward him on the breeze.

Something sweeter and more subtle than the elderflower infusion of her perfume. Something his dulled senses can’t often detect anymore.

But it is there, as real as anything.

The fascinating scent of her blood.

•  •  •

Peter keeps as close as he can to the hedge, where it exists, to make the most of the limited shade available. He tries not to think too much of the day ahead, or of the quiet effort it will take to get through a Friday that is practically indistinguishable from the last thousand or so Fridays. Fridays that have held no excitement since they moved here from London, to give up their old ways and weekends of wild, bloody abandon.

He is trapped inside a cliché that’s not meant to be his. A middle-class, middle-aged man, briefcase in hand, feeling the full weight of gravity and morality and all those other oppressive human forces. Near the main street one of his elderly patients passes him on a mobility scooter. An old man whose name he should really know.

Hello, Dr. Radley, the old man says with a tentative smile. Coming to see you later.

Peter acts like he knows this information, as he steps out of the scooter’s path. Oh yes. Look forward to it.

Lies. Always bloody lies. That same old timid tea dance of human existence.


Yes, see you.

When he is almost at the clinic walking close to the hedge, a garbage collection lorry advances slowly on the road toward him. Its indicator light flashes, ready to turn left down Orchard Lane.

Peter glances casually up at the three men sitting on the front seat. Seeing that one of them, the one sitting closest to the pavement, is staring straight at him, Peter offers him a smile in the Bishopthorpe fashion. But the man, whom Peter doesn’t think he recognizes, just glares at him with hatred.

A few steps on, Peter stops. The lorry is turning down Orchard Lane, and he realizes the man is still staring at him with those eyes that seem to know who he really is. Peter shakes his head slightly, like a cat flicking away water, and walks up the narrow path toward the clinic.

Elaine is there, through the glass door, sorting out some patient files. He pushes the door forward to get another pointless Friday rolling.

Day Glimmers on the Dying and the Dead

The exhaustion comes over Rowan in narcoleptic waves, and right now one is crashing down over him. He had about two hours of sleep last night. Above his average. If only he could be as awake right now as he is at three in the morning. His eyelids are getting heavier and heavier, and he is imagining he is where his sister is, talking to Eve as easily as an ordinary person.

But there is a whisper, from the seat behind.

Morning, slo-mo.

Rowan says nothing. He won’t be able to get to sleep now. And anyway, sleep is too dangerous. He rubs his eyes and gets his Byron book out and tries to concentrate on a line. Any line. Something right in the middle of Lara.

Day glimmers on the dying and the dead.

He reads the line over and over, trying to cancel out everything else. But then the bus stops and Harper—Rowan’s second-most-feared person—gets on. Harper is actually Stuart Harper, but his first name fell off him in tenth grade, somewhere on the rugby field.

Day glimmers on the dying and the dead.

Harper heaves his gigantic body up the aisle, and Rowan hears him sit down next to Toby. At some point on the journey, Rowan feels something pat repeatedly against his head. After a few bounces he realizes it’s Toby’s tennis racquet.

Hey, slo-mo. How’s the rash?

Slo-mo, laughs Harper.

To Rowan’s relief Clara and Eve aren’t looking back yet.

Toby breathes against the back of his neck.

"Hey, freak, what you reading? Hey, Robin Redbreast . . . What you reading?"

Rowan half turns, his dark bangs flopping down into his field of vision. It’s Rowan, he says. Or half says. The It’s comes out as a whispery rasp, his throat unable to find his voice in time.

Knobweed, says Harper.

Rowan tries to concentrate on the same line.

Day glimmers on the

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Lo que piensa la gente sobre The Radleys

