Sep 15, 2008

Sunshine

by Robin McKinley

This is the first vampire story I've ever read. I'm not big into horror or romance, so what appears typical in the vampire genre just never appealed to me. But McKinley is one of my favorite authors, and I heard this isn't your usual vampire tale. It's set in a world very like our own, only steeped in "all the mangling and malevolent kinds" of magic. Demons, werewolves, succubi, etc. The vampires are the worst, the most deadly. Society has all kinds of laws and protections against them. Most people try to stay safe, and turn a blind eye. Including Sunshine. She's a baker in a coffehouse, with a nice, ex-biker boyfriend and an eccentric old landlady. She doesn't know that magic blood is in her veins- from her missing father's side of the family. One day she drives out to an abandoned cabin on the lake for some alone time. Where she gets caught by a gang of vampires, then locked up with another vampire the gang is holding captive. Incredibly, he doesn't eat her. More incredibly, when she manages to escape, she takes him with her. And finds that in saving the vampire's life, a bond has been created between them- one which draws them together more and more, until Sunshine is pitched into a battle against evil, using abilities she never knew she had, feeling that not only are her loyalties divided, but that "they had hacked me in two and were disappearing over the horizon in different directions."

Throughout the book, Sunshine struggles to accept what she is learning about herself, and to come to terms with the unlikely alliance she has struck with one of mankind's deadliest enemies. The intricate details of the urban fantasy world McKinley created in Sunshine kept me riveted. I really liked the juxtaposition of magic and technology, and the contrast of the two main characters- one who embodied light, the other darkness. How they found themselves working together, when by nature they would be totally repelled by each other. I'm glad the author explained a lot of vampire lore, because I'm unfamiliar with most of it, and don't know how much is her own spin on things. So now I'm tempted to go read the original Bram Stoker Dracula, just to see where it all started.

Rating: 4/5                 389 pages, 2003

8 comments:

Lezlie said...

Interesting. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for this one!

Lezlie

Nymeth said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it! I've seen some very mixed reviews of this one. It will probably not be my next McKinley, but I'll get to it someday.

I look forward to seeing what you think of Dracula if you do pick it up.

Jena said...

I read this when it first came out (McKinley's one of my faves, too), and I thought it was a different kind of vampire tale--and I tend to like vampire stories. Except the Twilight series. Anyway, re: Dracula--it's a very slow read. I took it on when I was 16 (had to start it twice, 'cause it was hard to get into). If you're not into vampire lore, I don't think I'd recommend Dracula. Maybe an abridged version, or maybe there's a manga/comic book version of the book... (if there's not there really should be). I'm not usually one to direct people away from "classics," but...

Jeane said...

Well, I have read through (and even enjoyed) unabridged versions of Moby Dick, Don Quixote and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I'm no stranger to long, heavy books. But Les Miserables almost did me in. And anything Dickens is tough for me- I just can't get past the slow beginnings. So I will have to consider Dracula carefully. I've never read any manga or graphic novels, except Maus, so I don't know if I'd go that route. Thanks for the weigh-in, Jena.

Trish said...

I'm not big on vampires but I keep hearing such fantastic things about McKinley. I've got a few others on my list and I'll have to add it. I haven't read Dracula either--for some reason it really intimidates me. :)

Cath said...

Sunshine is one of my favourite vampire books - along with Dracula and The Historian. I'd love it if McKinley would write a sequel but I gather even she doesn't know if she will. Fingers crossed.

Jace said...

I read McKinley's Beauty and fell in love with her writing. :-) Ran out and bought Spindle's End, which is sitting in my TBR. Can you tell that I love fairytales? LOL

Thanks for your thoughts on Sunshine. I've been wondering about this book, and some negative reviews made me wondered some more. :-) I've read a lot of vampire stories (of the romance-paranormal genre) so I'm quite jaded at this point. But I love McKinley's writing and sense of humour so I'll think seriously about this one. :-)

Jeane said...

What have the negative reviews said? You're the second person to mention this book has gotten mixed responses, but I haven't read any reviews that reflected poorly on it. I'm curious what the criticism was.