They talk some more, Will prompting Peter into remembering their early childhood on the barge. How their parents always went that extra mile to make their infancy special, like the time they brought a freshly killed department store Santa Clause home for their midnight Christmas feast.
The Radleys are a pretty average family. Peter, Helen and their two teenagers Clara and Rowan live a fairly normal life – until the local bully tries to assault vegan Clara at a party. Let’s just say she finds her taste for meat.
The plot of The Radleys isn’t particularly original. A family of non-humans trying to fit in to normal society? It’s been done a million times. What Matt Haig brings to the table, however, is a twisted sense of humour and gruesome detail. This book is very funny and immensely enjoyable. The characters, while vampires, are very realistic. The plot appears quite silly, but the book doesn’t read that way – if you don’t have much of a sick sense of humour, I wouldn’t recommend! The Radleys is gruesome and dark, and doesn’t sugar coat the addictive qualities that blood supposedly possesses for the vampires. It’s more than just not drinking it, it’s an addiction that plagues Peter and his brother Will especially.
I think one of my favourite parts of the book are the extracts from ‘The Abstainers’ Handbook’ between chapters. ‘The Abstainers’ Handbook’ is a book owned by Peter and Helen. It is a guide for vampires living without drinking human (or vampire) blood, and provides a lot of the information the reader gets on the vampires’ subculture. It adds a layer to the book that ties everything up wonderfully, and expands the world.
This is the second Matt Haig book I’ve reviewed, the first being Reasons to Stay Alive. This makes Haig the first author I’ve reviewed more than once (although I have written about JK Rowling on several occasions). In Reasons to Stay Alive Haig has a very distinctive voice, and this is still very clear in the Radleys, despite it being fiction and non-biographical. There’s something very real and relatable in his writing style that pulls me in.
Overall, The Radleys is a brilliant magical realist novel, with comedy and heart by the bucketful. I’d definitely recommend this book!
See you soon,
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