The Radleys

The Radleys

by Matt Haig

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451610338
Publisher: Free Press
Publication date: 09/20/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 529,789
Product dimensions: 5.74(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.98(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Matt Haig is the bestselling author of several children’s books and novels, including The Radleys, winner of the ALA Alex Award. An alumnus of Hull University and Leeds, his work has been translated into twenty-nine languages. He lives in York with his wife, UK novelist Andrea Semple, and their two children.

Read an Excerpt

Orchard Lane

It is a quiet place, especially at night.

Too quiet, you’d be entitled to think, for any kind of monster to live among its pretty, tree-shaded lanes.

Indeed, at three o’clock in the morning in the village of Bishopthorpe, it is easy to believe the lie indulged in by its residents—that it is a place for good and quiet people to live good and quiet lives.

At this hour, the only sounds to be heard are those made by nature itself. The hoot of an owl, the faraway bark of a dog, or, on a breezy night like this one, the wind’s obscure whisper through the sycamore trees. Even if you stood on the main street, right outside the pub or the Hungry Gannet delicatessen, you wouldn’t often hear any traffic or be able to see the abusive graffiti that decorates the former post office (though the word FREAK might just be legible if you strain your eyes).

Away from the main street, on somewhere like Orchard Lane, if you took a nocturnal stroll past the detached period homes lived in by solicitors and doctors and project managers, you would find all their lights off and curtains drawn, secluding them from the night. Or you would until you reached number seventeen, where you’d notice the glow from an upstairs window filtering through the curtains.

And if you stopped, sucked in that cool and consoling fresh night air, you would at first see that number seventeen is a house otherwise in tune with those around it. Maybe not quite as grand as its closest neighbor, number nineteen, with its wide driveway and elegant Regency features, but still one that holds its own.

It is a house that looks and feels precisely how a village family home should look—not too big, but big enough, with nothing out of place or jarring on the eye. A dream house in many ways, as estate agents would tell you, and certainly perfect to raise children.

But after a moment you’d notice there is something not right about it. No, maybe “notice” is too strong. Perhaps you wouldn’t actively realize that even nature seems to be quieter around this house, that you can’t hear any birds or anything else at all. Yet there might be an instinctive sense that would make you wonder about that glowing light and feel a coldness that doesn’t come from the night air.

If that feeling grew, it might become a fear that would make you want to leave the scene and run away, but you probably wouldn’t. You would observe the nice house and the moderately expensive car parked outside and think that this is the property of perfectly normal human beings who pose no threat to the outside world.

If you let yourself think this, you would be wrong. For 17 Orchard Lane is the home of the Radleys, and despite their very best efforts, they are anything but normal.

© 2010 Matt Haig

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Radleys includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Matt Haig. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
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INTRODUCTION

Meet the Radleys, a typical British family. Peter works at a medical clinic while his wife, Helen, tends to the family home at 17 Orchard Lane. Rowan and Clara, their children, are teenagers struggling with the highs and lows that adolescence brings. The Radleys, however, have a dirty secret in their past, which comes to light when Clara finds herself standing over the body of a thirteen-year-old boy that she has murdered. When a police investigation is launched to find out what happened to the boy, the household is set for disaster. To make matters worse, Peter’s brother Will arrives and throws the house into turmoil as the Radleys grapple with the temptation that tasting blood brings. Old secrets are unearthed, new obstacles appear and the Radleys must struggle to keep it all together.

The Radleys is a stirring novel that explores the lengths a parent will go to protect a child, the cost of denying one’s identity, the undeniable appeal of sin, and the everlasting bonds of family love.

TOPICS AND QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1. In the opening lines the author describes the Radley household as one that “you would observe . . . and think that this is the property of perfectly normal human beings who pose no threat to the outside world. If you let yourself think this, you would be wrong” (p. 6). How “normal” are the Radleys? Despite their vampire background, do they have the same struggles as every other “normal” family?

2. What is The Abstainer’s Handbook? What do Peter and Will each think about it? Why do you think the author chose to interject various quotes from The Abstainer’s Handbook throughout the course of the novel?

3. On the surface, Rowan and Clara Radley seem to suffer from the same problems of every adolescent: bullies, schoolwork, popularity, etc. How are their adolescent issues magnified by the fact that they are vampires? Does life get easier or harder once they find out their family secret?

4. What causes Helen to realize that their “nurture over nature” parenting lifestyle has failed? Do you believe that an incident like Clara’s was bound to happen sooner or later?

5. After Clara’s incident each member of the Radley family struggles with the temptation to indulge in their thirst for blood. Discuss how each family member responds to the temptation. Whose response shocked you the most and why?

6. When we first meet Uncle Will he seems to be the complete opposite of his brother Peter. As the novel progresses, we discover they are more alike than we think they are. How so? What caused the rift between them? What are Will’s arguments against an “unblood” lifestyle? What happens to Will over the course of his visit to the Radley household?

