I finished this book wanting more – it’s an entertaining and thoughtful read which creates a world so vivid and unusual that it won’t let go. The Radleys are a family of abstaining vampires – at least, Mum and Dad are but their two children are unaware of their real natures and remain so until the untimely arrival of Uncle Will, who takes great and determined pleasure in trying to destroy the carefully respectable but unbearably dull facade that Peter and Helen have constructed to protect themselves, their children and the outside world: ‘That same old timid tea-dance of human existence.’
The joy of this novel is its ability to tackle problems at the heart of many people’s lives – bullying, lost love, infidelity, non-conformity – through the medium of a genre so wholeheartedly in vogue. The narrative is both wide-ranging and rich – no attempt to merely push the right literary buttons and wait for the standard response here! The idiosyncrasies of the writing match their subject matter yet illuminate so much about the human condition.
There is a good deal of off-beat humour and an enormous amount of irreverence about the conformity which society sometimes foolishly (if necessarily) holds in such high esteem.
There is also a good deal of adult content – in word and deed – which makes this book more suitable for older readers and for adults. It’s a place where we can all look through a mirror which Haig offers for the examination of the Radleys’ eccentric lives – and our own. A must-read.