Matt Haig’s The Radleys isn’t the typical vampire novel. Being vampires is really just the thing that sets up the Radley family for being different; it could’ve just as easily been race, religion, or economic status. Yet those are things parents wouldn’t be able to keep from their children whereas the Radley parents had kept their teenage children in the dark about being vampires. The children simply believed they had some condition that caused sun sensitivity and an aversion to garlic. How can they not notice a need for blood? Well, that’s because Haig has created a different vampire mythology. Here, vampires are able to abstain, which the Radleys do. But when Clara turns vegan and then is assaulted by a schoolmate, her natural tendency comes out and the truth is revealed.
Beyond the vampire secret, there are more kept by the Radley parents. All are easily predicted. There are some good lines (my favorite is something Uncle Will says to Rowan: “’Vampire? Such a provocative word, wrapped in too many clichés and girly novels. But, yes, afraid I am. A fully functioning vampire.”’) and funny scenes, but little else sets this book apart from any other of the numerous family dramas that have come before it.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Free Press.