7. All of the main characters in The Radleys struggle with their desires. The Abstainer’s Handbook states: “We have to learn that the things we desire are very often the things which could lead to our own self-destruction.” (p. 88) Discuss this quotation with respect to Will, Peter, Helen, and Jared.

8. Clara argues, “Everyone represses everything.” (p. 287) Do you believe this to be true? Is The Radleys an argument for denying or embracing who you really are?

9. The Unnamed Predator Unit hunts vampires but operates under the logic that by “granting immunity to some of the most depraved [vampires], they were able to exert an influence on them and curb some of their activities.” (p. 165)Do you agree with this mentality? Why do you think Will is removed from their “immunity” list? Do you think the “new” Radleys have anything to worry about from the UPU?

10. Near the end of The Radleys there is an excerpt from The Abstainer’s Handbook that reads “If you weaken, if you choose pleasure over principle . . . then you will never be able to know tomorrow . . . is it really worth rolling the dice?”(p. 351) How do you think the Radley family would answer? How would you answer?

11. The Radleys seem like a perfectly normal family except for the fact that they are vampires. How are the problems they face similar to or different from that of any other normal family? How many of their problems do you think are actually rooted in them being vampires?

12. Do you think their vampirism functions as a metaphor for something else? If so, what could their being vampires represent?

13. What do you think of the ending? How has embracing their true natures enabled the Radleys to live more fully? How does it affect other people in their lives?

ENHANCE YOUR BOOK CLUB

1. Still stuck in vampire ecstasy? Enjoy a vampire movie night with your book club and show some of the classics: Dracula, Interview with the Vampire, Nosferatu, Martin, and more.

2. Throughout The Radleys we encounter a number of rules that govern vampires. Have each person in your book club come up with a new vampire rule, why they think it should exist, and then share.

3. Follow this fun and easy recipe for a “Vampire Blood Drink” and share with your book club!

Ingredients:

1 gallon cranberry juice
1 gallon orange juice
1 cup raspberry sorbet
1 quart seltzer

Instructions:

Mix the juices together.
Add the sorbet, softened, and stir until it disappears. Add the seltzer.
Pour into glasses and stir with Glow Sticks swizzle sticks.

A CONVERSATION WITH MATT HAIG

The Radleys has been described as a “family satire about midlife crisis, addiction, sexual desire, and teenage angst enacted among a twenty-first-century nuclear family of vampires.” Why did you decide to make them vampires? What element did that add?

I deliberately tried to make the Radleys as recognizably normal as possible. This is because I wanted this, first and foremost, to be the story of a family, and about the pressures families face. Vampirism in this novel becomes just another family pressure, but as a symbol of desire, obsession, and addiction has real world relevance. I thought it was the perfect metaphor for all those destructive forces that can tear families apart.


Why did you feel it necessary for the vampires to have rules that govern them? Would they be too powerful otherwise?

Well, the rules are primarily for the abstainers. But even the practicing vampires have rules regarding the deal they’ve made with the police. This was mainly to make it as realistic as possible, to show the reader that if vampires existed they probably wouldn’t know about them.


In reality, you’ve written two books in one: The Radleys and The Abstainer’s Handbook. What was the inspiration for The Abstainer’s Handbook? Do you feel that it ultimately fails the Radleys?

The Abstainer’s Handbook is an abstaining vampire’s self-help manual, and it has a joyless, anti-life message. I suppose I am satirizing overly puritanical moral structures and how they can be counter-productive. It certainly fails the Radleys.

How much research did you do for the book? Was your vampire jargon your own creation or borrowed from others?

The research I did was more into the human aspects – researching medical information for Peter’s patients at the doctor’s surgery. I am quite well-versed on vampire films and literature anyway so didn’t need to research that too much. The jargon is my own.


You reveal that a number of famous people from history are vampires. Are there any other celebrity vampires that were omitted from the final draft?

Elvis Pressley, Marquis de Sade, Edgar Allen Poe.


At the end of The Radleys, everyone is given a “second chance”: Clara is let off the hook, Eve is saved from the brink of death and the Radley family is closer than ever. Why did you choose to end it this way? Was there ever a draft in which the ending was not so happy? How would you respond to readers who say that the Radleys got off too easily?

This is my first every happy(ish) ending. I believe it is the only ending I could have written, one which offers an alternative to the two-extreme lifestyle choices as advertised by Will on the one hand, and abstainers on the other. And it’s by no means a closed ‘happy ever after’ ending, because it is very unpredictable how the Radleys will cope now they have a renewed taste for blood.

Do you believe that we could live in a society where humans and vampires co-exist? Or, do we already?

I think it would be difficult but given the blatant marketing opportunities I’m sure there would be an incentive to get along.

The Radleys was published in the UK in July of 2010 and has been sold at auction in 11 countries so far. How do you feel the book will resonate with American audiences as opposed to British audiences?

