The Radleys by Matt Haig (Free Press; $25.00; 371 pages)
Ever wondered about your next door neighbors? You would if you lived next door to the Radleys. This seemingly ordinary family consisting of a father, mother, and two teenagers – a boy and a girl, is not what they appear to be. Yes, the father is a doctor and the kids are students at the local school. Mom belongs to a book club and they live in a very nice house. Every family has its black sheep and the Radleys are no exception.
The truth is that mom and dad are non-practicing vampires. They swore off killing and living forever many years ago, exited the happening vampire scene in London and moved to the suburbs. Dr. Radley’s brother is a high living, trouble making, practicing vampire who does not age and makes no pretense about living the life. The kids are clueless as to their family background. Maybe the aversion to sunshine, pallid skin color and peculiar longings should have been clues?
If you’re new to the recent vampire craze in literature as is this reviewer, the mechanics of being a vampire would be somewhat confused and clouded by ancient stories and movies from the Bella Lugosi era. The Radleys provides abundant information regarding traditions, practices and popular culture vampires – think Jim Morrison. This charming satire captures the romance of the Harry Potter stories and, while emotion filled, it is not the least bit sappy.
Author Matt Haig is highly imaginative in his development of the story line and details. His characterizations and plot interactions are nearly believable. The references to famous vampires are also nearly believable. While this book is not one that the average person might gravitate toward at their local bookseller, it is well worth seeking out. After all, if an engaging human interest story can take one away from the daily grind, this one will transport the reader to another dimension!
This review was written by Ruta Arellano. A review copy was received from the publisher.