Friday, May 8, 2009

Review of Sunshine by Robin Mckinley

Fans of Laurell K. Hamilton's sexy vampire executioner, Anita Blake, are going to devour Robin McKinley's Sunshine, which revolves around the tenuous relationship between Rae "Sunshine" Seddon, a baker obsessed with the dark side, and a centuries-old vampire named Constantine.
Sunshine's mundane existence as the head baker at Charlie's Coffeehouse takes an unexpected turn when she drives to her grandmother's secluded summer camp. While she is taking in the scenic view of the starlit sky reflecting off the lake's calm surface, she is attacked by a gang of vampires and brought to an abandoned mansion on the far side of the lake. They strip her of her shoes, dress her in a blood-red gown, and shackle her to a wall. In the semi-darkness of the moonlit room, she realizes that a vampire is shackled next to her. After some tense moments, the two begin to talk and quickly conclude that if they don't help each other escape, they're both as good as dead

Sunshine is a dramatic departure for McKinley, who is best known for revisionist folklore works like The Door in the Hedge and The Outlaws of Sherwood, as well as highly acclaimed young adult fantasy like The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, which won a Newbery Award in 1985. Sunshine, however, is definitely not a young adult novel: It's dark, edgy, sensual, humorous -- and a whole lot of fun.
Paul Goat Allen
This is the very solid story of Rae Seddon, AKA, Raven Blaise, AKA, Sunshine. I really liked Sunshine as the main character of the novel, even if her first person perspective was prone to ramble a little bit. But hey, this is somewhat the pot calling the kettle black here. And although she did not handle things that happened to her in the story as I probably would have handled them, it was probably for the best. I think as rich as her heritage was with magic handling I would have been more prone to embrace it a lot sooner and with much more zeal than she did. But as her wards-crafting landlady told her that fate had a better way for her and this did work out for her in the end. As some other reviews of the book pointed out, this book made my mouth water with all it's talk of freshly baked cinnamon buns, chocolate whatevers, and tons more delicious delectables. Charlie's, a run of the mill, hole in the wall (a popular hole in the wall) diner is a great backdrop for the entire story and ties Sunshine's family life and background together quite well. Her relationship with Mel weirded me out a little bit but was not over the top and fit well with the story. That brings me to an even more weird relationship in the story and that was between our lovely heroine and a certain vampire named Constantine, which Rae just out of the blue starts calling "Con"... but I did not mind this either because Con is a really fricken cool name for a vampire, but then again, so is "Raven" and did I mention "Onyx"? How cool would the name "Onyx" be? But anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, Rae and Constantine... Let us just say there is a certain part of the book that you think upon their meeting is inevitable, you get there, it looms, it makes you turn the page incredibly fast and then it laughs in your face. Trust me, you will know it when you get there. And then you are left feeling just as Sunshine describes, but, different, if you know, your a guy. As I said upfront this is a really solid story with a great premise and it had a well thought out beginning, middle and end, which is something a pretty well rounded out fantasy reader can appreciate. It had nicely fleshed out living and non-living characters (pun, not intended). This is sure to be a gem of a novel that I can recommend to my vampire story loving friends and may even be one I return to for a re-read. As always, a heartfelt thanks to Ms. McKinley for this little something wonderful.

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