I don’t know. In some ways it’s a very British story because it’s set in Britain and the Radleys themselves are a very British type of middle class family, but really the concerns of this book aren’t nation specific. Obsession, infidelity, addiction and parenthood, and growing up are pretty universal things, I think.

Between Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, HBO’s True Blood and Susan Hubbard’s Society of S, The Radleys comes at a time when the vampire craze is sweeping the nation. Why do you think we’ve been gripped by vampire fever?

Jungian psychologists believe the vampire myth is part of our collective unconscious and rises up in some form at certain points in history – the Romantic period, the late-Victorian period, the 1980s and now. Why all these things have sprung up almost simultaneously, I don’t know, nor do I know why people suddenly have an appetite for them. I’m suspecting it has something to do with collective guilt about what our own appetites have indirectly done to the world, which probably explains why most vampire stories deal with blood-guilt as much as blood-lust.

Alfonso Cuaron, director of Y Tu Mama Tambien and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, to name a few, has optioned your book. Any thoughts on who you would like to see play some of the main characters?

Out of all of them, Will would be the obvious A-list role. When I wrote the book I saw Will as either a British Jack Nicholson circa 1972 or a young Oliver Reed—both impossible, of course. Robert Downey Jr. with a British accent would be a modern day equivalent, I suppose.

What’s next for you? Will we be hearing from the Radleys again?

I’m working on a screenplay at the moment, along with a children’s book. I’m going to get working on another novel pretty soon. It won’t be the Radleys but I probably will return to them in the future. After all, vampires never die.

