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The story really does an excellent job of blending the pithy vampiric dilemma with everyone’s everyday struggles. Peter and Helen could probably love each other more, if they’d just tell their kids the truth about the Radley family history. Instead, Peter contemplates an affair with the lady next door, but is afraid the woman will end up rather more dead than laid, while Helen does her best to repress the fact that she was once in love with Peter’s brother. Peter’s brother, Byronic poetry professor Will, must of course come to town when Peter’s daughter faces a choice between being harmed and doing harm. She goes with her instincts, and as the only member of the family who still prefers to practice the more traditionally murderous lifestyle, Will’s superior strength and skills put him in a unique position to make the evidence go away. Unfortunately, there are more bodies appearing than disappearing. As the Radleys fight to stay one step ahead of their looming alienation from suburban normalcy, they must make some tough decisions about how best to really preserve their family.
Toby Smith fulfills a variety of narration duties here that make for an exciting listen. He conveys both their boredom with the lifestyle they seek to preserve, and their longing for the lifestyle they gave up long ago. Smith manages to preserve the credibility of teenage angst and trauma without spilling over into the lamentations of overemotional schlock. Of course, a certain level of witty sarcasm and morbid humor is expected in a novel of this genre, as well as a particular amount of stylized violence and gleeful gore. Forgive two poor puns, but Matt Haig gets to the meat of the issues that Toby Smith then narrates in a way that keeps our blood pumping. The Radleys is indeed a refreshing break from the usual insipid vampire fare. Megan Volpert
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.
The Radleys is a moving, thrilling, and radiant domestic novel that explores with daring the lengths a parent will go to protect a child, what it costs you to deny your identity, the undeniable appeal of sin, and the everlasting, iridescent bonds of family love. Read it and ask what we grow into when we grow up, and what we gain - and lose - when we deny our appetites.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Lulu on 02-12-18
The Dangers of Trying Too Hard to Fit In
This is my first Matt Haig book. I've read fiction books in the past where it seems obvious that the author had written a perfectly normal book and their editor said "Vampires are popular, add a vampire to your story." So they do, but it adds nothing to the plot and just gets in the way.
This is not a vampire book, although the Radley family are all vampires. The author expertly uses vampirism to make a very human point. This is a book about belonging, finding your place and fitting in. The price some people pay to fit in, to be perceived as normal or regular, the damage that causes and the toll it takes. And it is about the danger of secrets. And finally, it is about accepting what makes you different. There are probably other real physical conditions or disabilities the author could have used to make the same point, but electing to use vampirism as what sets the Radley's apart keeps the story from being maudlin or depressing. The writing is crisp, the plot moves quickly, although the end drags on a bit too long. The characters are well developed, the good people are sympathetic, the bad people are not.
I really enjoyed the occasional quotes from the fictional Book of Abstinence, a guide for Vampires who want to abstain from their true nature. It is patterned off of every 12 step guidebook that has ever been published.
The narration was superb.
I recommend this book.
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