I am not a vampire book kind of girl.

That being said, I did try the Meyer series and will admit I had trouble putting the first novel down once begun.  I took it with me to the beach and read from sun-up till sun-down.  From here on out I will always associate that novel with the most tan I’ve ever been (happiness itself).

I did not like the movies, nor did I finish reading the series.

After my final semester of school ended and I once again had the luxury of picking and choosing which books I wanted to read (as opposed to all of the Norton Anthologies), I tried out Robin McKinley’s vampire novel entitled Sunshine.  My book choice had less to do with the vampire-esque premise than with my undying love for the author.  Ever since I read Beauty I’ve been hooked on McKinley.  

I still love Beauty best, but Sunshine is certainly a refreshing take on vampire literature.  Although it has its fair share of sensual moments, the book itself is far from a romance novel.  It feels less like a fairy tale and more like science fiction, focusing primarily on survival rather than a possible love story between human and vampire (in fact, I’m not entirely certain there was one).

Sunshine is set in an alternate universe, a world which is populated not only by humans but also vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, and demons (collectively referred to as the “Others”).   In fact, McKinley spends so much time developing the setting that the plot feels a bit slow.  It’s definitely not a page-turner.  She does, however, manage to create several lovable characters, not to mention the refreshingly humorous and self-deprecating thought-life of the heroine herself, Rae Seddon.  

Rae, who goes by the nickname Sunshine, is a young pastry chef who has led a relatively ordinary life, aside from her mysterious background as the daughter of a notorious sorcerer.  She lives alone and spends the majority of her time working at a coffeehouse and reading novels about the Others to add excitement to her life.

Until she meets them herself.

After choosing to spend a risky evening alone at the lake, Sunshine is abducted by a vampire gang.  Unlike most other victims, she is kept alive to be used as a pawn in a battle of will.  She wakes up to find herself held hostage in an abandoned mansion along with a fellow captive – Constantine, a vampire who is chained to the wall.

By sheer stroke of luck (ahem, penmanship and imagination), Sunshine recalls how her grandmother taught her to transmute small objects as a child.  Her power enables her to escape – but not without the help of Con.  From that day forward, Sunshine and Con are bound together in a desperate attempt to destroy Bo, the angered master of the vampire gang from which they escaped, and to avoid the Special Other Forces (or human police, if you will), who turn out to be a corrupt organization in and of themselves . . . But you’ll have to read it yourself to see what happens next, because I refuse to give away the ending.

My Take: I'm on the fence about this one.   The plot felt unfocused, the setting overwhelmingly detailed, and the romance indecisive.  On the other hand, I loved the first-person narrative and would probably read it again just for Sunshine's quirky sense of humor.  Also, I'm absurdly fond of privately-owned cafes - so any book that harps on coffee and muffins is going to keep me hooked on some level or another.  Win some, lose some, right?


  1. I too am not a huge fan of vampire fiction, but I may have to pick up this book from McKinley. Maybe I'll read "Beauty" first, though. :)

    And I too have read almost ALL of the freakin Norton Anthologies. They're all staring at me from the bookcase as I type, in fact. Lol.

  2. ME TOO! Staring me down, worn covers and highlighted pages all!

    Those were some of the worst and best hours of my life. . . give or take a few headaches.

  3. PS You must read Beauty! Must, must. It is hands down one of the best books I've ever read.

  4. Sounds interesting.
    I have a table with 5 books on it that I plan to read that are all from the library. Its finding the time to read them that i need. Think im going to look into the book Beauty ladaisi suggested

  5. Hahaha...I love that the cafe with coffee and muffins was a hook for you. I can totally relate :-).

  6. Ooh, nice job! Good sum-up. That was basically my feel when I read it (not as well worded, of course) -- and my main reason for loaning it to you: the bakery was just so warm and inviting. It was sort of like recommending a restaurant with the caveat that the staff are peculiar, and the location dingy, but the food is great.

    I sort of felt like it should have had a sequel to finish it off.

  7. Yes, me too.

    Steph borrowed it, and then Sarah wants it. So I doubt you'll get it back this side of heaven.

  8. It's always nice to run across another Robin McKinley fan! I too think Beauty is her best book, but The Blue Sword & The Hero and the Crown are also fabulous. I'm looking forward to reading her new one on Pegasus.


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