Customer Reviews

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The Radleys 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 144 reviews.
BookBobBP More than 1 year ago
When I received this book I thought oh another vampire book. But then I started to read it and it was so much more. What I liked most about this story was how human the vampires were in the story. They fall in love they marry they have children and they eventually die. This story is about the vampire family the Radleys at the begining of the story their two children do not even know they are vampires. The Parents want to be a typical middle class normal British family and they think by not telling their children about their heritage it will cause them to be normal. This will serously back fire and that is the begining of this wonderful story. I really enjoyed this story because as a middle age man who has been married for 20 years and has teenage children I found Peter very easy to indentify with. If you want something good to read that will make you think this is the book to read.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Dr. Peter and Helen Radley, accompanied by their teenage children Clara and Rowan, move from swinging wild London to quiet sedate Bishopthorpe. Believing blood thirst is a simple addiction, the parents adhere strictly to The Abstainer's Handbook rules that strongly suggest living like a human while living amongst humans. However, they have also neglected to inform their fifteen years old daughter and seventeen years old son that they are purebred vampires. The offspring suffer form nightmares that each conceals from their parents. However, everything changes when an intoxicated Stuart Harper attacks Clara a vegetarian. His assault causes the dormant thirst for blood (and meat) to arise in his female classmate as her fangs surface. Peter asks his brother Will an overt vampire to help them with their problems. This is an entertaining dark vampire family drama with a powerful twist to the relationships. Character driven, the cast makes the tale fun to read as none of the extended Radley family come across as vampiric stereotyped; instead ironically the four Radley suburbanites are stereotypical: repressed and must behave in accordance with the middle class rules of order while Uncle Will prefers the bloody life of a swinger. Intelligent this is a witty satirical spin to the recent vampire lives amongst us craze. Harriet Klausner
ManderDuck More than 1 year ago
The Radleys is great. I loved that the vampires in this book were completely opposite of any others I have read and I have read lots of vamp novels. I adored the change in Clara after the accident. And the evil yet wonderfully charming Will. I dont have a bad word to say about this. Do yourself a favor and pick this up.
Griffon_Shadowslayer More than 1 year ago
This was the best non - cheesy vampire book I have ever read! The concepts in this book were completely original and unique (as far as I know). The characters are completely believable (except for the vampire part) and you can't help but fall in love with them. The conflicts in this book are believable as well. It was great to finally read a vampire book that wasn't completely fantasy romance.
BrandimDabbs More than 1 year ago
This is one of those you want to be a series. You can't stop reading and want to know where the characters go after the ending. This isn't your average "running away from your true self" type book. There are things there very unexpected and with an ending that will shock you to your core! I give this book 5 stars for originality and keeping my attention 100% at all times!
GothamCity06365 More than 1 year ago
How a family of vampires in rural England try to be good abstaining vampires after a horrible incident brings their "safe" world crumbling down is the story of Matt Haig's wonderful take on vampires in The Radley's. With great characters and page turning storytelling Matt Haig has been able to take the now overdone vampire legend and make it fresh. What happenes when we try to stop ourselves from being what nature tells us we should be are some of the questions Haig answers in frightening yet beautiful prose. I certainly would suggest this to any horror fiction fan but also anyone looking for an engaging well written story.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“I can control myself. Look, for God’s sake. Look at everyone. Everyone represses everything. Do you think any of these ‘normal’ human beings really do exactly what they want to do all the time? ‘Course not. It’s just the same. We’re middle-class and we’re British. Repression is in our veins.” The Radleys is the third adult novel by British author, Matt Haig. Another novel featuring abstaining teenaged vampires? Well, yes, but this is Matt Haig’s creation, set in a North Yorkshire village: a world away from Twilight. Seventeen years ago, Peter and Helen Radley became abstainers. They now eschew human blood, surviving on animal products, even if it means a reduced life expectancy, continual migraines, depression and low energy levels. With their two teenagers, Rowan and Clara, they try to live a normal, middle-class life in Bishopthorpe. Despite their efforts to blend in, not everyone around them is convinced. Their next-door neighbours sense something, and Clara’s new friend, Eve Copeland, is recently arrived from Manchester with her ex-CID father who is casting a suspicious eye on the Radleys. Rowan and Clara are themselves completely unaware, knowing only that something is not quite right: they’ve no energy, get skin rashes from sun exposure, can’t sleep, animals avoid them and the kids at school think they’re weird. Recently, Clara has undertaken to become a vegan, exacerbating the chance of an attack of OBT (Overwhelming Blood Thirst), a condition to which she has no idea she might be prone. Then circumstances place her in a field on a Friday night with an insistent and very drunk young thug, and the inevitable happens. And when Peter’s older brother Will, a charismatic, practising vampire with an insatiable and indiscriminate bloodlust, turns up to help deal with the family’s crisis, things really get complicated. In this tale, Haig gives the reader an original plot that showcases his talent for portraying everyday characters facing not-so-everyday situations. He describes the English village life to a T, even if Bishopthorpe only thinks it is: “A place which fools itself into believing it is the epitome of a quaint English village but which, like most places, is really just one large fancy-dress shop, with more subtle costumes.” The narrative, taking place over four days in May, is from multiple perspectives and is supplemented by quotes from The Abstainer’s Handbook. There’s plenty of dark humour, including the irony of a vampire who would be most people’s nightmare, actually having nightmares himself. Haig’s cops monitoring vampires (the Unnamed Predator Unit) though, are chillingly pragmatic when it comes to vampire kills. Haig’s characters develop and mature under the pressure of events, and he gives them some insightful observations: “The kind of thrill people get when something devastating happens, a thrill they never admit to, but which dances in their eyes as they talk about how bad they feel.” and “It felt strangely grown-up too, as though that’s what being an adult was – the ability to know which secrets needed keeping. And which lies will save the ones you love.” are examples. Certain Australian beer drinkers will be delighted to learn that VB (in this case, Vampire Blood) is a revered tipple in vampire society. Another brilliant offering from Matt Haig, this one is intelligent, clever and blackly funny.