84 valoraciones / 53 Reseñas
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  • (5/5)
    Part murder mystery, part analysis of a marriage, part coming-of-age, all vampire... this is a smart look at being a modern-day vampire and the notion of conforming versus freedom. Haig pulls it all together (okay, I admit, I lost some interest with the high action ending) and so this novel appeals to all ages, from teenagers to the middle-aged. Highly recommended.
  • (3/5)
    A cute idea for a story of a family living in suburbia who happen to be abstaining vampires. Liked the idea of vampire clubs where you could mix with goths & emos, & share your blood or buy a bottle to take away. And famous vampires, including Byron, Jimi Hendrix, Iggy Pop... I was adding to the list: Russel Brand maybe?If there is a moral to the story, it’s probably that the lover you crave does not necessarily make a good life partner.
  • (2/5)
    "Are you going to read this?" "Why wouldn't I? - it's by Matt Haig and I loved The Humans" "But it's a vampire book" "Oh I'm sure he does something clever with the idea" - thus went the conversation in our house, I should have heeded the implied warning. This is a not terribly well written load of nonsense.
  • (2/5)
    There are way too many vampire/zombie/living dead books available right now, but The Radleys presented itself to me as a fun book about a funny and warm family of reformed vampires, including a vegan. So I bit, pun intended. And I made it to about 150 pages before I gave up.For me, this book was neither funny nor warm-hearted. I've read some conflicting information - was this first published as a YA book and now there is an adult version? Or the opposite? The writing, especially in the beginning, seemed written for a young, or at least immature, audience, but too graphic for younger teens. That got a bit better as it went on. The characters seemed more like caricatures, too much like other, better known vampire characters. I still didn't like the characters after 150 pages and, more importantly, the plot was still boring me. Vegan daughter most definitely eats something not in her diet, family rallies around her, bad vampires, good vampires. And a mom who says things like “Now, me and your dad have been talking” and “Me and Peter want you to go.” Is there a reason for such poor grammar? Not as far as I read. She is married to a doctor (who doesn't care about his patients); you'd think she would be able to string together a proper sentence.I am sure there will be an audience for this book, but for those wanting a light and entertaining read rather than wanting yet another vampire book that takes itself too seriously, don't bother.Two stars instead of one because I didn't finish it and it may be wonderful in the end. Also because it was something totally different than I was expecting, which is due to hype rather than the book itself. I was given a copy of this book from the publisher.
  • (5/5)
    Don’t let the next sentences turn you off this book, for I thought it was brilliantly original and I loved it. It is being given the full crossover novel treatment with a young adult edition, however I firmly believe that it is an adult book (pictured) that teens will enjoy rather than the other way around. It also features vampires…Matt Haig is an expert at subverting normal family life in his novels. His tragicomedy The Last Family in England, (published as ‘The Labrador pact’ in the US), told the story of a family in freefall from the PoV of the family dog – who sees everything and understands more (and less) than you’d expect, and is in turns very funny and terribly sad.In The Radleys he takes another very different look at family life. Peter, a rather world-weary doctor, and his frustrated artist wife Helen, live in a Yorkshire town with their teenaged children, Clara and Rowan. To all outward purposes they are a totally normal dysfunctional family, but Peter and Helen have a big secret – they’re vampires, and what’s more, their children don’t know! However the Radleys are ‘abstainers’ – non-practising vampires; since their children were born, they’ve been models of restraint, relying on a diet full of red meat, but now they’re up against teenagers with hormones, and Clara is trying to become a Vegan…‘I’m worried about Clara,’ Helen says, handing Peter his lunchbox. ‘She’s only been vegan a week and she’s clearly getting ill. What if it triggers something?’He has hardly heard her. He is just staring downwards, contemplating the dark chaos inside his briefcase. ‘There’s so much flaming crap in here.’