In Matt Haig’s The Radleys, the general populace is unaware of the existence of vampires. The Radleys, a modern vampire family live as abstainers, guided by a bible of abstinence which prohibits taking human life for blood. At times thoughtful, even mournful, the Radleys is also spiced with wry humor. ( Lord Byron, Jimi Hendrix and Danielle Steel are revealed to be vampires...Neckbook is the new social networking craze.)
The Radleys of Orchard Lane are a family pretending to be everything they are not-average, pedestrian, normal. Peter is a physician at the local clinic, and his wife Helen paints watercolors, and attends book club discussion. Their son Rowan is bullied at school, and daughter Clara is going vegan, and championing animal rights. Though they are keeping up appearances, Peter and Helen have been harboring a secret not just from the town folk of Bishopthorpe, but from their own children as well. Clara wonders why animals avoid her, and Rowan suffers endless torment from his classmates for his “differentness”. In spite of the wrenching control Peter and Helen have maintained over the years, a carefully constructed façade is on the verge of crumbling. The fragile peace of the Radley’s lives is violently shattered when Clara is overwhelmed by her true nature. There’s no turning back. As Clara’s crisis rocks the foundation of their world, the past is also catching up. Peter’s brother arrives on the scene, bringing his own threat to the Radley’s survival, and the police are closing in on Clara.
As tensions in the town tighten, bonds between the Radleys are tested. The lure of blood is strong, and each member of the family will be drawn into temptation and challenged to find the strength to take control of their destinies. Revenge, love, hope and rebirth coalesce at the conclusion. They may be vampires, but the Radleys are also strangely human, fallible, and very likeable. In a sea of current vampire novels on the shelves today, The Radleys is a stand-out. I hope we hear more from Matt Haig.