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A dash of cinnamon, a dash of vampires, and a dash of the supernatural… what do you get? Sunshine by Robin McKinley…chandelier-1081740_1920

How I discovered the book: I had been meaning to read Sunshine for years after I finished Robin McKinley’s novel Beauty, which is one of the most widely read remakes of Beauty and the Beast. I decided to “read” Sunshine as an audiobook through my local electronic library.

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Plot Summary

Rae “Sunshine” is a pastry chef working at her stepfather’s coffeehouse. Her life consists of getting up in the wee hours of the morning to make her famous cinnamon rolls, while spending the rest of her day tending the coffee house. Trapped in the claustrophobia of her humdrum life, Sunshine decides to take a ride to her family’s old lake house. The lake house has been abandoned for years ever since the voodoo wars: a war between humans and the “Others.” After venturing out towards the lake house, Sunshine is suddenly abducted by a gang of vampires and taken as prisoner. Sunshine is trapped alongside another vampire named Constantine, an enemy of the vampire gang . As Constantine is slowly being driven mad by insatiable thirst, Sunshine must find a way to escape from vampires and return to the coffee house.

Feeling at peace, however fragilely, made it easy to slip into the visionary end of the dark-sight. The rose shadows said that they loved the sun, but that they also loved the dark, where their roots grew through the lightless mystery of the earth. The roses said: You do not have to choose” – Sunshine, Robin McKinley

About the book:

Title: Sunshine

Author: Robin McKinley

Series: N/A (unfortunately)

Year Published: 2004

Pages: 405

Genres: Fiction, paranormal, adult fiction, horror, vampires, urban fantasy, romance

The Review

This book took me by surprise to say the very least. The vampire genre in both the young adult genre as well as adult fiction has nearly exhausted all originality. It is rare to find a book featuring vampires that does not end with a romance between a human and a vampire. . Yawn. (Note: Sunshine was published in 2004 which was before the Twilight craze). Sunshine plays with the vampire stereotype and completely delivers a different result. There is nothing physically appealing about the vampire lead, he is not sparkly and he does not glitter, he does not resemble a modern day Adonis. He is emotionless and flat and completely alien to the main character. Somehow, McKinley is able to make him interesting and compelling. How does she do it? It is still a great mystery to me.

Before reading this book, I had read other reviews that suggested that this book was less of a vampire novel than a coming-of-age novel with a vampire twist. The book features vampires, and although they are at the forefront of the novel when it comes to supernatural creatures, they do not encumber the entire story. There are other types of paranormal creatures and beings that end up capturing the reader’s interest as well. Sunshine’s world is very peculiar and unique. As for Sunshine herself, she is a unique protagonist who has the charm of being an adult, (a very inexperienced one) while being very honest and sometimes naïve. Her frequent detours in explanations may be a turn off to some, but I believe that it only heightens her character and personality. She reminds me of a chatty waitress at a local diner, which I assume that is what McKinley was going for since Sunshine works as a baker/waitress at a coffeehouse.

Final rating: B+ (Good) 

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