Shortly before Halloween, I was struck by the desire to read vampire books. I don’t think I had read any for years (although I have read many of the ‘classics’ including Dracula (obviously), Interview with a Vampire, Salem’s Lot, etc.), so I wanted a ‘fresh’ approach when I was searching. I was limited by what was available to download from our library, but ended up scratching this particular itch quite satisfactorily.
Sunshine came several weeks after Halloween and I had completely forgotten why it attracted my attention. I began reading about an underachieving baker (well, she is apparently overachieving as a baker, but perhaps fell into baking as she floundered around in life – more an aside, I can relate to the floundering, although not the expert baking) and really wondered why I had chosen that book (more parentheticals – I decided not to read a blurb after I started because I was so intrigued!). She had lots of thoughts about the patrons of the coffee shop where she baked, the state of the world (not good – post-apocalyptic, perhaps?), her family, her boyfriend, but it wasn’t clear where the book was going. I read a lot about amazing cinnamon rolls, and then more about cinnamon rolls, and then, perhaps, a bit more about cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon is really hard for me to spell, by the way. Then we get to her first evening off where the whole family and everyone from work and some patrons come over to watch movies and eat popcorn; apparently this happens every day off, and, to me, that sounds like too much to deal with every time I had a day off. It was too much for our protagonist so she took off (in her clunker – lots of detail about her clunker) to the lake, where her grandmother used to live before she disappeared. At that point she is abducted by vampires, who aren’t supposed to be on that side of the lake, and then I understood why I had reserved this book!
There was a lot of plot development at this point, and action, and superpowers emerging, as well as a brooding vampire who wouldn’t bite; in addition, we finally learned that our protagonist was called Sunshine, real name Rae. This part was pretty fun and creative, and zipped by – followed by many pages back at the coffee shop. Other characters started to develop personalities (although what a speciesist way to put that, as many of the patrons of the coffee shop can turn blue at will or, presumably, have other super powers, as they are part demon or part Other), which is great, because, for me, Rae is not the most compelling character. To me, she has a lot of exposition back story and a prickly personality, and that is the character development. Her vampire buddy, Con, also seems like a trope – brooding vampire who won’t drink blood (except from a deer maybe?). The vampire lore is pretty interesting, when McKinley describes it, and the ways that other Others hide in plain sight and fend off bad guys is pretty fun. Many possibly interesting plot points are mentioned and dropped (Rae’s father is from a magic family and he has vanished, Rae’s mom left her father before any of the troubles started, but why?, the second in command of the Others police force is really mean and has some agenda that is never followed up), while baking and the challenges of getting good baking help are mentioned and described and perused and noodled over and….
I’m glad I read this book and enjoyed how long it took me to figure out why I planned to read it – nice slow burn there! – but I’m not sure I recommend it unless descriptions of desserts are your thing. The exposition, dropped characters, tropey protagonists, etc., really piqued my interest and then left me hanging. However, I did finish it, so I was invested enough to do that, which says something, because I have dropping books like crazy this year.