Here is a useful tip, should you ever find yourself face to face with a vampire they are living corpses that eat people They are not sun sparkling, abstinent forever teens Staying inside all day and being forced to personally kill all of your food doesn t bode well for your mental health not to mention the fact that you have been alive so long, you ve had to re buy all your Beatles albums in like five different formats.Robin McKinley gets this the way Stephanie Meyer or even, sometimes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, don t generally, it is safe to say, vampires aren t creatures whose pictures you want to pin up in your locker Yes, authors can rewrite the rules of vampirism all they want to make them easy to romanticize I have a soul Oh yeah We ll I m vegetarian , but it all still comes down to A creatures of the night B part of a race that, by and large, views humans as walking ketchup dispensers C unflattering complexions In Sunshine, the vampires are gross They look like what they are, which is, if you will remember, dead They are also rightly feared by the populace, but that might have to do with the role they played in the vaguely defined Voodoo Wars that ravaged society some years before, to the point where what seems like a pretty nondescript small city is now the eighth largest remaining population in the U.S In short, vampires not very nice.And yet, there s always the special one But if Sunshine not her real name, thankfully can be the Buffy who befriends a vampire, at least she is a total screw up in every other way and I mean of a screw up than just that she pretends to trip on things and makes too many boys fall in love with her She gives her mom hell She barely graduated from high school She dates a guy with too many tattoos She s kind of a bitch She s flawed, and fun to read about, which is important, because she s our narrator But she is special, with an unknown magical heritage that saves her ass when she s kidnapped by bloodsuckers and chained up in a room with one of them This turns out to be Constantine, who is that Special Vampire who doesn t eat people, but at least he s still pretty disgusting, as romantic heroes go The no heartbeat thing would get pretty weird Also the bathing in his blood, but that comes later.In many ways, this is a Twilight y book, and you can see why the publisher decided to repackage it in a sparkly teen edition, even though it is about adult characters who actually screw instead of lying in fields and gazing longingly at one another There s a special girl There s a vampire There is a little bit of romance though Sunshine has the good sense to be freaked out about it, and, at least, never describes anyone s beautiful chest Also in both books nothing happens for long stretches of time, only to rush through an action packed climax in just a few pages Oh, I forgot, both also involve scenes of googling and message board reading, which still isn t all that interesting The difference is that Robin McKinley can write, and instead of filling her pages with repetition and day to day mundanities new word , she creates a fun cast of supporting characters at the bakery where Sunshine works I could almost write an entire separate review about the role baking plays in this book, but I didn t want to make anyone hungry and puts real thought into the way you might react to a traumatic experience like almost being eaten Like, you might throw yourself back into your work mmm, cinnamon rolls even as you struggled to cope with the fallout, alienating your friends and loved ones in the bargain This is a really entertaining book that slowed down just a little too much in the middle for me, but it is much, much better than a phrase like vampire romance might imply In a parallel dimension, this book is the famous one, and Stephanie Meyer, bless her heart, is selling her books to Kindle owners on , because writing is a nice little hobby but why do it full time when you are so bad at it Man, I really didn t mean to rag on Twilight so much Sorry about that Oh, p.s to Karen sorry for failing at that whole tandem review thing We can just pretend I wrote this a week ago. I ve seen Robin McKinley accused of having only one plot variations on Beauty and the Beast This kind of reductionism, of course, can be extended to just about any story Some of us over a certain age even used to have test questions on this in Tenth Grade Literature What is the plot of this book A Man vs Man, B Man vs Nature, C Man vs.Universe Perhaps this one can be further reduced to Woman Gains Choice, and we first encounter it in Jane Austen s Pride and Prejudice, written in the early 1800s, wherein a female makes the choice concerning her future life and doesn t have to pay the price for such temerity by promptly dying of consumption What it means is that woman gains power over her own life, and it s a trope women and men have been exploring in various story forms such as Beauty and the Beast McKinley looks at this story form from several angles Anyone who thinks her stories cookie cutter have not paid attention The Blue Sword is probably the most conventional Deerskin is not at all conventional This story has to do with vampires.I ve heard people talking about how sick they are of vampire stories, that they are stale, nothing new to be said, and of course vampires, like elves and dragons and horses , have been tamed down by many writers into being very pretty forms of humans, pretty, powerful, but with very human usually mapping heavily onto