‘Peter, I’m worried about Clara.’Peter puts two pens in the bin. ‘I’m worried about her. I’m very worried about her. But it’s not like I’m allowed to offer a solution, is it?’Helen shakes her head. ‘Not this, Peter. Not now. This is serious. I just wish we could try and be adult about this. I want to know what you think we should do.’He sighs. ‘I think we should tell her the truth.’‘What?’He takes a deep breath of the stifling kitchen air. ‘I think it is the right time to tell the children.’However before they get round to it, something happens that will rock this family to the bottom of its foundations and everything changes.While there is plenty of dark comedy in this novel, there is also blood – gallons of it. At the heart of the story however is the family, with the parents in the grip of mid-life crises and the children coming of age, tricky at the best of times, and not helped by the arrival of Will, Peter’s vampire brother. Also running throughout the book are extracts from the non-practising vampire self-help manual ‘The Abstainer’s Handbook’, which is like a twelve-step programme for bloodsuckers. Blood is the drug, and this makes the vampire hunters the equivalent of the drug squad and junkies’ families.This book is a brilliant take on all the pressures upon modern suburban families. It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s wildly original; it was also easy to read and I loved it. If you’ve been suffering from vampire fatigue, this could be the antidote, and you’ll always wonder what your neighbours are up to! (9/10) I requested this book from the publisher – thank you to Canongate.
  • (4/5)
    Dieser Einzelroman beginnt auf zunächst humorvolle Weise und man ist geneigt zu denken, dass man eine Komödie vor sich hat. Das Bild wandelt sich jedoch schnell und es wird zunehmend ernster. The Radleys (Die Radleys: Ein Vampirroman) ist auch keine glitzernde Vampir-Klischee-Romanze, wie sie derzeit zuhauf in den Regalen zu finden sind. Matt Haig setzt statt dessen auf eine zerrüttete Ehe, die nach beinahe zwanzig Jahren kurz vor dem Scheitern steht, als Tochter Claire eines nachts in Notwehr zubeißt und einen aufdringlichen Mitschüler instinktiv zu Tode saugt. Da nun auch noch der Blut schlürfende Vampironkel Will auf den Plan tritt und immer mehr schmutzige, blutige Geheimnisse ans Tageslicht kommen, prallen Kleinstadt-Drama und dekadentes Vampirvolk aufeinander und sorgen für ordentlich Unruhe im streng organisierten, bisher blutlosen Leben der Radleys. Dieses Buch ist ein kleiner Stadtkrimi, der interessant und durchaus spannend zu lesen ist. Man ist fast schon bereit die Vampire zu bemitleiden, in einer Zeit, in der es so entsetzlich viele Möglichkeiten der Spurensicherung gibt.Die Charaktere wirken sehr überzeugend und glaubhaft und es fällt leicht, sich in sie hinein zu versetzen. Ihre Probleme und die Art wie sie versuchen damit umzugehen, sind allzu menschlich. Die relativ simple Handlung kommt ohne Umschweife daher, was die tragischen und teils deprimierenden Zustände dieser Familie noch deutlicher auf den Punkt bringt. Vor allem am Beispiel von Vater Peter wird sehr schnell klar, dass The Radleys mehr eine Geschichte über selbst auferlegte Zwänge und Regeln ist, die dazu dienen, Teil der gewöhnlichen Gesellschaft zu werden, als über hungrige Bestien, die nach dem Blut eines Menschen dürsten. Noch ein wenig realistischer wird das Ganze durch die immer wieder eingefügten “Zitate” aus dem Handbuch des abstinenten Vampirs, nach dessen Anleitung das Ehepaar Radley ihr unblutiges Leben und das ihrer ahnungslosen Kinder errichtet hat.Wie wenig lebenswert dieses erstrebte Ziel jedoch ist, wird den Protagonisten nach und nach klarer, als die Kinder ihr wahres Ich zu entdecken beginnen und die Lebensweise der Eltern in Frage stellen. Pubertät für Vampire – letzten Endes sind die Radleys tatsächlich eine ganz normale Familie, nur dass sie eben auch zufällig noch Vampire sind und etwas andere Essgewohnheiten bevorzugen.Leider kommt das Ende von The Radleys ein wenig zu perfekt daher und mit einer Lösung, bei der man sich als Leser schon früh im Buch fragt, warum das als Option gar nicht erst zur Debatte steht. Dennoch lohnt sich die Lektüre als leichte Kost zwischendurch und bietet ein wenig positive Abwechslung im schmachtenden Vampirregal.
  • (3/5)
    This one caught my eye because of the immediate connection I made - erroneously - to the Radley family of Harper Lee's Maycomb, Alabama. (I have no idea if Haig meant for it to reference that. I am a lazy reader and find too much research makes me feel like I'm back in Norman McMillan's graduate level lit courses.)