irishbookworm21 More than 1 year ago
Meet the Radleys: Peter, the patriarch. Peter is a physician in a small town where everyone knows everyone and is interested in their lives (obsessively so). He wishes for more in his home, doesn't get it, so he begins to fantasize about what could be with his neighbor. Helen, the matriarch. Helen tries to keep the family on the straight and narrow, hanging on to habit and tradition with a ferocity that would make a rabid wolverine proud. Rowan, the son. Sensitive, artistic, and Lord Byron's biggest fan. Rowan is subjected to the bullying of his classmates. He is also secretly in love with his sister's best friend. Clara, the daughter. Clara starts out seemingly in the background. She is Eve's friend, the beautiful newcomer who has enraptured Rowan (and most of the male teenage population of Bishopthorpe). But Clara will not stay in the background long. One fateful night, a young man decides that he is going to ignore the fact that no means no. It is his decision that will change the fates of this, well, boring middle-class family. You see, the Radleys are vampires. Granted, Rowan and Clara do not know this, and Peter and Helen have been abstaining for the last 17 years. However, that night changes everything for them. Rowan and Clara learn their true natures, Peter's long lost brother returns with his past on his heels, and this nuclear family goes atomic. And all of this happens in the span of a week. Matt Haig's tale of family and what happens when secrets are finally revealed is one of the best books I have read in quite some time. He is in turn humorous and serious. Haig captures the nature of repression with sparkling clarity. His unique voice is one that I find refreshing. Haig expertly captures the disconnection that his characters are experiencing between what is right and what is nature. When I first started the book, I was a little put off by the seemingly erratic change in topic in the first few tiny chapters (some as short as a few paragraphs on one single page). However, as I continued reading, the book and its format began to make sense. As in real life, we never get the full impact of a situation all at once. Haig mirrors that in his writing. As with all that I read, I gauge how much I like a book based on if I would read it again. The answer: over and over! This book is fantastic! The only con I can really post is that I would have liked to have heard more from Clara throughout the novel. She tended to take a backseat to everyone else, and she is really the character who put the major part of the story in motion. Outside of that, the novel was great! My next step will be to seek out Haig's other novels. I can only imagine they will be just as grand as this one. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Clara and Rowan live with sub-standard metabolisms, they have a constant rash, can't eat garlic, must wear sunscreen all the time while their parents have a very boring hum-drum life in an English town. What they don't know is that they're actually vampires. Well they don't know until Clara is attacked and kills a boy. Then things get complicated and everyone in the family has to face up to the reality of who they are and what makes them different.It's an interesting idea but I wasn't impressed, it wasn't bad, it just has an interesting idea and ran with it but didn't develop the characters in any great detail. A light read that kept me reading but didn't make me want to read more by that author or make me want more of the story.
readingwithtea on LibraryThing 7 months ago
"If blood is the answer, you are asking the wrong question."The Radleys are just another family in Bishopthorpe: Clara, the vegetarian teenager who doesn't understand why animals flee from her; Rowan, besotted with the girl a few streets over, whose dad really doesn't like the Radleys; and Ma and Pa Radley - stuck in standard stereotypical middle-class marital strife. Only problem: they're vampiric abstainers, trying to live a human life and avoiding blood consumption.I really wanted to enjoy The Radleys, Matt Haig's gentle satire of the vampire craze that has swept the literary world. Maybe my lack of prior offences with vampire books was the reason for my lukewarm reaction; often a parody is only funny if you are familiar with the object of the humour (is this why I didn't like Northanger Abbey?).Also - there was a whole lot of blood. This might be standard for vampire novels, and I'm no stranger to gory crime scenes from my steady thriller diet, but somehow this was far too graphic.Haig has a really clever idea here and I'm sure that those more familiar with the vampiric genre would derive great enjoyment from the subtle and unsubtle snarks that Haig drops all over the place, but it just wasn't for me.
WoodsieGirl on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The Radleys book coverThis book was completely not what I was expecting. I picked it up last year in a book sale, recognising it as a title my big sister had mentioned, in passing, as being quite a good read. This is the blurb:"Life with the Radleys: Radio 4, dinner parties with the Bishopthorpe neighbours and self-denial. Loads of self-denial. But all hell is about to break loose. When teenage daughter Clara gets attacked on the way home from a party, she and her brother Rowan finally discover why they can't sleep, can't eat a Thai salad without fear of asphyxiation and can't go outside unless they're smothered in Factor 50. With a visit from their lethally louche uncle Will and an increasingly suspicious police force, life in Bishopthorpe is about to change. Drastically."