middle teen adolescence emotions.Well, McKinley teases apart the threads of this familiar tapestry and reweaves them into a very strange form.The story begins with our first person protagonist describing her pleasant but claustrophobic life as the baker for a roadside diner that is very popular in her small town We gain the impression of ordinary folk of the type we recognize in our own lives, an ordinary diner, an ordinary small town Exactly when the reader feels as closed in by all these cheery, well intentioned ordinariness as does the protagonist, she takes off to be by herself to the lakeside, which, we are told, is not popular any since the Voodoo Wars.The Voodoo Wars We ve had, so far, exactly one other hint that things are not quite as ordinary as they appear when the protagonist mentions that one of her very normal brothers wants to go into Other law Well, other is easily assumed to be on the side of the downtrodden, and on goes the story Voodoo Wars catches the eye but the story still marches on a few paragraphs, and then, abruptly, while she s at the lakeside, the vampires come This is page 12.I had to look back at that beginning to really appreciate the mastery of McKinley s story telling skills Twelve pages of ordinariness, and a cliff hanger, after which she pauses to tell us that the worst of the Others are vampires Okay then this is our world, but with vampires No, wait, there s just this tiny mention of demons But the story flashes on, and the protagonist is taken by vampires to a disintegrating ballroom, forced to dress in an extravagant crimson gown, and shackled to the wall within reach of another vampire Who is also shackled to the wall Then they leave, giggling.The story takes off like a rocket from there we find out the protagonist s name after we find out about the power of names, we find out about vampires, and the Voodoo Wars, and the protagonist s background Boundaries are broken over and over, and the reader, along with the characters, has to struggle to redefine them The ordinary roadside inn with its ordinary characters turns out to be an anchor of relative safety in an increasingly strange and dangerous world This is not our world It s even threatening, perilous, but there are ways to fight it Each ones exacts its cost there are no wish fulfillment mega powers gained just by suffering winsomely enough Power has to be fought for, inwardly and outwardly, it rips apart lives and requires dispassionate remapping of one s universal landscape And using power is painful, just as a real punch bruises the attacker as well as the victim.Along the way McKinley examines families, love, romance, sexual attraction, morality, ethics, deception, the social contract, eschatology, the perils of responsibility Absolutely nothing is easy except, perhaps, the sharing of food.McKinley s vampire is not pretty, does not react with adolescent emotion he is compelling, and a fascinating study in how human can become alien, yet retain a conflicted nexus of human traits The ending is not neatly tied off, but is breathtaking with possibility I sure hope she returns to this world There is so much to explore and to say and I really want to know about the spinster landlady, who was my favorite character of all. Sunshine is definitely worthwhile if you like vampire lit, though this is a bit of an odd one This urban fantasy novel starts with a bang, one of my favorite beginnings in a fantasy novel Rae Sunshine Seddon is kidnapped by a gang of vampires, chained to the wall in an abandoned, isolated mansion, and left as a victim for another vampire, Constantine, who is also chained up nearby the gang even cuts Sunshine so the blood will make her harder for Constantine to resist But resist he does, even as daylight comes, though it s a near thing, and they know the vampire gang will be returning when night falls Then Sunshine begins to remember some near forgotten magical skills taught her many years ago by her grandmother It s a game changer but her odd and very secret alliance with Constantine may also bring Sunshine into situations where she s faced with dangers she s never known before I knew nothing about this book when I bought it this was back in the day when I was auto buying everything Robin McKinley wrote, a time that has now, sadly, ended for me as her stuff s gotten progressively weirder over the years But this one is only semi weird, and definitely worth reading if you re interested in vampires and urban fantasy, except without the smokin hot sexy vampire Okay, there is a rather sexy scene, and Constantine the vampire is a very cool character but also, undeniably, vampirish, in a not really sexy kind of way.I loved what McKinley did with the main character and her magically gifted family and with vampire lore in this novel I just wished she d dug a little deeper into the world building and the family history And there is as typical with McKinley one of those murky, bizarre nightmarish scenes where you re not sure exactly what s going on except that it s highly strange The story doesn t wrap up with a nice bow either, which left many fans hoping, in vain, for McKinley to write a sequel or at least another book in this world But there are at least parts of this story that are truly fantastic the first few chapters are AMAZING and shouldn t be missed At least if you re interested in vampire lit. This was a very welcome surprise coming out of my dire expectations I mean, a vampire romance Seriously Another Well stop scratching your head and stop