The Radleys by Matt Haig

The Radleys

I haven’t had any success with vampire related entertainment in the past and so avoided this book for a long time. Even when people with similar aversions started to rave about it I ignored them – there was no way I’d be convinced to try another disappointing vampire book. But slowly the positive reviews started to mount and I became increasingly curious about this book. I wasn’t convinced enough to buy a copy, but when I spotted it in my local library I couldn’t resist reading the first page – if only to confirm my belief that it would be terrible. I’m almost sad to admit that my 100% failure with vampires is over. I fell in love with this book from the very beginning and enjoyed this fast paced, entertaining romp all the way to the end.

The Radleys is set in a small Yorkshire town and focuses on one family who are desperately trying to live a normal life. The problem is that they are vampires with an almost uncontrollable urge to drink blood. I admit that the premise sounds just like any other vampire book, but this one is different in that it is almost a satire of the others. It doesn’t try to scare you, but entertains with witty observations about British life and realistic descriptions of the relationships between different family members.   

The blood drinking can also be taking for a metaphor for almost any desire that we have trouble controlling. A book about giving up smoking wouldn’t have been as interesting, but the lessons about impulse control are just as relevant.

The Radleys is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a lighter read. It is an original idea that has been cleverly executed. Recommended.


The thoughts of other bloggers:

(I couldn’t find a negative review)

The writing is funny and the story is so real! Leeswammes Blog

Some of the cultural references feel quite UK-focused, so I hope that doesn’t impact how it translates elsewhere. Novel Insights

…. a great pleasure to read. Follow the Thread

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  1. Nice review, Jackie! I’m so glad you enjoyed this … I knew you would!

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, I really should listen to you more! I normally trust your advice, but when vampires are mentioned I run in the opposite direction. Next time I’ll do whatever you suggest!

  2. S. Krishna says:

    I’ve heard such great things about this book, and I’m really impressed it broke your vampire novel hating streak! I have it and will have to pick it up soon.

    1. Jackie says:

      S. Krishna, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. I look forward to reading your review.

  3. Annabel says:

    I adored this book too. I loved how puberty got in the way for the teetotal parents’ offspring, and the reappearance of the black sheep of the family too. The vampirism was really a metaphor for all of our vices.

    I’d also recommend Haig’s The last family in England which is very sad, but also extremely funny about a disintegrating family as seen by the family Labrador.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, Yes – there was so much to enjoy in this book. I loved the way all the characters were flawed and battling against their inner desires. Such a clever idea! I will be ensuring I read more of his books and The Last Family in England sounds like my sort of thing so I’ll probably start there. Thanks for the recommendation!

  4. Steph says:

    Ha ha! I had a similar “disappointment” when I read Ann Patchett’s newest novel. I was so certain I would not like it, that part of me was sad to find that I really did!

    I feel ambivalent about vampires – they certainly won’t make me read a novel, but I won’t necessarily avoid a book because they feature either. And I admit that back in the day, I was a HUGE Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan! I do have a copy of this book and after reading Teresa’s review of it a while back, I did think it sounded like a fun romp that I would enjoy. Glad to hear that you no longer think vampires unequivocally suck! ;)

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, My husband is a huge Buffy fan, but I’ve never seen the appeal. I’m stil going to tread cautiously around vampire books, but it is good to know that these barriers can be broken by the right book. I have a feeling that you’ll love this one.

      I’m also hoping that I’ll enjoy State of Wonder, although the hype for that book is getting HUGE! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I’ll love it as much as you did.

  5. Ellie says:

    It must be a good sign that you couldn’t find a negative review! I really enjoyed it and even though I do read urban fantasy, I agree there’s some absolute rubbish in that genre. Matt’s writing is very witty and British and I’m keeping my eye out for his other books.

    My book group is reading it at the moment and I was all “be careful of spoilers” but it seems everyone’s now stating it’s vampires from the get go. I think it would be interesting to read it without knowing what it’s about as I don’t think it’s mentioned for quite a while into the book.

    1. Jackie says:

      Ellie, You raise a good point about the spoilers. I knew about the vampires before I started reading, but I thought it was obviously a vampire book from the beginning. I agree that it wasn’t mentioned, but the hints were so strong that I thought it was hard to miss. Perhaps that was because I already knew though? I hate spoilers so haven’t mentioned anything about the plot, but I really hope people don’t have the book spoiled by knowing about the blood sucking in advance :-(

  6. Jessica says:

    oh I love vampire stuff so this one will certainly be added to the list – I’ll check it out with the library

    1. Jackie says:

      Jessica, This is the perfect summer read – enjoy :-)

  7. I’m suffering from vampire-fatigue, but recently noticed I have still 2 books on the TBR that deal with them. The Historian seems to escape the cliches, from what I’ve heard.