...which I managed to read as "They look like a normal family! But actually, they're vampires! Hilarity and wacky consequences ensue!" That, and the quotes on the cover from Vogue and the Daily Mail pronouncing it to be "great fun" and "addictive" led me to believe that this would be a kind of black-comedy chick-lit, with vampires. That was... not quite the case.First off, I have to say I did enjoy this book. The tone was just not what I was expecting, which threw me. I wouldn't describe it as black comedy after all - although there were a few lines that made me smile (the part where Will is reminiscing about his and Peter's parents, and "the time they brought a freshly killed department store Santa Claus home for their midnight Christmas feast", stood out as a wonderfully vicious throwaway line), the tone overall was surprisingly serious. I couldn't quite decide whether the writer wanted you to take the book seriously, or if it was just meant as a parody of the current craze for vampire novels. Apart from the fact of their being vampires, the Radleys are portrayed as a fairly stock "dysfunctional family" - the bullied son, the self-conscious daughter, and the husband and wife stuck in a loveless marriage and gradually drifting apart from each other. None of the characters exactly had tons of depth, but I wouldn't expect that from a light read like this. They were all quite likeable, particularly the son, Rowan, who reminded me a bit of a vampire Adrian Mole.I found the uncle, Will, a practising vampire (i.e. he still kills people, unlike the rest of the abstaining Radleys) the most interesting character in the book. Haig pulls off the unlikely feat of making this cold-blooded murderer seem like quite a decent bloke, sympathetic even - for most of the book, at least. The descriptions of, and references to, his killings were much more graphic and brutal than I had expected - not a bad thing at all though, I like my vampires vicious!This book attempts a tricky balancing act between gentle suburban dysfunctional family tropes on the one hand, and proper bloody horror on the other, and almost succeeds. The thing that let it down for me really was the ending, which I found a bit unsatisfying: it felt far too contrived for me, too neat. That's a small criticism though for a book that otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed reading.And hey, look: I managed to write a whole review of a vampire novel without referring to it as "a story with real bite" or "a book to sink your teeth into"!Verdict: 3/5
laytonwoman3rd on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I picked this up at the library thinking it was probably a "spin-off" of To Kill a Mockingbird. Why not? Somebody should surely have written the story of Mr. Arthur's tormented life by now, right? Well, it ain't that. It's about a dysfunctional family, sure enough, though. I'm not sure why I sank my teeth into it at all after reading the cover blurbs....I thought I was finished with Wampyres long ago. But this turned out to be a decent junk food read that kept me turning pages even though the writing is nothing special and the story line is somewhat predictable once you get the set-up. Which is this: over the centuries a lot of well-known artists (as well as "ordinary people") have been vampires (who prefer the term "blood addicts" for some reason), some of whom have chosen to abstain from the practice of blood-sucking. Among these, we are meant to believe, were Bram Stoker himself, a good many rock musicians (nod to Ann Rice), and pretty much all English Romantic Poets except Wordsworth. Abstinence from blood-drinking is a path much much harder to follow than celibacy, for instance, as there are fairly extreme physical obstacles to be overcome. The Radleys are an old vampire family, whose current members include wild Will (definitely NOT an abstainer): his brother Peter, Peter's wife Helen, and their two misfit teenage children who have been kept ignorant of their true nature for 17 years. Naturally, no story would ensue if SOMETHING didn't happen to reveal the secret. The whole thing feels slightly satirical, and ends with a message---to thine own self be true, even if it means slugging back a pint of VB from time to time. Points for the vampire vocabulary, which includes "bram" (originally an acronym for Blood Resister's Animal Meat), VIB (Very Important Blood, of course) and UPU, the Unnamed Predator Unit of the Manchester police force, which knows all about the vampire culture, and strives to "limit its socially and morally destructive activities" by highly unconventional means. More points for references to the Booker Prize and Hay-on-Wye. Still, not something I'm recommending highly to my friends, at 21/2 stars.
Tealbear98 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
¿¿~¿ ¿~¿¿~¿ "The Radleys" is a fun quick read!!The characters are well written and the story is captivating. I LOVE THE RADLEYS!!! Although this book is about vampires its not your usual vampire story its very new and refreshing!!!I absolutely loved this book!!!I'm keeping my fingers crossed for sequel!!!I didn't want to put it down!!!I want more :) Please!!!I highly recommend!!!¿¿~¿ ¿~¿¿~¿
jwitt33 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I won this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.The Radleys are a normal, boring upper middle class British family, with one tiny difference: they are vampires. When Helen and Peter Radley get married and find out Helen is pregnant, they decide that they are going to leave their wild and crazy blood-filled life behind and follow the rules from The Abstainer's Handbook: integrate, integrate, integrate! If you get the urge to drink blood, work out! Or do the dishes, or some other mundane chore. Their children, Clara and Rowan, have no idea that they are vampires, they just think they are always tired and have chronic headaches (and in Rowan's case a terrible skin condition) because they have a vitamin deficiency. That is, until Clara is being physically attacked by a bully from her school, and she fights back by chomping into him! Their parents are forced to tell them the truth and call Will, Peter's very active blood-drinking vampire brother, to help them out. That's when their carefully constructed plans all come apart at the seams. From Goodreads: "One night, Clara finds herself driven to commit a shocking¿and disturbingly satisfying¿act of violence, and her parents are forced to explain their history of shadows and lies. A police investigation is launched that uncovers a richness of vampire history heretofore unknown to the general public. And when the malevolent and alluring Uncle Will, a practicing vampire, arrives to throw the police off Clara¿s trail, he winds up throwing the whole house into temptation and turmoil and unleashing a host of dark secrets that threaten the Radleys¿ marriage."I wasn't sure what to expect from the book because it is listed, per the author, as a "domestic drama." And in essence, that's what it is. The fact that they are vampires is almost secondary to the fact that they are doing everything in their power to be good, constructive members of society. Peter is a doctor, and Helen belongs to the weekly book club. But vampires they are, and no matter how much they try to hide it, it doesn't change the facts. I thought Matt Haig did an excellent job blending these two things. This isn't your average vampire book by any means, but in this case, it definitely works. As you watch their carefully constructed world fall apart piece by piece, you are drawn into the story. There is a nice little back story going on about how Helen was converted into vampirism, and this too works nicely to flesh out the story. The characters definitely grow and change throughout the story, and I was very happy with the ending! In summary, this is a very good book, and I definitely recommend it for vampire book lovers who are looking for something a little bit different to sink their teeth into :D