    If you care whether he meant it or not, I encourage you to Google your heart out.

    I digress.

    What starts out as a darkly comic social commentary slows when Haig switches gears from the tongue-in-cheek to the fang-in-neck. It would be more than fair, however, to say that he had my rapt attention once I let go of wanting the tone of the whole book to match the bang-up funny beginning.

    The Radleys and their two teenagers are abstaining vampires, although the kids don't know that until a pivotal event forces their genetics into the spotlight. Clara and Rowen only know that they are picked on a whole lot for their looks and their lethargy. Their parents -- Peter and Helen -- have adhered to every principle of The Abstainer's Handbook (the excerpts from which provide much of the humor herein) in raising their children and in living a "normal" life.

    For instance, they replaced their vampire fueled collection of music (you knew Jim Morrison was one, right?) with "... Phil Collins, Sting, and Vivaldi's Four Seasons, of which they played 'Spring' every time anyone came to dinner."

    Three stars always looks like a pan -- but it honestly is not. 3 stars means (in the land of Goodreads) that I liked a book, and I liked this one. I did.

  • (4/5)
    I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed this book! The Radleys are not your typical family. This book is the story of their lives and their struggle to live 'normally' whilst suppressing who and what they truly are. It is a great read! I would definitely recommend 'The Radleys' to anyone who enjoys a good paranormal/suspense fiction read.
  • (4/5)
    Die Radleys sind Vampire, doch sie leben abstinent. Trotzdem fühlen sich die Kinder, die nicht wissen, dass sie Vampire sind, wie Freaks in der normalen Welt. Eines Nachts wird die Tochter Clara bedroht und wehrt sich - nun ist etwas losgetreten, was die Eltern niemals wollten.Das Buch ist anfangs etwas fad, wird aber dann doch noch recht spannend. Ich hatte irgendwie gedacht, dass es lustig ist, aber das ist es gar nicht.
  • (3/5)
    Clara and Rowan live with sub-standard metabolisms, they have a constant rash, can't eat garlic, must wear sunscreen all the time while their parents have a very boring hum-drum life in an English town. What they don't know is that they're actually vampires. Well they don't know until Clara is attacked and kills a boy. Then things get complicated and everyone in the family has to face up to the reality of who they are and what makes them different.It's an interesting idea but I wasn't impressed, it wasn't bad, it just has an interesting idea and ran with it but didn't develop the characters in any great detail. A light read that kept me reading but didn't make me want to read more by that author or make me want more of the story.
  • (4/5)
    An interesting look at a family of abstaining vampires. Parents who feel stuck in their individual midlife crises; teenage children who deal with the pressures of growing up; a family living with secrets.Both kids get made fun of at school. They know they are different, but do not know why. They deal with the bullies and the confusion as many siblings do - they rely on each other. When events escalate, they need to rely on their parents as well. Every family member must come to terms with the need for secrecy and lies.
  • (4/5)
    The Radleys try so hard to be such an ordinary family. Everything they do is calculated not to stand out from what is expected of a nice middle-class family living in a country village in the North of England: people carrier; clothes from Boden and M&S; never any opinions which make them stand out from the crowd. But why do all the Radleys need to cover themselves in Factor 60 sun cream before venturing out even in the depths of a British winter; why do no birds sing in their garden; why does their son Rowan find himself wide awake every night; and above all why are Peter and Helen Radley so concerned when their teenage daughter Clara decides to become a vegan. All becomes clear when a boy from her school tries to assault Clara when she is walking home alone after a party, and she is found by her parents covered in blood next to the body of the boy who she has killed. The truth, which the Radleys have concealed from their children all their lives, is that the family are vampires. Not practising vampires, abstainers (their bible is 'The Abstainer's Handbook'): a lifestyle choice which condemns them to a normal human lifespan, constant headaches and skin rashes from even minimal sun exposure. With a body to dispose of, and the effects of the blood on their daughter Clara to worry about, their carefully built up respectability threatens to come crashing down about their ears. Especially when in their initial panic they contact Peter's brother Will for assistance, someone who even in vampire circles is considered irresponsible.
  • (4/5)
    The Radleys could be your average family: mother, father, brother, and sister. They have some unusual problems, but nothing they think they aren't handling just fine. Except for just one not-so-minor thing -- the Radleys are vampires. With the current literary focus on vampire stories, I wasn't sure I would like this one. I'm no fan of the Twilight series or books similar to those. In fact, my book snobbery comes out in discussions about the current trend in vamp-lit because what I've read of it could have been written with crayons by a third grader. Fortunately Matt Haig is no third grader. He has written a story I found convincing about a family who happen to be vampires but have to deal with situations lots of living people have. I mean, what other literary vampire has to put up with bullying on a pretty intense scale? I'd recommend The Radleys to anyone who likes stories that are a little offbeat but still have heart.
  • (3/5)
    The Radleys are a boring, suburban family. Peter's a doctor, Helen a housewife, and the two teenage kids have the usual troubles. Rowan is bullied at school for his weak nature and Clara is struggling with her decision to be vegan. The Radleys' boring life takes a drastic turn when Clara's response to an attacker reveals her true nature - she's a vampire. And she's not the only one. Peter and Helen have hidden the truth from their children in the hopes of offering them a normal life. In a panic, Peter calls on his brother, a vampire who makes no apologies for his lifestyle. Nothing will ever be the same for the Radleys. A satirical view of suburbia and an interesting approach to vampirism. Contains graphic descriptions, humor, and a light exploration of what it means to be true to one's self.
