“We’re middle-class and we’re British. Repression is in our veins.”

The Radleys live in a village in Yorkshire. They are your typical middle class family, Peter is a doctor, Helen paints inoffensive watercolours, they have a son and a daughter, Rowan and Clara. Rowan feels like a freak at school and is subjected to daily bullying. Clara is quiet and has moved from vegetarian phase to full blown vegan. They have an uncle no one talks about and the kids don’t even know he exists. To the outside world, they just seem a little odd but underneath they are harbouring a dark secret.

If you don’t want to know what their secret is, stop reading now. You may also want to avoid other reviews and marketing bumpf as the synopsis provided by Canongate is pretty clear. I know some people might like working it out for themselves so I’m giving you fair warning…

They keep their curtains closed on summer days, the children are painfully pale and apply sunscreen before school each day and they are pro red meat. One thing that the Radleys don’t do is drink blood, because whilst you may have guessed that they are vampires they abstain.

Before you click away thinking “Oh no, not another vampire book”, The Radleys is not some heady romance or action-packed fantasy yarn. No, these vampires live a fairly ordinary life. Matt Haig’s prose is witty and entertaining. It’s a tale about what happens when you try to be something you’re not.

“Inevitably, if you have abstained all your life, you don’t truly know what you are missing. But the thirst is still there, deep down, underlying everything.

The Abstainer’s Handbook (second edition), p.120”

I haven’t read any other books by Matt Haig but The Radleys has encouraged me to look out for them in future. I like his humour and style.

About the author:

Matt Haig was born in 1975. His debut novel, The Last Family in England, was a UK bestseller. The Dead Fathers Club, an update of Hamlet featuring an eleven year old boy, and The Possession of Mr Cave, a horror story about an overprotective father, are being made into films and have been translated into numerous languages. He is also the author of the award-winning children’s novel Shadow Forest, and its sequel, The Runaway Troll. Matt has lived in London and Spain, and now lives in New York with the writer Andrea Semple and their two children.

The Radleys is currently available in trade paperback and Kindle editions. Whilst Walker Canongate have released it aimed at the young adult market, there will also be a less gothic looking cover on the adult market paperback published by Canongate in July 2011.

Kudos to Canongate for the new cover design and not following the current trend. Though you know me, I like the fence!