Ah, Robin McKinley. I love her writing. And I was reminded during my Twilight/New Moon phase that she had written a vampire novel. So, during the first lull I had (between challenges and Estella books), I popped over to the library and picked it up.
It’s an interesting story, set in an interesting world. Sunshine — Rae — is a baker in a coffee house, specifically the Cinnamon Roll Queen. She has a nice little life, a boyfriend, a time-consuming job, friends, but one night she feels restless. She drives out to the lake, to her father’s cabin (divorced parents, father’s whereabouts is unknown), and proceeds to get kidnapped by vampires. She is taken to be a sacrifice for Constantine, whom a master vampire (Bo), has captured and is keeping prisoner. But, Sunshine manages to escape (by changing a pocket knife into a key; she’s got magic powers, but hasn’t used them) and takes Constantine with her. And their lives will never be the same (ominous music here).
I liked the ethical dilemmas posed by this: if a human is supposed to, by default, have an animosity with vampires then how does one deal with the fact that you let one live? For Sunshine could have just let Constantine die in the beginning and never thought about it again. It was something the character struggled with throughout the book, and one I thought McKinley manages better than Stephenie Meyer does in Twilight (since that same ethical dilemma is present there, too, on some level). There’s a lot of musing and soul-searching in Sunshine, though, and while a lot of it works, sometimes it gets heavy-handed. And it definitely asks more questions than it answers.
I enjoyed the book, though the ending leaves things hanging. And, on one level, it’s okay. Sunshine comes to accept and deal with who she is (and it’s not just the Cinnamon Roll Queen). The big bad guy gets his comeuppance. She has a relationship with Constantine, but it isn’t as unhealthy and obsessive as Bella and Edward’s is. You can’t call it a romance, though it’s something more than a casual alliance or even friendship. It all ends happily, for what it’s worth.
But I really wanted to know what happens next. There were too many questions left unanswered, too many ends left loose. And sometimes that’s just unsatisfying.