by Robin McKinley
This is the first vampire story I've ever read. I'm not big into horror or romance, so what appears typical in the vampire genre just never appealed to me. But McKinley is one of my favorite authors, and I heard this isn't your usual vampire tale. It's set in a world very like our own, only steeped in "all the mangling and malevolent kinds" of magic. Demons, werewolves, succubi, etc. The vampires are the worst, the most deadly. Society has all kinds of laws and protections against them. Most people try to stay safe, and turn a blind eye. Including Sunshine. She's a baker in a coffehouse, with a nice, ex-biker boyfriend and an eccentric old landlady. She doesn't know that magic blood is in her veins- from her missing father's side of the family. One day she drives out to an abandoned cabin on the lake for some alone time. Where she gets caught by a gang of vampires, then locked up with another vampire the gang is holding captive. Incredibly, he doesn't eat her. More incredibly, when she manages to escape, she takes him with her. And finds that in saving the vampire's life, a bond has been created between them- one which draws them together more and more, until Sunshine is pitched into a battle against evil, using abilities she never knew she had, feeling that not only are her loyalties divided, but that "they had hacked me in two and were disappearing over the horizon in different directions."
Throughout the book, Sunshine struggles to accept what she is learning about herself, and to come to terms with the unlikely alliance she has struck with one of mankind's deadliest enemies. The intricate details of the urban fantasy world McKinley created in Sunshine kept me riveted. I really liked the juxtaposition of magic and technology, and the contrast of the two main characters- one who embodied light, the other darkness. How they found themselves working together, when by nature they would be totally repelled by each other. I'm glad the author explained a lot of vampire lore, because I'm unfamiliar with most of it, and don't know how much is her own spin on things. So now I'm tempted to go read the original Bram Stoker Dracula, just to see where it all started.
Rating: 4/5 ........ 389 pages, 2003