Sunshine by Robin McKinley is a vampire story, though not nearly as sparkly and youthful as this particular (wretched) cover design would suggest.
nicknamed, Sunshine, is a baker. She works at a coffee shop, dates a
biker, and has a fairly ordinary life. One evening, she drives out to
the lake for some peace and quiet. That's where the vampires get her.
She is taken to an abandoned mansion and chained to the ballroom wall.
Someone else is chained there, too: Constantine, a vampire. "Speak," he
tells her. "Remind me that you are a rational creature." Con has been
chained there for too long, tormented by lack of food and the need to
constantly avoid the sunlight pouring in through the room's uncovered
windows during the day, lest he burst into flame when the light touches
his skin. Sunshine's presence is just that much more torture -- but,
unbeknownst to their captors, she can also be his salvation. Working
together, Sunshine and Con can escape . . . but if they do, both of
their lives will become extraordinarily complicated. There is no such
thing in their world as human and vampire cooperation. The human police
will become suspicious. And, as for the rival vampire who imprisoned Con
in the first place? He will be furious, and both Con and Sunshine will
be his constant targets until he exacts revenge.
I'll admit, I
kind of hated this book when it first came out. McKinley is one of my
top ten favorite authors -- I'll admit she has some stylistic quirks
(most notably, a tendency to ramble through pages of back-story and
description in the middle of a scene), but her books usually work for
me. But I'm not so much a fan of the vampire story (even less then than I
was now) and I was not enamored of Con, who is dead (heh heh heh)
creepy, nor of Sunshine, whose actions I still find a bit ambiguous.
Also, this book is unapologetically adult, which is a bit of a shock to
the sensibility of someone who is expecting something along the lines of
Spindle's End and Rose Daughter.
I liked the book a little better this time, knowing what to expect from
it. (Also, it made me crave pastries like crazy.) It's never going to
be among my favorite McKinley books, but I can see why so many people
are fond of it. Readers who love a good dark, grown-up vampire story
will savor this one.
(Reviewed from my personally purchased copy.)