Robin McKinley
Sunshine Cover



It's a few month's late, but I'm finally writing down my thoughts on Robin McKinley's Sunshine, my WOGF book for August.

I've got an embarrassing soft spot for romantic vampire fiction, despite a recent, extremely popular, and entirely wretched recent series that I won't mention again. Sunshine is the best in the genre that I've read since John Ajvide Lindqvist's Let the Right One In. Both of them do the vampire romance thing right by emphasizing the fact that vampires are monsters: they're horrible mockeries of life who are far more likely to kill and eat you and your entire family than cuddle.

Sunshine brings something a bit different, in that McKinley sets in in a very cool New Weird setting. It's common knowledge that vampires exist in this world, along with demons, wizards and all manner of "Others", and everybody just has to try to get along with that fact. It feels a bit like the setting China Miéville would come up with if he decided to do vampires. McKinley does Bas-Lag one better by giving her viewpoint character a pretty banal day job (she bakes cinnamon buns), which emphasizes the weirdness of the rest of the setting. Many of the scenes where Rae is at work could be dropped into a (good) romantic comedy without modification, which makes the shocks all the more effective when she is, for instance, kidnapped by vampires.

Sunshine's biggest fault, if it can be so called, is that the world-building is too good. There's so much detail put into the consequences of the Voodoo Wars (viz: vampires everywhere), and so little put into specifics that Sunshine is practically begging for a sprawling ten-book series. Unfortunately, McKinley has no interest whatsoever in writing that series, so the reader is left hanging a bit.

Still, Sunshine is well worth the read as a self-contained story, so I suppose we must be grateful for what we have.

Cross-posted at Goodreads