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Review: The Radleys, Matt Haig

The Radleys live on a perfectly normal street in the perfectly normal town of Bishopthorpe in Yorkshire.  In fact, they do everything in order to be normal; they go to school, they go to book clubs, they even sometimes attend church.  But the secret is that the Radleys aren’t normal, but it’s such a secret that their children don’t even know.  They won’t be without that knowledge soon, though, and when they find out what they really are, they’ll struggle to keep it a secret for long.

The Radleys has been moderately hyped over here in the UK, so I was a little concerned as to how I was going to react to it when I finally got to read it for myself.  Luckily I really enjoyed it, and I found it both an interesting fantasy novel and a critique of modern middle-class British life.  The Radleys are vampires from a famous vampire family, but they choose to be abstainers.  Peter, the father, has been a vampire his whole life, whereas his wife Helen was only converted after she fell in love with him.  The two children, Clara and Rowan, start the novel with no idea that they’re vampires.  They don’t know why they’re excessively pale and always wear sunscreen, are always tired during the day, or suffer from migraines on a regular basis.  Then, Clara is attacked, and everything changes.

I liked that this book was an urban fantasy which is completely different from the rest – the world is the same except for vampires, but the story doesn’t center on a pretty girl.  Instead, we have this middle class family who really struggle to have normal lives, except for a wayward relative who comes along to mess everything up every now and again.  The beginning almost reminded me of Harry Potter, with the family trying desperately to be normal and even the children trying to pretend that they’re not something out of the ordinary.  Of course, the stories are nowhere near the same in terms of plot, but that’s the closest comparison I could think of.

I not only appreciated the story for itself, but I thought it was a very British, very humorous take on middle class life over here.  By being so very typical, the Radleys made me wonder what other “typical” middle class families might be hiding, and why we really need to put up that front of normalcy when we might all be just a little bit weird (though we’re clearly not vampires).  It’s quite a clever book and undoubtedly I didn’t catch all the little jokes that Haig made, but I enjoyed it a lot when I did find them.

Overall, I would definitely recommend The Radleys and I’m glad it’s been picked up for a film version – I think it would make a great one.  For more information and sample chapters, check out the Facebook page.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from a publicist for review.

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10 comments to Review: The Radleys, Matt Haig

  • I must confess I just cannot get into this vampire phase that has taken the world by storm. I did read Twilight and thought it was ok, but I have not read any of the other books in the series, nor have I had a desire to see the movies. Don’t even get me started on the Jane Austen remakes of this “other world”

    This book, however, intrigues me. I would love to read about the British middle class, and the fact that they keep their origins a secret make me wonder if I might enjoy it even better. I will definitely give this one a go. Thank you, Meghan!
    Molly´s last post …TSS- Happy 4th of July-

  • Oh, this sounds like a really great read! I love that it does something different with the typical vampire story and that it has such great characters. I must admit to never having heard of this book before, but now it’s one that I really want to read. Thanks for the great review!!
    zibilee´s last post …Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn — 480 pgs

  • From the title, I expected this to be about To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m not into vampires, but do think this sounds interesting! Great review!

  • I am with Bermudaonion- I thought this was about To Kill a Mockingbird!

    This sounds like a better take on the vampire premise than the book I am reading right now, Sunshine. A lot of people really love Sunshine but I am not feeling it…
    Aarti´s last post …Review- The Vanishing of Katharina Linden

  • Funnily enough, as I was reading your review I thought to myself it sounded like it would be a good movie or TV show.

    Would you say this book is optimistic or pessimistic about the lives of the middle-class?
    heidenkind´s last post …Musical Notes

  • Oh cool a British vampire book – we started the whole vampire deal so we should have more modern vamp stories set here(alright so there were vamp stories before Bran Stoker and he was from Ireland originally). I like the idea that it makes you question the front of normalacy as well.
    Jodie´s last post …That Makes Six – Whitewashing Reappears

  • On the whole, I am not a fan of vampire based novels, but this one sounds like it may actually be good. I will have to check it out–thanks for your review!
    Stephanie´s last post …Book Review- My Fair Lazy

  • I’ll definitely have to give this one a go. I love the premise. And, yes, I like vampires.
    Beth F´s last post …Review- A Place for Delta by Melissa Walker

  • Amy

    I’m a bit tired of vampires (it seems everything I pick up lately has a vampire in it even if I’m not looking for one) but this book sounds like it might be fun.
    Amy´s last post …Teaser Tuesdays

  • I found this a fun read, light and frothy but nothing too brilliant. If you’re interested you can read my review here: http://tinyurl.com/3veqxet. Be interested to see the film when it comes out, sounds like they have some good people on board already.
    Matthew (@thebibliofreak)´s last post …Review: The Radleys by Matt Haig