iluvvideo on LibraryThing 7 months ago
OK. I'll admit it. I'm a vampire nut!This story is unique in the way it portrays vampires and vampirism. Especially 'The Abstainers Handbook' a guide to help vampires deny their blood craving instincts and to try and pass among the general populace unnoticed. The Unnamed Predator Unit, a secretive branch of the police force tries to keep rogue vampire incidents from general public by aligning itself with a group of powerful vampires who help provide information and discipline among other vampires. Now meet the Radleys. Dad's a doctor, Mom's a homemaker with a talent for painting, dark and moody teenage brother Rowan and Clara a vegan who is just starting to become socially active. Vampires all, but Dad and Mom practice abstinence and have never discussed their vampire lineage with the kids. At a party Clara has to fight off the advances of an over amorous bully who corners her alone. A shockingly violent episode leaves quite a mess. What happened? How to explain what happened to the bully's family, friends and even the police!A call home brings her parents to try and control the situation but there are so many loose ends... An argument ensues over calling Uncle Will, a practicing vampire of some ill repute, who arrives to help, but also with family secrets and intentions to end the families abstinence and teach the kids their true natures.Equal parts vampire story and story of family dynamics the book moves back and forth between the two spheres never quite deciding which it will ultimately follow. I never really became immersed in the book to the degree I wanted. The characters never really conveyed the urgency that the story required to sustain my interest. There is little sex or excessive violence to worry about. I ultimately added it to my list of books for young adults.
mcelhra on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Peter and Helen Radley are abstainers ¿ vampires who don¿t consume blood. They live by The Abstainers Handbook and haven¿t even told their two teenage children that they are vampires. One night their daughter Clara accidentally gives in to her natural instincts (that she didn¿t even know she had) and Peter and Helen are forced to explain the truth to her and her brother Rowan. Peter calls on his brother Will, a practicing vampire, to help them out with the police investigation that follows. Having Will around turns their life into chaos and they have to decide which lies are worth keeping and which truths are worth telling.The Radleys has vampires in it but it¿s not really a ¿vampire book¿. And it¿s definitely nothing like the smutty vampire books I usually read! This is a ¿thinking person¿s¿ vampire book. It¿s more about family relationships ¿ the Radleys are dysfunctional in very human ways. Rowan, shy and unsure of himself, is bullied by the kids at school and has a crush on his sister¿s best friend. Peter and Helen have hit a rough patch in their marriage and Peter may be going through a mid-life crisis of sorts. Will finds himself growing restless and killing more indiscriminately lately, causing the larger vampire community to grow impatient with him. Okay, that last one may be more of a vampire-only problem!The Radleys were all flawed but likable and surprisingly relatable considering they were vampires. I think most everyone has felt like they don¿t fit in at some time in their lives like the Radleys. Also, most everyone has probably tried to overcome something in their lives the way the Radleys are trying to overcome the compulsion to drink blood, whether it¿s overeating, smoking or something else. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to everyone, not just vampire fans.
aimless22 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
An interesting look at a family of abstaining vampires. Parents who feel stuck in their individual midlife crises; teenage children who deal with the pressures of growing up; a family living with secrets.Both kids get made fun of at school. They know they are different, but do not know why. They deal with the bullies and the confusion as many siblings do - they rely on each other. When events escalate, they need to rely on their parents as well. Every family member must come to terms with the need for secrecy and lies.
ReviewsbyMolly on LibraryThing 7 months ago
When you read a mystery thriller book, you expect to be kept on the edge of your seat and to want to keep turning the pages long into the night. When I went into reading this book, that is not what happened for me. I read the description on the book and was excited about a new mystery book available to review, filled with family secrets. However, upon opening the book and reading through it, I was quite disappointed to see that it was a vampire-like story. Definitely not what I usually read. Oh, don't get me wrong. I will, from time to time, read a book outside my favorite genres because every author deserves a chance. And, so, I delved into this book with hopes that it wouldn't be "just another vampire story" that I so don't like to read. To my surprise, while definitely NOT my absolutely all time favorite book, it was an alright book. I wouldn't keep it on my bookshelf though. I found that the plot, was indeed, well written and interesting. The characters really fit the roles that they played in this story. The complexity of the vampire-likeness of the novel, was so much more than in past vampire-y novels that I have read. The author truly has a talent for writing this style of book. Would I recommend this book to everyone? No. Would I recommend this book to those who love vampire novels and fantasies? Most definitely. Would I read it again? No, simply because this is not my usual taste in books. Does it deserve a fair rating? Of course. The author deserves high kudos for talent and the book deserves 3 stars for being well written.
DonnerLibrary on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The Radleys is unlike any vampire book I have ever read. It is a family saga and could be written about many English families, if those families happen to be vampires. It is the relationships within the family that truly matter - between husband and wife, parent and child, between two brothers. It is the discovery of a family secret that changes lives and redirects many paths. The Radleys is nothing like Twilight or True Blood or urban fantasy novels featuring vampires. There is much less action and more introspection. There are moral questions and a strong attempt to blend in to the unblood English society.Told in short chapters with shifting focus, The Radleys is a dark examination of life in English suburbia when keeping the family secret is held more closely than anything else. If you are a fan of all things English and vampires, I highly recommend The Radleys. I found it a delightfully dark change of pace from the other types of vampires stories that seem to be taking over books and movies these days.