  • (4/5)
    THE RADLEYS, by Matt Haig, paves its own road in the vampire genre. The Radley's are a family of vampires who choose to abstain from human blood in an attempt to fit in better with humans. But when the Radley children discover their supernatural lineage, this family questions their role in society.I really enjoyed this book. I loved each and every character. The structure of the book was unique in that many POVs were explored to get a wider scope on this character-driven plot. When Clara Radley kills unexpectedly, she creates a ripple effect all around her. This brings in the police (where in this universe Radley created, knows about vampires but kept very hush hush), friends of the victim, and a banished Radley family member who shares a dark past with Helen Radley.The family dynamic in this book was not unlike a human family having issues, but the supernatural aspect added to the tension. Peter and Helen's marriage had been failing for a long time and the strain of abstaining added to the strain. Clara and Rowan were unpopular in school and being enlightened to their genetics did not help one bit. And for as much as I felt I was supposed to hate Will, he was my favorite character. He reminded me of the 'cool uncle' type and I anticipated when his cockiness would get him into serious trouble. I liked Haig's 'take' on vampires. The lore surrounding how they are changed and how they react to blood was interesting and unique. Another thing I appreciated was the setting and feel of the UK. The sarcasm and tone that is prevalent in UK novels was definitely present and added to my love for this book. Overall, it was a great story and definitely should be on a TBR list of anyone who is a fan of vampires and wants a new perspective.
  • (5/5)
    Peter and Helen Radley are abstainers – vampires who don’t consume blood. They live by The Abstainers Handbook and haven’t even told their two teenage children that they are vampires. One night their daughter Clara accidentally gives in to her natural instincts (that she didn’t even know she had) and Peter and Helen are forced to explain the truth to her and her brother Rowan. Peter calls on his brother Will, a practicing vampire, to help them out with the police investigation that follows. Having Will around turns their life into chaos and they have to decide which lies are worth keeping and which truths are worth telling.The Radleys has vampires in it but it’s not really a “vampire book”. And it’s definitely nothing like the smutty vampire books I usually read! This is a “thinking person’s” vampire book. It’s more about family relationships – the Radleys are dysfunctional in very human ways. Rowan, shy and unsure of himself, is bullied by the kids at school and has a crush on his sister’s best friend. Peter and Helen have hit a rough patch in their marriage and Peter may be going through a mid-life crisis of sorts. Will finds himself growing restless and killing more indiscriminately lately, causing the larger vampire community to grow impatient with him. Okay, that last one may be more of a vampire-only problem!The Radleys were all flawed but likable and surprisingly relatable considering they were vampires. I think most everyone has felt like they don’t fit in at some time in their lives like the Radleys. Also, most everyone has probably tried to overcome something in their lives the way the Radleys are trying to overcome the compulsion to drink blood, whether it’s overeating, smoking or something else. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to everyone, not just vampire fans.
  • (4/5)
    OK. I'll admit it. I'm a vampire nut!This story is unique in the way it portrays vampires and vampirism. Especially 'The Abstainers Handbook' a guide to help vampires deny their blood craving instincts and to try and pass among the general populace unnoticed. The Unnamed Predator Unit, a secretive branch of the police force tries to keep rogue vampire incidents from general public by aligning itself with a group of powerful vampires who help provide information and discipline among other vampires. Now meet the Radleys. Dad's a doctor, Mom's a homemaker with a talent for painting, dark and moody teenage brother Rowan and Clara a vegan who is just starting to become socially active. Vampires all, but Dad and Mom practice abstinence and have never discussed their vampire lineage with the kids. At a party Clara has to fight off the advances of an over amorous bully who corners her alone. A shockingly violent episode leaves quite a mess. What happened? How to explain what happened to the bully's family, friends and even the police!A call home brings her parents to try and control the situation but there are so many loose ends... An argument ensues over calling Uncle Will, a practicing vampire of some ill repute, who arrives to help, but also with family secrets and intentions to end the families abstinence and teach the kids their true natures.Equal parts vampire story and story of family dynamics the book moves back and forth between the two spheres never quite deciding which it will ultimately follow. I never really became immersed in the book to the degree I wanted. The characters never really conveyed the urgency that the story required to sustain my interest. There is little sex or excessive violence to worry about. I ultimately added it to my list of books for young adults.
  • (5/5)
    ♥♥~♥ ♥~♥♥~♥ "The Radleys" is a fun quick read!!The characters are well written and the story is captivating. I LOVE THE RADLEYS!!! Although this book is about vampires its not your usual vampire story its very new and refreshing!!!I absolutely loved this book!!!I'm keeping my fingers crossed for sequel!!!I didn't want to put it down!!!I want more :) Please!!!I highly recommend!!!♥♥~♥ ♥~♥♥~♥
  • (4/5)
