Sunday, December 5, 2021


Robin McKinley
Completed 12/5/2021, Reviewed 12/5/2021
2 stars

This book is considered a modern classic in the vampire genre.  It won the Mythopoeic Award in 2004.  I can see why.  The world building is phenomenal.  McKinley creates a very original world of vampires, demons, weres, and sorcerers, as well as mixed bloods, and their interactions with pure humans.  My problem with the book is that there is so much continuous info dumping that I couldn’t stay interested in the plot.  The book is told in first person, so we are inside the main character’s head, and it is a mess.  She constantly goes off on very long tangents, which sometimes aids the world building, and sometimes just shows us what a mess she is.  It ended up a tedious reading experience for me.

Rae, aka Sunshine, is a baker at a family coffeehouse.  She’s known for her outstanding cinnamon rolls, muffins, and desserts.  During a particularly toxic family movie night, she decides to leave and finds herself driving up to an old cabin where she used to visit her now disappeared paternal grandmother.  Nothing has happened there since the Voodoo Wars, a period of violence with the Others (vampires, etc).  Of course, this is the night she gets abducted by a gang of vampires.  They chain her in this old mansion in the ritzy part of the woods, along with another vampire.  It is here we learn that Sunshine is part sorcerer on her father’s side.  The two help each other escape, leading to an ultimate showdown between the bad vampires and Sunshine and Con.

Throughout the book, the info dumping tells us about life after the Voodoo Wars.  It’s interesting, giving us many, many details about the Others and society’s response to them.  There’s an organization called SOF whose whole goal is to mitigate the expansion of the Other population, most specifically, the vampires.  After Sunshine’s two-day disappearance, the SOF deems her a person of interest in a vampire investigation, mostly because she won’t tell anyone what really happened.  In fact, she keeps the events, actually most of the supernatural events, secret from the SOF, her family, and most of all, herself.  So when the info dumping isn’t world building, it’s letting us in on Sunshine unhealthily dealing with her trauma.  This sounds like it should be good for character development, but it made for so much digression, I often had to go back several pages and read the single lines of dialogue to figure out what was going on.

One thing I liked about it was that there was no paranormal romance, even though this book is described as one.  It is really about a bond after a traumatic experience.  There is one scene where some sexual tension happens, but it is very short.  It seemed like its point was to give more details about vampire physiology and the confusion around survivor relationships than anything else.

I like vampire novels.  I really do.  But this one just didn’t do it for me.  This book has a ton of high ratings on Worlds Without End and pretty good reviews on Goodreads.  So I’d suggest reading some of those before basing your desire to read this book on my review alone.  I could be totally off base.  But this book just wasn’t my cup of tea.  I give it two stars out of five.  I found myself constantly falling asleep during the long info dumps and having to put it down every twenty pages or so to shake the boredom from my head.  

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