Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Posted by Cobalt | Posted in , , | Posted on 7:07 AM

Rating: 5 / 5 stars (plus ETERNAL LOVE)

First: why has EVERYONE not read this book? I am aghast and outraged and saddened and deeply shamed.

So this isn't going to be a review so much as a giant incoherent mess of READ THIS NOW PLEASE K?

Because Sunshine is pure awesome. It is the kind of awesome where you are consciously reading slower, dragging your feet so that it can all last longer and getting all panicky and weepy at the sight of dwindling pages to-be-read even as you cannot stop reading.

This is what a vampire-fantasy-YAish novel should be. I would advocate it as the cure for Twilight Madness, but I fear if hardcore Twilight fans read it it would blow their minds.

I hardly even know how to introduce this without babbling on forever -- our heroine is Sunshine, nicknamed not for a sunny disposition but rather her odd affinity for daylight. She is baker at Charlie's Coffeehouse, which is more of a giant family gathering than anything, what with her mother marrying Charlie and her two stepbrothers always stealing the cinnamon rolls and her tattooed-yet-mellow boyfriend Mel working as the cook. But this isn't some idealist fantasy of small town life -- baking is brutal work, getting up at ungodly hours and pounding dough into submission in a blazing kitchen and everyone running like mad and the customers streaming in and out and then oh god the tour buses...

So it's understandable that Sunshine needs a break once in a while. So she drives out to the lake one night -- and the vampires grab her. Dammit.

They give her a cranberry formal dress, and drag her to a grand deserted house in the moonlight, and chain her in the ballroom with another vampire....who is also chained to the wall. But within easy arm's reach.

What the hell?

This will take your assumptions about vampires, about supernatural romance, about pretty much everything in this 'genre' and flip them all sorts of ways. McKinley's worldbuilding is masterly and lush and detailed without turning to overload, and oh would you just read this already?


You need to read it for Sunshine, most of all -- a cranky, sarcastic, brilliant heroine who thinks of herself as a coward but has more backbone than Rambo in everything that matters. I love how she describes the world, this almost-rambling style that has so much fun with words without showing off, and she's so perceptive that we get to pick up on all the rich nuances of the people and the world around her, too. By the end of the book, I wasn't just in love with Sunshine -- I loved everyone she loved, I loved her work, I loved her entire life and how she was living it. Not even in the wish-I-had-it way (4 am wake up call, no thanks) but just how right it felt for her even in all the complicated mess of it.

Plus? I cannot even say how much I love the human-vampire interaction. FINALLY, we have a Girl-Meets-Otherworldly Creature of Darkness story where the heroine's first reaction isn't "Hot damn!" but "YEAEAACCHH!"
Because, you know, DEAD and EVIL and WRONG and WANTS TO EAT ME equals GET AWAY NOW, not 'Come and get it!'

And our vampire is fantastic too -- Con is not human and so he thinks differently about the world and he's been around for a long time, so we get a character who is truly alien -- not just some angst-ridden Byronic hero with a complexion issue.

And these characters grow through their interactions with each other and the awful, impossible choices they are making and that is also why you will fall in love. Because the Sunshine you meet in the beginning is not the same Sunshine at the end, and you've been with her the whole way and you're changed, too.

I need to stop. Please just read this book. Please. I'll even leave you with a link to an excerpt.

Have fun!

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