    I won this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.The Radleys are a normal, boring upper middle class British family, with one tiny difference: they are vampires. When Helen and Peter Radley get married and find out Helen is pregnant, they decide that they are going to leave their wild and crazy blood-filled life behind and follow the rules from The Abstainer's Handbook: integrate, integrate, integrate! If you get the urge to drink blood, work out! Or do the dishes, or some other mundane chore. Their children, Clara and Rowan, have no idea that they are vampires, they just think they are always tired and have chronic headaches (and in Rowan's case a terrible skin condition) because they have a vitamin deficiency. That is, until Clara is being physically attacked by a bully from her school, and she fights back by chomping into him! Their parents are forced to tell them the truth and call Will, Peter's very active blood-drinking vampire brother, to help them out. That's when their carefully constructed plans all come apart at the seams. From Goodreads: "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."I wasn't sure what to expect from the book because it is listed, per the author, as a "domestic drama." And in essence, that's what it is. The fact that they are vampires is almost secondary to the fact that they are doing everything in their power to be good, constructive members of society. Peter is a doctor, and Helen belongs to the weekly book club. But vampires they are, and no matter how much they try to hide it, it doesn't change the facts. I thought Matt Haig did an excellent job blending these two things. This isn't your average vampire book by any means, but in this case, it definitely works. As you watch their carefully constructed world fall apart piece by piece, you are drawn into the story. There is a nice little back story going on about how Helen was converted into vampirism, and this too works nicely to flesh out the story. The characters definitely grow and change throughout the story, and I was very happy with the ending! In summary, this is a very good book, and I definitely recommend it for vampire book lovers who are looking for something a little bit different to sink their teeth into :D
  • (3/5)
    This was a pretty good book and a quick read. An interesting and different take on the whole vampire craze.
  • (3/5)
    "I can control myself. Look, for God's sake. Look at everyone. Everyone represses everything. Do you think any of these "normal" human beings really do exactly what they want to do all the time? 'Course not. It's just the same. We're middle-class and we're British. Repression is in our veins." I... don't actually remember a lot about this book. Which probably says it all, to be honest, because normally I'm pretty good as far as bookish memory goes. I started reading it on holiday, finished it back home, and was decidedly disappointed by the whole shebang. Haig seems to be excellent at coming up with quirky book ideas, but sadly this one just doesn't live up to expectations. It's about a family - the titular Radleys - living in Bishopthorpe, the very picture of middle-class suburban life. Father Peter is a doctor, mother Helen hosts dinner parties for the neighbours, siblings Rowan and Clara muddle along at school... life is very, very normal. Except it's not. Because what Rowan and Clara DON'T know is that they're vampires. Abstainers, in fact. They've never thought anything of their taste for meat, getting headaches all the time and having to slather on Factor 50 suncream every day. Then one night, at a party, Clara goes into a kind of blood frenzy and kills a boy. It's time for Helen and Peter to tell them the truth - and, horror of horrors - call in Peter's bloodthirsty non-abstaining brother Will to help with the fallout... Sounds great, doesn't it? And for a while, it was. Probably up until the moment Will helped throw the police off the scent regarding the dead boy. From that point onwards, I wanted the focus to be on the teenagers coping with their new identity and learning about vampire lore. I wanted Peter and Helen to readjust to their children's new-found knowledge, and for the tension between them and Will regarding their blood drinking habits (or lack of) to feed into the way they settled back into family life. Instead, what happened was that the kids seemed to just accept their vampdom and be very enthusiastic about the whole thing, Will's extracurricular activities became a focus, then the whole novel went to hell in a handbasket with a confusing love triangle, a sudden complete 180-degree turnaround for one of the characters, a bit of rather cliched romance, some rather confused mid-air fighting (no, really) and a truly horrible climax. There WERE some really clever elements to Haig's vampiric world. The Sheridan Society, for example, are a group of elite vampires... points for the literary in-joke, right there. Famous vampires have included everyone from Jimi Hendrix (naturally) to Byron (who faked his death and is now DJing in Ibiza with Thomas De Quincey as 'Don Juan and DJ Opium'). The text is littered with quotes from The Abstainer's Handbook, and there is a handy Abstainer's Glossary at the back of the book. The strangeness of life as a vampire is beautifully evoked at times, like this revelation about the way nature falls silent around them, which I found strangely moving: "Rowan nods, knowing he could never tell her he has only ever heard birdsong online, or that he and Clara once spent a good hour watching video footage of chirping sedge warblers and chaffinches, nearly in tears."But... I'm sorry, but the jumble that is the rest of the novel really ruined the whole experience for me. I wanted so much to love it, but it turned out to be what the delightful descriptive word 'meh' was made for. I kept reading, don't get me wrong - the chapters are short and easy to plough through - but I was hugely disappointed. I think the problem is that Haig just doesn't seem to know what he wants the book to BE. Is it a comedic novel, as the hype implies? Is it a horror story? Is it a family drama? Or a romance? Some novels could fit all of these things in and it would work fine, but in this case it just distorts the plot and characters, so that every time I thought I'd got a handle on it, it would pull away in another direction. Bottom line? I just didn't gel with this one. It was confusing and forgettable and generally not what the ringing endorsements on the cover suggested it would be, and I had hoped for so much more. I have humungously high hopes for The Humans, however, so... fingers crossed the next review'll be a rave.
  • (3/5)
    A British vampire novel about vampires trying to raise their kids without letting on that they're vampires? Yes please

