marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,


Sunshine by Robin McKinley

You gotta love the cover on this one.  All black and crimson, showing a chandeleir suspended from the ceiling, and across it, in gold, the byline and the title.  Though I didn't pick it up for that, I picked it up for the byline

Sunshine herself, our narrator, opens the book with an observation that visiting the lake should have been as safe as many othes, and demonstrates one of the virtues of first-person narration by filling us in on her background, and bits of the world (semi-sorta alternate history; you can see the parallels but they are not central) in her own, engaging voice.  After a few readings, I've started to notice the backfill, but then, I'm a writer and prone to notice these things.

But then she's visiting the lake.  When she is abducted by vampires.  (Who are a good set if you really dislike the Twilight kind.)  And they keep her alive, bringing her about the lake, to a house where all the greenery has been cut back to the ground for a large stretch about it, though everywhere since the Voodoo Wars, the lands about the lake have been going back to the wild.  Inside the house, there is a ballroom where a vampire is kept chained.  And they chain her next to him -- she manages only to keep her jackknife -- and leave.

Oddly enough, he doesn't eat, and during the next day, while he's carefully shifting to keep in the shadows to keep from exploding into flames, he urges her to talk to him, to remind him that she's an intelligent being.  (Though even though he's an anomaly, he's still obviously a very, very, very lethal creature.)

And though it has been fifteen years, and though she has spent them being determinedly normal and a coffeeshop baker, she remembers magic that her grandmother taught her, which lets her escape.  And suffering from insanity and a hatred of bullies, she frees the captive vampire too.

Unsurprisingly this leads to repercussions all around.  Both because no one escapes from vampires, and people, especially the SOF (Special Other Forces) are weirded out by hers, even though she doesn't mention vampires, and because the vampires, who put a lot of effort into that set up, were not pleased at its failure.

An amazing book.  Which manages to combine being a vampire novel with incredibly nasty vampires, and a book by Robin McKinley, better known for retelling fairy tales.

Tags: fiction reviews: alternate world fantasy, fiction reviews: contemporary fantasy, genre: alternate history

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