Top critical review
Clever idea but the story didn't work for me
on 7 February 2016
I thought that the premise of this book was fascinating but its realisation was a bit flat and it left me feeling unsatisfied.
Outwardly the Radleys are an ordinary family (mother, father, son and daughter) living an ordinary life in a small village. Really, however, they are vampires living a life of abstinence and denial although at the start of the book the two children don't know that they are different from normal. When the daughter, Clara, eats a class mate who has been trying to attack her the father, Peter, calls his brother Will to come and help. Will if different from the Radleys - he's a vampire who embraces the lifestyle and is unrepentant about it. Will's coming changes the dynamics of the family, secrets are revealed and they are all faced with new choices.
The vampires in this book don't have many of the traditional issues - for a start, they can breed. They do, however, have the need for blood although they can survive without it. The book presents its characters with this moral dilemma and explores how each of them comes to terms with what they are. It's a world in which vampires are hidden from view although the government knows about them and others suspect.
I really had problems with this book, most especially around the character of Will. I could understand Peter and Helen's desire to fit in and their issues as well as the problems that the children faced but I found Will to be a very unsympathetic and difficult character and, although he represented a different way of living to offer the family as well as significant temptation, I wasn't entirely sure that his character worked well within the story - he seemed too over the top. The middle class lifestyle was well observed especially with the hints of passion and danger underneath. I also liked the extracts from the "Abstainer's Handbook", Overall, however, the story didn't work for me.