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The Radleys by Matt Haig

January 6, 2011 - Amy Phelps
A seemingly ordinary family is not so ordinary after all in “The Radleys” by Matt Haig.

In a small England town, the Radleys are a quiet family living a typical life.

Husband Peter is a doctor at a small clinic, helping elderly patients with their various aches and pains. Wife Helen stays busy keeping an eye on their two teenaged children and hosts dinner parties for the couple’s next door neighbors. Son Rowan, the oldest, is a quiet boy who is being picked on at school and holds an unrequited love of the new girl, Eve. Sister Clara is a quiet girl who has recently become a vegan.

Clara’s suffering from health problems related to her new diet, a fact that frustrates her parents. But when Clara and Eve go to a party with some friends, and one boy gets Clara alone and tries to attack her — their whole lives change.

It turns out Peter and Helen are Abstainers, vampires who become “human” and go without blood. They have never told their children their secret, and the emaciated Clara, when attacked, does what comes naturally to a vampire — drains the boy of his blood. Peter and Helen are called to not only tell their children the truth, but to also hide the body. That’s when Peter calls upon his wild older brother, Will, for help.

Once Will shows up, charming the children with tales of his vampire life, Peter and Helen must question if they are doing the right thing, for themselves and their children. And Peter and Helen also begin to question their own relationship, especially Helen, who has been hiding a secret for too many years, one that threatens to come back and haunt her...

This is a kind of “peek into suburban life” kind of novel, but through the eyes of vampires. There are stressed marriages, tormented teens, past and present love affairs, and questions of whether the life the characters are living is the one they truly want, all told with a wry British wink.

For fans of vampires novels, but tired of the typical romantic angst or outright horror, give this quaint book a try.

Haig is also the author of “The Last Family in England,” “The Dead Father’s Club” and “The Possession of Mr. Cave,” all of which are currently in development for film. I would expect “The Radleys” to follow.

 
 

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