    I’ll keep this one in mind – I might pick it up after the twilight craze dies down.

    1. Jackie says:

      Alex, I forgot all about The Historian – I enjoyed that one too! I’m realising that it isn’t the subject matter, but the way it is handled. Perhaps I’ll find another enjoyable vampire book soon. :-)

    1. Jackie says:

      CuriousBookFan, It isn’t normal to find a book that everyone enjoys. I’m sure the negative reviews will start creeping out soon, but for now we can all celebrate a wonderfully entertaining book!

  8. Amy says:

    I first read about this book on leeswammes’ blog and almost didn’t read her review because of the vampire subject matter. Fortunately, I read her post and then I put this book on my TBR list with a note of warning. Your review has convinced me, though, that this is a book worth reading – it sounds like a good choice for an interesting, lighter read!

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, Judith was one of the biggest reasins I read this book. I normally trust her advice without question, but vampires?! Next time I’ll listen to her straight away!

  9. I have one of Haig’s previous novels and remember liking it but was disappointed when I heard his latest one was a vampire novel – “Give me strength” I wailed! Like you the pressure is now mounting as I have read nothing but positive reviews. Like you I will pick it up when I see it in my local library – can you tell I really don’t want to be unconvinced ha ha!

    1. Jackie says:

      Samantha, I hope that you find yourself as won over as I was. I’m also looking forward to reading his older books. I hope I like them as much as this one.

  10. Dot says:

    I really like the sound of this one, seems to be quite a popular read!

    1. Jackie says:

      Dot, I think this is one of those books that will get even more popular with time. Word-of-mouth is going to have a big effect on the sales of this one – I know I’ll be recommending it to a wide variety of people :-)

  11. sakura says:

    I love books about vampires but I think I oversaturated myself a few years ago. However I think I’m ready to crawl back into it and I’ve seen so many reviews about this one, the main thing being that most readers didn’t expect to enjoy it so much. Sold!

    1. Jackie says:

      sakura, If you normally love vampire books then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by this one. Enjoy :-)

  12. Robbie says:

    I’m surprised to find this among your reviews Jackie! I’m like you when it comes to vampires and zombies, just not interested. If you liked it that much, well, maybe that will be persuasion enough for me to give it a go.

    1. Jackie says:

      Robbie, I didn’t think you’d find this on my blog either! Just shows the benefit of trying things outside your comfort zone. Hope you enjoy it if you decide to give it a try.

      1. If I may be so bold: I do think this book is well in our comfort zone – just don’t stare yourself dead on the word “vampire”. It’s a story about a normal English family in a normal English town – until you find out they’re vampires. But even then, they are perfectly polite and try not to upset the neighbours.

        1. Jackie says:

          Well put! I just put anything with the word “vampire” straight off my TBR and so I feel it is out of my comfort zone, even if it turns out not to be. :-)

  13. David Dewey says:

    Your views would be most welcome on the ‘The TV Book Club Facebook site.
    The TV Book Clubbers spin off site:

    1. Jackie says:

      David, OK. I’ll investigate when I have a bit of spare time.

  14. I’ve just finished this – yet to write a review. I have to admit, the more I reflect on it, the more I feel it was entirely unexceptional. Neat, tidy, light, but unsatisfying. Not a bad beach read, but I can think of better things to pack for a holiday.

    1. Jackie says:

      Matthew, In many ways I agree with you. It doesn’t have much substance beneath the basic story, but I thought it was very entertaining and I couldn’t fault the engaging, clever plot. I think it is the perfect beach read and will recommend it to a wide variety of people. It isn’t a book that will stand the test of time, but I’d be very happy if I’d packed it on my holiday this year. I look forward to reading your review – hopefully you’ll make me see things from a slightly different perspective. :-)

      1. I’d agree. It was a fun book, and I’m not a big vampire lit. reader anyway. I think for the beach it’s okay, but so insubstantial I wouldn’t like to recommend it too heavily. Frothy fun, but nothing special. Incidentally, I written my review now. Feel free to drop by and rip my arguments to shred :)

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