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.