Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Radleys

Title: The Radleys

Author: Matt Haig

Number of pages: 352

Started: 6 September 2011

Finished: 10 September 2011

Opening words:

17 Orchard Lane

It is a quiet place, especially at night.

Too quiet, you’d be entitled to think, for any kind of monster to live among its pretty, tree-shaded lanes.

Indeed, at three o’clock in the morning in the village of Bishopthorpe, it is easy to believe the lie indulged in by its residents – that it is a place for good and quiet people to live good and quiet lives.

At this hour, the only sounds to be heard are those made by nature itself. The hoot of an owl, the faraway bark of a dog or, on a breezy night like this one, the wind’s obscure whisper through the sycamore trees. Even if you stood on the main street, right outside the fancy-dress shop or the pub or the Hungry Gannet delicatessen, you wouldn’t often hear any traffic, or be able to see the abusive graffiti that decorates the former post office (though the word freak might just be legible if you strain your eyes).

Away from the main street, on somewhere like Orchard Lane, if you took a nocturnal stroll past the detached period homes lived in by solicitors and doctors and project managers, you would find all their lights off and curtains drawn, secluding them from the night. Or you would until you reached number 17, where you’d notice the glow from an upstairs window filtering through the curtains.

Read the first chapter here

Plot summary:

Life with the Radleys: Radio 4, dinner parties with the Bishopthorpe neighbours and self-denial. Loads of self-denial. But all hell is about to break loose. When teenage daughter Clara gets attacked on the way home from a party, she and her brother Rowan finally discover why they can't sleep, can't eat a Thai salad without fear of asphyxiation and can't go outside unless they're smothered in Factor 50. With a visit from their lethally louche uncle Will and an increasingly suspicious police force, life in Bishopthorpe is about to change. Drastically.

What I thought:

I am not really into vampiric tales or books of that genre, but this book was a pleasant surprise. Very readable, darker in places that I had expected and a welcome change in tone from a number of the books I have read of late. I had wondered if this book might be aimed at teenagers, but I don’t think that was the case – and I am not sure that I would necessarily recommend giving the book to a teenager either.

In many ways it was a rather light read, but it definitely had its darker side. The book ended by indicating that there was more still to come. Would I read the next book? I’m not sure I would rush out to get it, but might welcome it as an undemanding diversion at some point.

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