moving on to another title This happens to be one of the good ones There are lots of elements that you ve seen before, I m sure, but it s all in how its written McKinley has been writing all kinds of fantasy for over thirty years She knows how to accomplish a lot in relatively no time at all.Gorgeous world building and a populace that will soon be overrun by vampires Part demons and sorcerers waging wars against them The elemental mastery of the magic is amazing Sunshine This isn t just a nickname When these little bits and pieces started unfolding out of the normal bakery life and a nasty kidnapping, I kept thinking to myself well, isn t this just another setup for a romance Yes BUT McKinley never stints on complicated and interesting plots that kept me going all the way through It kind of stunned me just how deep and complex this novel became out of my initial observation And it s not just the characters, either The kinds of races, the kinds of magic, the twists and the turns, all of them were added like spice to the novel and it kind of blew me away.I ve read a lot of mediocre vamp novels I ve read a few excellent ones This one fooled me on it s premise and it s opening It turned into an excellent one So what about shelves that call it YA Why didn t I also do the same Because she s apparently a quarter of a century old Long out of HS and working happily in a bakery That might be called a tiny tiny sliver of the new adult market, but there s a LOT of dark stuff going on here with complicated emotions and reactions It s definitely not simple and its often beautifully adult I completely recommend for fans of better vampire novels Even ones that feature romance Edit 12 6 16 It has been brought to my attention that I should clarify what kind of romance this is It s not Eros It s Philia That s the greek term for ppl you d trust your life for in battle Deep friendships Ultimate trust These two share a lot than just that Psychic bonds, the ability to pull one another from the brink even out of outright battle, and he even gives her a wondrous magical item that allows her access to his sanctum of sanctums That s a level of trust unheard of in a world where all vampires know that they can t trust each other, let alone any other kind of person So I call it romance in the traditional sense A huge step up from a buddy novel, too. I didn t know much about this book going in vampires and cinnamon rolls that was about it Therefore, I, of course, was quite surprised to learn Sunshine was a hardcore urban fantasy novel Quite a departure for Robin McKinley known for her fairy tale retellings This book was nothing like she ever wrote before, that s for sure I didn t know she had it in her to write something so tech heavy, at times sexy and in such a perky voice Now, I love to complain about new urban fantasy that lacks originality, proper world building and just plain satisfactory writing McKinley didn t disappoint in this regard I thought the plot was brilliant, especially the beginning and the ending I am amazed nobody had used the whole chaining to the walls and using a human as a vamp bait scenario before The mythology was completely new and very inventive I loved how creepy, nasty and otherwordly the vamps were One gets tired of sparkly and sexy creatures that have nothing to distinguish them from humans except wondrous stamina and sexual prowess Try writing about a girl falling for someone who looks and acts like Constantine in a convincing manner That s a challenge in itself, I am sure And the writing, well, McKinley has a remarkable command of the language.But all these things that I loved about Sunshine were at the same time its negatives I pretty much thought the book was way overwritten Sometimes the mythology got so complicated I thought I was on some kind of drug induced hallucinogenic trip And Sunshine herself Good lord, the woman talked SO much to herself By about page 200 she started to grate on my nerves so bad I needed a break from her voice This book badly needed some editing out of Sunshine s rambling internal monologue and some dialog Often reading Sunshine s thoughts was like reading McKinley s own blog sometimes interesting, sometimes boring, with never ending parenthesis, notes, s, and P.S s Weeding out about 100 pages of Sunshine s irrelevant musings would have made this book a much enjoyable read.Surprisingly, many things that annoyed readers of this book, didn t bother me The cinnamon rolls the bakery business was interesting to me, I thought it added a nice dimension to Sunshine s personality view spoiler And sex, or, rather, lack thereof I agree, when you read about one person licking another person in the dark, naked, while lying under him, some schmexing at some point is expected But I personally wasn t upset it never happened I wasn t even sure I really wanted it to happen The way McKinley wrote Constantine, he was, in fact, an otherworldly, alien, dead creature I did however have a question why did McKinley bring up the whole issue at all if she wasn t planning to explore it What was the point of writing that scene in the middle of the book with d cks and c nts and engorged l bias BTW, I am channeling Sunshine here, how did a book with this kind of vocabulary make it on the ALA s 2005 List of Best Books for Young Adults hide spoiler since joel is being a slowpoke, i am going to write this review before i forget everything i was am thinking about it and it gets lost in too many books past.yeah, so i had no idea this book was about