    This was a fresh new take on the genre, I thought.

    I was initially drawn to the book by the title, thinking it might be some sort of weird 'To Kill a Mockingbird' spin-off concerning Boo Radley and his family - who knows, maybe the title is an allusion to the weirdness of the Radley's in that novel.

    Overall a fun read - it's nothing that's going to change your life, but it's worth the time if you're into this sort of thing. (I am.)
  • (4/5)
    The Radleys is unlike any vampire book I have ever read. It is a family saga and could be written about many English families, if those families happen to be vampires. It is the relationships within the family that truly matter - between husband and wife, parent and child, between two brothers. It is the discovery of a family secret that changes lives and redirects many paths. The Radleys is nothing like Twilight or True Blood or urban fantasy novels featuring vampires. There is much less action and more introspection. There are moral questions and a strong attempt to blend in to the unblood English society.Told in short chapters with shifting focus, The Radleys is a dark examination of life in English suburbia when keeping the family secret is held more closely than anything else. If you are a fan of all things English and vampires, I highly recommend The Radleys. I found it a delightfully dark change of pace from the other types of vampires stories that seem to be taking over books and movies these days.
  • (3/5)
    When you read a mystery thriller book, you expect to be kept on the edge of your seat and to want to keep turning the pages long into the night. When I went into reading this book, that is not what happened for me. I read the description on the book and was excited about a new mystery book available to review, filled with family secrets. However, upon opening the book and reading through it, I was quite disappointed to see that it was a vampire-like story. Definitely not what I usually read. Oh, don't get me wrong. I will, from time to time, read a book outside my favorite genres because every author deserves a chance. And, so, I delved into this book with hopes that it wouldn't be "just another vampire story" that I so don't like to read. To my surprise, while definitely NOT my absolutely all time favorite book, it was an alright book. I wouldn't keep it on my bookshelf though. I found that the plot, was indeed, well written and interesting. The characters really fit the roles that they played in this story. The complexity of the vampire-likeness of the novel, was so much more than in past vampire-y novels that I have read. The author truly has a talent for writing this style of book. Would I recommend this book to everyone? No. Would I recommend this book to those who love vampire novels and fantasies? Most definitely. Would I read it again? No, simply because this is not my usual taste in books. Does it deserve a fair rating? Of course. The author deserves high kudos for talent and the book deserves 3 stars for being well written.
  • (5/5)
    The RadleysByMatt HaigWhere in the world do I start with this one? And before I start…this was not a YA book nor was it an intentionally humorous book but it was full of lots of sort of tongue in cheek humor. It was sort of a serious book about the vampires who live among us…or rather in the case of The Radley’s…they live in Bishopthorpe which is in England. Peter and Helen Radley appear to be quite normal…Peter is the village doctor and Helen belongs to a book club and keeps her house lovely and full of food (MEAT) and raises her son Rowan and her daughter Clara. And Helen paints apple trees with apples…over and over and over again.Rowan doesn’t get why he has to wear a 60 sun block and Clara doesn’t get why being a vegetarian is so appalling to her parents…until…hmm…I will get to that in a moment. The Radley’s…Peter and Helen are abstainers. They follow an Abstainers Handbook and have not tasted blood for years…but they do eat a lot of meat…deli meat.Clara is at a party with her friend Eve…she and Rowan are in high school and Clara is sort of nondescript…in other words…she is not a hottie. While at the party…Clara is sort of attacked by a classmate and …let’s just say that Clara will not be a vegetarian anymore.Thus begins the unraveling of The Radley’s and it is fascinating to watch. Clara and Rowan are both shocked to realize what their parents have been hiding from them for all of their lives…Then…due to Clara’s mishap with that classmate Uncle Will is called to town to help them solve their dilemma. He can “bloodmind” people into doing his will and this is what Helen needs him to do to the police to get Clara out of trouble. Uncle Will is an old fashioned sort of vampire with tons of bottles of blood in his camper and a penchant for neck biting both vampires and unbloods. (non vampires )Clara and Rowan sip some blood and become healthier and more beautiful and stronger. Clara is afraid that Rowan will not be able to stop himself from becoming the kind of vampire that Uncle Will is…this discussion occurs as they are walking to school and Rowan is contemplating asking out Eve, a classmate. He has a bottle of vampire blood in his backpack togive him courage. I love his response to his sister… which is…We are middleclass and we live in England…repression runs in our veins.However…it sort of doesn’t. There is actually a very cool surprise ending in this very clever book.I can’t compare it to anything. It is fresh and new and funny…not out loud funny sort of satirically funny. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • (4/5)
    The Radleys--father Peter, mother Helen, teenage son Rowan and daughter Clara--are an ordinary suburban family. They live a quiet life on a quiet street in a quiet town called Bishopthorpe. The family car is a nondescript SUV--not too flashy, not too dull. Peter's a doctor, Helen a housewife. Their house is decorated with muted colors, the artwork on their walls consists of soothing watercolors of pastoral scenes, and they have just the right books--that is to say, the books that their neighbors read--on the bookshelves.But all is not perfectly dull in the Radley household. Peter and Helen worry about Carla. She's recently become a vegetarian and, in addition to having her complexion transition from pale to stark white, has begun vomiting fairly regularly throughout the day. She became a vegetarian to try to convince animals to like her; for some reason, the neighborhood dogs bark and snarl when she comes near, and it distresses her terribly. And Rowan, reader of Byron and writer of bad poetry, worries his parents, too. He has no friends, never sleeps, and suffers from photodermatitis.You see, the Radleys, like many apparently normal suburban families, have a secret, one which Peter and Helen have kept even from their children. They are vampires. Nonpracticing vampires--abstainers, in the lingo--but vampires nonetheless. The Radleys' marriage is a mixed one; Peter is an hereditary vampire, Helen converted. The paleness, the photosensitivity, the sleeplessness: all symptoms of their abstinence.Recently, Peter has begun to chafe at all the rules. The children are growing up and he feels they should know what they are. Helen disagrees. Peter begins to think longingly of the