So last week I had torn this article out of the Books section of The Ottawa Citizen and meant to write about it sooner. The heading reads: Blood Relations - Forget Twilight and bite into this smart, funny vampire family tale. The book is called The Radleys, named after the family of which it was written.
Home sick this weekend, I was on the couch yesterday and got caught up watching Twilight: New Moon on tv, when I was reminded of the article. This is when my little Kobo comes in handy - I was able to run upstairs, hook it up to the computer and download the book in a minute. By the time I passed out last night in a sudafed/advil coma, I was already half-way through the book!
The Radleys story, so far, is really nothing like Twilight, besides the fact that vampires are living with normal people in a normal community and abstaining from drinking human blood. However, it is an exciting read. The author switches quickly between scenes and characters right from the get-go with chapters as short as two pages, or as long as eleven. It was a little bizarre at first; however, it truly allows you to get into the minds of each family member and almost always leaves you wanting to return to their thoughts and their stories.
Helen and Peter Radley are adult vampires with two teenage children who are unaware of their own true identities. The parents have given up their wild lives of blood sucking to give their children a chance at a normal life in a normal town. The children, Clara and Rowan have always felt anything but normal thanks to their pale skin, aversion to garlic and the fact that all animals growl and run at the site of them! A nasty event has the truth exposed and a new character, uncle Will, introduced. Uncle Will, Peter's brother, is still a practicing, blood-thristy vampire with a history and special connection to Helen...ha ha! Intrigued yet?
Interspersed between chapters are quotations taken from "The Abstainer's Handbook" - a book for vampires who wish to lead normal human lives free of blood-thirst. These quotations always foreshadow the next chapters coming events in such a teasing way. For example: "We have to learn that the things we desire are very often the things which could lead to our own self-destruction." It's so interesting to think about why the quote follows a certain character's chapter and what the implication might be...
As a reader, I feel both intrigued and disgusted by the character of Will, the practicing uncle. He kills with no hesitation and keeps labelled wine bottles full of his victims blood to quench his thirst. The fact that he lives in a sleeper van doesn't increase his appeal; however, he does have a unique ability to "blood-mind" people, meaning that he can make them believe what he is saying. ( you can't help but think of the Volturi here).
You feel for both Clara and Rowan, but mostly for Rowan, the teenage boy who is tormented on a daily basis by his class and bus mates for being pale, weak...a "loser." Rowan is quite the little romantic, is into poetry and old literature and feels like he is living in the wrong century really. He has a huge crush on his sister's best friend Eve. Clara is quite pale as well, but has friends and is the love-interest of a classmate - so at least she has those things going for her. Her biggest problem (until the "event") is the fact that she loves animals and they won't go near her!!! Finally, with Peter and Helen you get the sense right away that there is a lot of regret in the relationship and a lot of unhappiness. You begin to learn, early on, how they came to this point in their lives and feel for them as well.
Wow - I can't believe how much I just wrote when I'm only half-way through. I hope you all get a chance to read it because it's really quite good so far...I'll keep you posted on my final thoughts without divulging too much either!
R Fab xoxo