The Radleys by Matt Haig is a book about vampires. I hold my hands up and admit I am not the biggest fan of books about vampires. I’ve read Stephanie Meyer and Charlaine Harris; I enjoyed the Sookie Stackhouse books for a while but paranormal romance just doesn’t grip me.
However, The Radleys is not a paranormal romance. It is a family-based, supernatural, drama and it is fantastic breath of fresh air for vampires literature. The only unusual thing about this middle class family who live in a typical English village is the fact that they are vampires.
The two teenage children in the book only just learn what they really are after their parents kept their true nature a secret from them. It is only when one of them discovered a taste for blood by accident that all of the family’s tightly guarded secrets begin spilling out like a torrent of blood.
Many of the inner torments the characters have to deal with revolve around this secret, which has been kept for so long, but in many ways their feelings are akin to the problems of everyday humans. Not fitting in at school. Dealing with unwanted attention from a boy. Dealing with lustful fantasies about a neighbour. Regretting and trying to forget past mistakes. Teenage crushes. You know normal stuff.
It is this realism, which makes the story a great deal more believable. That might be an unusual request for a fantasy book, they aren’t supposed to be real, they are meant to be supernatural. For me as a reader though, I want to be able to relate to the characters in some way. What they are, what they are doing, and how the people around them react is absolutely crucial to making a story readable. I sympathised with the characters at times. I got irritated with but understood their inability to overcome their crippling feelings and take action. I felt as if the end had a proper and natural resolution.
I would highly recommend The Radleys to anybody looking to read a great book, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to read a fantasy book about vampires sans the paranormal romance.
- All Hallow’s Read (Day 8) – The Radleys (dreadfultales.com)