pulsing vein in his attractive neighbor's neck.But then a real crisis comes. In a desperate attempt to seem normal and fit in with the other kids Clara has gone to a party. As she is walking home from the party a brutish boy accosts her and tries to have his way with her. In her struggle with him she bites his hand...she tastes his blood...and the jig is up.In their attempt to erase the completely understandable murder their daughter has committed the Radleys call Will, Peter's older brother and active practicer (according to The Abstainer's Handbook, an excerpt from which precedes each chapter, a practicer is a "practicing vampire; a blood addict who is unable and/or unwilling to give up his immoral habit"), to help them. Unfortunately, Will is a creature without a conscience, who lives for the kill and harbors an eternal desire for his brother's wife.Matt Haig's book The Dead Fathers Club, a retelling of Hamlet with a possibly mentally ill eleven year old boy cast in the lead role, was a tour de force. It was a disturbing story, told in an impressive in and spot-on child's voice, complete with misheard words and phrases and odd punctuation and capitalization. In this book Haig also captures a voice, although it's a more subtle, even mundane voice. He does an excellent job; this may be the least exciting vampire novel ever written, but this is not to say it's a boring book. He understands his characters, he understands the middle class to which they painfully aspire, and when all hell breaks loose toward the end of the book it's a glorious, beautifully written and very bloody mess. These are not the glittery vampires that mesmerized Bella in the Twilight books. They're not Anne Rice's romantic vampires. They're your next door neighbor. Your doctor. The mom who helps out by picking your kids up from soccer practice every other Saturday.Didn't you always think there was something up with those people?
  • (4/5)
    Vampire novels and I have had an on-again, off-again relationship here lately. I mean, I love vampire novels, but not a lot of them are living up to what I would consider a good vampire novel. Thankfully, that's not the case with The Radleys.I think the thing that caught me off-guard was that the Radleys did seem like a typical British family at first. Clara and Rowan definitely are under assumption that they are, until Clara tries to take a bite of her classmate. I loved both of the children, though I think my heart ached for Rowan more, who is constantly bullied and has an undeniable crush on his sister's best friend. For me though, I think my absolute favorite characters have to be the parents, Peter and Helen. They go through some turmoil in the book but try to cover it up for the children - as any parents would do - but it soon takes its own toll. And Will? He comes in to help, but things just seem to go from bad to worse.This novel is described as a 'domestic drama' and has been compared to American Beauty. While I agree to both accounts, I think that this novel stands out entirely on its own in a unique way (the vampire tidbit being a big part) and even though it is a dark tale, it has it's own tongue-in-cheek moments that will relieve some of the tension of the novel. There is also talk that it's being re-marketed as a Young Adult book which it can pass for, but it's a more mature YA book.The Radleys is a well-written, wonderfully original story that almost everyone in the family can enjoy for one aspect or another. This novel had me from the start and didn't let go until the very end. Although it wraps up nicely at the end, I would love to see a sequel now that the secret is out for all of the Radleys.
  • (4/5)
    A [fill in the genre] with vampires (or zombies or fallen angels or werewolves or all of the above) has become a norm in current literature. I keep trying to decide what that says about the times, but the best I can come up with is that we're just as obsessed with death and sex as the Victorians (and just as twisted about them, too). The Radleys is a suburban domestic drama with vampires. Think David Lynch's Blue Velvet meets John Updike with a little excursion through Shirley Jackson.Like all angst-ridden novels of suburbia the Radleys are bored with their choices, hiding themselves and their impulses, cheating their children of their real lives. Their marriage is stale, their lives are stale, their neighbors are stale - it's all just a little too bloodless.It is to Matt Haig's great credit that he has a wonderful sense of humor. He understands his setting and its cliches, but by populating it with vampires he both satirizes and cannibalizes it for everything its worth. Terse, thoughtful, witty, and dark - all told a fun read.
  • (5/5)
    Goodreads Description:Meet the Radleys Peter, Helen and their teenage children, Clara and Rowan, live in an English town. They are an everyday family, averagely dysfunctional, averagely content. But as their children have yet to find out, the Radleys have a devastating secret From one of Britain’s finest young novelists comes a razor-sharp unpicking of adulthood and family life. In this moving, thrilling and extraordinary portrait of one unusual family, The Radleys asks what we grow into when we grow up, and explores what we gain – and lose – when we deny our appetites.I'm never really sure what I'm going to find when I open a Matt Haig book, but one thing is for sure, I've never been disappointed. I truly enjoyed this book. It is so not your typical vampire book. The Radleys are a modern soap opera typical, slightly dysfunctional family, with one unique quality - they're vampires. Haig has created a witty, engaging story that keeps the reader engrossed from the first page. In a time when everyone is writing vampire stories, Haig has managed to join the game but with a unique twist. The familiar family dynamics between Helen and Peter Radley, and between the parents and the children, Clare and Rowan keep it from too vampy. It's a very good read and I, for one, would love to read more about the Radleys.One of the reviews I read on Amazon suggested that there are two versions of this book: one written for adults and one for teens. I couldn't find any word elsewhere of there being two different versions, but I did find talk about a movie based on the book. Hmm! I'm always skeptical of movies based on books, but I'm sure I'd add this one to my must see list.
  • (4/5)
    I liked it. The vampires in this story are essentially a different brand of human. They aren't undead, but do have an aversion to sunlight. They eat regular food, but without a regular intake of blood, they get sick - a bit like humans who don't eat enough protein. Where this book takes a different take on vampires- is that vampires can survive on vampire blood. Its a nice touch, allowing vampires to live without killing any humans.But, this story isn't really about vampires. If you take the vampires out of the picture, you get a story about a family with an interesting history, trying to live a normal life, a long lost (and unwanted) brother showing up, children who have been lied to (in order to protect, but still), but most of all, a story about repressing who you are and then finding yourself.I'm not sure about the ending - it seemed to story book, but other than that and too convenient.