Sunshine by Robin McKinley

First, I don’t usually take ten days to finish a book – any book – and admittedly, I finished this a couple days ago, but it was our anniversary, and then I was jazzed from workshop so I couldn’t focus. But, it did take me longer than usual to finish Sunshine, and I’m not sure why. Something about the book lulled me into a weird moody place where I just couldn’t zip through the words the way I usually do. I think it was that Robin McKinley did such a great job of setting the scene, and letting us see the characters.

In any case, I picked up Sunshine because I couldn’t resist the notion of a vampire novel with that name, and I generally like vampire novels. This one was wonderfully rich in detail – set in an alternative present in which police forces have supernatural ops forces to guard against the Others – weres, demons, and vampires.

Lest this sound at all like the worlds of Tanya Huff, Laurell K. Hamilton, or the BuffyVerse, let me assure you that McKinley’s supernatural “now” is much grittier, much creepier, and much darker, with the backstory of Voodoo Wars and the knowledge that humanity is losing its war against the Others.

Brightening up the darkness, is Sunshine, a plucky baker and dessert pusher at the local coffee bar. She has a slightly crazy family, a tattooed bike-riding boyfriend, and a great apartment, and then she drives out to the lake cottage her family once owned, and is kidnapped – not fed upon – by vampires, and thrown into a cell with another vampire, Constantine, who is chained in the corner opposite hers.

To tell more would destroy the plot. While it does have predictable elements – Sunshine and Constantine eventually team up and escape and there are inevitable repercussions – the story never seems old or stale, and while it is complete in and of itself, it feels like the beginning of a series.

If anything, I’d have liked to see more of Constantine – he’s very present in the entire novel but doesn’t have much page count – and a little more of Sunshine and Mel.

Also, recipes for the desserts would be cool. But maybe that’s just my inner chocoholic talking.