alexann on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The Radleys are just a simple family trying to fit in to their suburban English community. Unfortunately, some of their ways are difficult to disguise--especially when Peter's unpredictable brother Will comes for a visit. There's The Abstainer's Handbook to guide them with helpful words such as "If the answer is blood, you are asking the wrong question." But the Handbook isn't enough when young Clara must fight off a rapist.Mom and Dad have a secret that they've not yet told the kids--they are all vampires! No wonder Clara becomes deathly ill when she tries a vegan diet--she must have meat to stay healthy!The vampire family struggling to fit into a normal English suburban community--too funny! The characters are well-developed, the satire is great, the vampire lore throughout (which was almost enough to make a believer of me! Michael Jackson! Jimi Hendrix? Hah!) All the characters grow and change through the week we spend with them, even the terrible next door neighbors!Although the book is ostensibly about marital problems, the children are not vague bystanders, but integral parts of the story. Nicely done, Mr. Haig!
Ronrose1 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The Radleys are a vampire family trying to live a normal life in a small town in England. Well, Peter and his wife Helen haven't actually told their teenage children, Rowan and Clara they are vampires. The sunblock they constantly apply hasn't prevented Rowan from getting severe skin rashes. He is finding it increasingly hard to sleep at night. His sister, Clara has decided to go vegan with predictably dire gastronomic results. Yet, their parents are reluctant to reveal the truth, as they long ago pledged to each other to fight their urges and try to live normal human lives. An assault on Clara by a drunk, overly amorous classmate leads to predictable results, with her first taste of blood. In a panic, Peter calls out to his estranged brother, Will, for help. This could prove to be a major mistake, as Will is a fully practicing, nearly out of control, vampire. This story is an interesting take on the vampire mystique. I found it a bit staid, nothing over the top. The story flows smoothly and is an easy read.
Jubercat on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A novel of suburban angst, about a middle-aged couple, Peter and Helen, who are bored with their tepid existence where one Friday ¿is practically indistinguishable from the last thousand or so.¿ Their two children, high schoolers name Rowan and Clara, are just as unhappy. The difference between this and any other similar novel about suburban boredom is that the Radleys¿and this is not giving anything away¿are vampires. Following the rules in a volume called The Abstainer¿s Handbook they have chosen to live quietly among humans and forego the drinking of human blood. Even their children do not know of their dark heritage, until the night when a drunken school bully tries to force himself on her and she accidentally eviscerates him. Haig¿s clever twist on a old theme is fun and unique, and he manages to quickly dismiss the usual, tired vampire myths like crosses and mirrors, and focuses more on the philosophical problems of how, or even if, a basically abnormal family can quell their instincts in order to live on a quiet little place on Orchard Lane. There are a lot of ethical considerations behind this choice, as the adult Radleys are aware. Is it best for them to deny their instincts in order to live a ¿normal¿ life? Is it possible to be ¿a little bit¿ vampiric without going the whole nine pints¿er¿ yards? The chapters are very short, and I found the author¿s writing style to be just a little bland at times, as if he were trying to mirror Orchard Lane¿s sense of droll order in his writing so that the moments of horror might create the same sense of shock in the reader as they do in the Radley¿s once-insulated world. The Radleys is less a ¿vampire¿ novel than it is a statement about what happens when we repress our true natures.
TheDivineOomba on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I liked it. The vampires in this story are essentially a different brand of human. They aren't undead, but do have an aversion to sunlight. They eat regular food, but without a regular intake of blood, they get sick - a bit like humans who don't eat enough protein. Where this book takes a different take on vampires- is that vampires can survive on vampire blood. Its a nice touch, allowing vampires to live without killing any humans.But, this story isn't really about vampires. If you take the vampires out of the picture, you get a story about a family with an interesting history, trying to live a normal life, a long lost (and unwanted) brother showing up, children who have been lied to (in order to protect, but still), but most of all, a story about repressing who you are and then finding yourself.I'm not sure about the ending - it seemed to story book, but other than that and too convenient.
SyossetReaders on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A fun fictional read about two teenagers finally discovering they belong to a vampire family. Their parents spend years protecting them from their true identities, until their daughter is no longer able to control her "appetites" then the crazy vampire uncle arrives and the secret can no longer stay hidden.
kraaivrouw on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A [fill in the genre] with vampires (or zombies or fallen angels or werewolves or all of the above) has become a norm in current literature. I keep trying to decide what that says about the times, but the best I can come up with is that we're just as obsessed with death and sex as the Victorians (and just as twisted about them, too). The Radleys is a suburban domestic drama with vampires. Think David Lynch's Blue Velvet meets John Updike with a little excursion through Shirley Jackson.Like all angst-ridden novels of suburbia the Radleys are bored with their choices, hiding themselves and their impulses, cheating their children of their real lives. Their marriage is stale, their lives are stale, their neighbors are stale - it's all just a little too bloodless.It is to Matt Haig's great credit that he has a wonderful sense of humor. He understands his setting and its cliches, but by populating it with vampires he both satirizes and cannibalizes it for everything its worth. Terse, thoughtful, witty, and dark - all told a fun read.