The Radleys – a bloody good read
The Radleys saved my book loving soul. Frustrated with stories that were less than compelling over this last month I finally picked up The Radleys, a novel that had been seducing me for some time now. A vampire novel? Who wants to read another bad vampire novel? No one can write vampire’s better than Anne Rice (in my sweet opinion). But author Matt Haig does a mighty fine job and I am glad to say this novel has broken my dry spell of boring books. I have been converted and am ready to sink my teeth into more stories from the mind of Mr. Haig.
First off, I want to say how much I appreciate the author’s ability to present a vampire story in yet another unique way, one that was unexpected and refreshing. There are many vampire stories out there and I’ve been a fan of the vampire concept since my teens. But since Anne Rice I have not found any stories centred on vampires that were…well…good. I’ve been constantly disappointed that no one has been able to present anything new since her (again, all my honey drizzled opinion). I don’t want vampires who are tortured and brooding, who sparkle, who are sex crazed or who are violent monsters and nothing else – boring! I want something new, something smart, something different. And Matt Haig delivers.
The Radleys are the family next door. You know, the ones who keep to themselves for the most part, who seem kind of odd but despite that oddness, you brush that weird feeling away. The feeling that makes you a little uncomfortable in their presence and whether or not you should even be talking to them. Peter and Helen Radley are vampires and they have two vampire children, Rowan and Clara. This white picket family does everything they can to fit in and be normal but it is the slow, painful undoing of their perfect family lie that makes this book so hard to put down. Tension weaves itself through every page that you don’t even realize your neck is sore from straining forward with each word until the book is done. (Massage therapist, here I come.)
I would love to get into more of the story but I really don’t want to ruin the dark fun for anyone who plans on reading it. It is enough to note that the Radley family is extremely likeable for all their flaws and lies. They are my family and your family and entertainment value aside, it is a great commentary on the unneccessary lies that families hold on to in order to get by. The Radleys remind us that though we think we are doing right by unwilling to look at our past we are actually unmaking our future. This is literally what happens as you read the story, you become a witness to their unmaking. However, the Radleys also confirm in us that we can break the chain of mistakes that families make over and over again, the mistakes that repeat in every new generation. We have the power to discard the layer of lies and deceit and be true to who we really are. We don’t have to try so hard to fit in for let’s face it, every family is weird beyond imagination and we all have our oddities. Truth is the hardest thing to face but once we do, we are free from expectations and from pain.
But who cares! Sure, give yourself a moment, like I did, to contemplate these deep thoughts and meditate on your own life. But then give your head a shake and gleefully dive back into this engaging and enticing story! It’s just too fun a read, as dark and awkward as it is.
To be objective, there were a few scenes in this story that moved way too fast. I would have loved to have had these moments drawn out a little more like the way Will, the uncle no family would want, draws out the blood of his victims. The climactic confrontation near the end had begun my heart pounding but didn’t last long enough to get the blood going so I was a tad disappointed in that. Especially since it is such a charged, violent moment between father and son (you can get deep and meaningful with this scene, you know, throwing out the sins of the father…..). But alas, I fear I may have given too much away already!
Go, go read this book before I can control myself no longer and reveal everything!
Well done Mr. Haig, you have presented a unique vampire story. A feat that I wasn’t sure could be done again.
Posted on September 22, 2012, in Book Reviews and tagged anne rice, book review, books, deceipt, entertainment, family issues, matt haig, the radleys, vampires. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.