vampires.but, karen, you have voted for both elizabeth and mariel s review of this book, surely you read reviews before you vote surely you don t just insta vote and RUIN goodreads.com for the rest of us yeah, yeah, yeah.to be fair, i did read elizabeth s review but it was ages ago, when i had no intention of ever reading this book, so i just enjoyed her writing without absorbing the details, and the book itself went whhhooosshh outta my brain and mariel well, mariel is a very special brand of reviewer, and i think she only said vampire one time in her very convoluted but awesome review.i mixed this up in my head with the other fantasy books i have been commanded to read, and i thought this was another beauty and the beast retelling imagine my confusion when the vampires showed up to crash the party.and i liked it, but i did not get out of it what everyone else seems to have gotten from it this is like a seminal work to the fantasy lovers and they swoon when it is mentioned.so what am i missing this is intended as a genuine question because i have never read seen any of it, but is this what true blood is like this is the sense i get southern location, accepted and casual reactions to the supernatural mingling with humankind, central woman straddling two worlds and looking good doing it is this a fair assessment i am just curious if this book was an inspiration to a young er charlaine harris, or if this is just a common theme in fantasy novels.so i am going to talk about genre fiction briefly, as someone who does not read much genre fiction, because i just have some questions observations.and you will correct me if i am totally off base.fantasy novels, including this one, seem to revolve around a strong central female character and several helper male characters who don t have much power, but work to protect or nurture the female in this book, she does have a boyfriend, but he is symbolic, like something for her to rub her sexuality against.he can physically protect her with his might, but he is really only there to give her what she needs and not ask unpleasant questions, fading into the background so she can view spoiler have guilt free near relations with supernatural beings hide spoiler I have mixed feelings about this book It took me multiple attempts to finish it, but I m glad I did Someone compared this to Buffy and Angel as far as the romance aspects Do not believe that This book has some romantic aspects, but it s of a coming of age story although Sunshine is an adult when it starts She s coming into her powers that she never really understood The writing is very intricate and quite stream of consciousness If you made it through The Sound and the Fury, this book shouldn t be a problem But for genre fiction, I think you have to work too hard to get the enjoyment factor out of it I m no literary snob In fact, I prefer genre fiction I want to enjoy reading a story and get a message This one makes it difficult I am a foodie, so I was salivating at the descriptions of the baked goods that Sunshine makes she s a talented baker However, I wanted of the supernatural aspects and certainly of the intriguing Constantine I could have done with about fifty pages of him I think that a reader who enjoys seeing strong women come into their own in a fantasy novel setting would enjoy this, so than a fan of vampire romance There were some geninuely scary moments that gave me a thrill as well There are also a few gory moments not too bad, but I feel the need to warn I d give Sunshine three stars because it was a good book, but I don t feel the need to reread it Now if she writes a sequel with Constantine, sign me up Extremely enjoyable, I liked this book much than Twilight It was a while ago I read it, but I kept the hardback around, which says a lot since I am forced to be ruthless with what I keep after I read due to space. There Are Places In The World Where Darkness Rules, Where It S Unwise To Walk But There Hadn T Been Any Trouble Out At The Lake For Years, And Sunshine Just Needed A Spot Where She Could Be Alone With Her Thoughts Vampires Never Entered Her MindUntil They Found Her I ve liked Robin McKinley in a low level way for the past ten years or so I really likedBeauty ,The Hero and the CrownandThe Blue Sword , and when I ve seen a new McKinley book I ve generally tried to pick it up and read it, for old time s sake I thought I was fairly familiar with her style and tone.Which is why I was completely unprepared for Sunshine Who knew McKinley had a dark, experimental, inventive, alternate universe vampire novel in her Who knew she had an engaging, modern, flawed character like Sunshine just waiting to come out and win my heart completely over Ever since I first picked it up, I reread Sunshine every few months, and it never ceases to enthrall and delight me It has become one of my favorite books of all time.
Peter Dickinson also a writer, and with whom she co wrote Water Tales of Elemental Spirits in 2001 and two lurchers crossbred sighthounds.Over the years she has worked as an editor and transcriber 1972 73 , research assistant 1976 77 , bookstore clerk 1978 , teacher and counselor 1978 79 , editorial assistant 1979 81 , barn manager 1981 82 , free lance editor 1982 85 , and full time writer Other than writing and reading books, she divides her time mainly between walking her hellhounds, gardening, cooking, playing the piano, homeopathy, change ringing, and keeping her blog.
- Mass Market Paperback
- 405 pages
- Robin McKinley
- 10 July 2019 Robin McKinley