Though eight years have passed since Robin McKinley debuted her first adult novel, Sunshine, the vampire novel can still hold its own. For one thing, the main character is a baker. Sunshine, the baker not the book, wakes up before the sun rises to knead bowls of dough into cinnamon batter. The description of the bakery and the pastries that regularly come piping out the oven alone will keep readers hooked. Imagine a vampire novel where the pages are splattered not with overdone sexual euphemisms and blood but homemade icing and flaky croissants.
That isn’t to say that McKinley skirts around the gore and sex that goes almost hand in hand with any adult text even rumored to include vampires. There’s plenty of both but it’s handled smartly. What does that mean in a Robin McKinley novel? It means that her characters are not one dimensional long-toothed monsters who clamp onto people’s necks at any time necessary. The main character isn’t a vampire but she doesn’t go doe-eyed when she meets one. She doesn’t get scared either, mostly because he’s half dead, and she has just been kidnapped by a group of rogue vampires after leaving her bakery. It’s a classic case of enemy of my enemy is my friend. She saves him, he saves her. The never meet again, and she doesn’t think anymore of vampire than your average person. End of story, right? Sort of.
For a while, the intrepid Sunshine continues sleeping with her boyfriend and waking up before the rest of the world to roll out delectable cinnamon buns. Except there’s a little problem. The vampires that kidnapped her have wounded her, a wound that refuses to heal. She tries everything but dripping blood onto delicate breakfast pastries is not really the best way to run a business. So, when the vampire she helped returns to save her, what can a girl say but yes?
The dynamics and emotional upheaval that form between vampire are human are intriguing, mostly because they occur so little throughout the book. It seems less like a vampire novel and more like gritty suspense, set against the peaceful backdrop of an out of the way, cozy little village. Forget the other vampire novels and take a chance on McKinley’s Sunshine. It’s delectable in more ways than one.
Robin McKinley’s Sunshine can be found at the local library or purchased as text or e-book at:
Sunshine at Amazon
Sunshine at Barnes and Nobles