What a very odd book Robin McKinley’s Sunshine is.
It opens thusly:
It was a dumb thing to do but it wasn’t that dumb. There hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake in years. And it was so exquisitely far from the rest of my life.
There follows discussion of the narrator’s baking and mother and siblings and lover and a tiny bit of worldbuilding backstory, nine hardcover pages of it, until:
I never heard them coming. Of course you don’t, when they’re vampires.
(Which, incidentally, is the first time the word “vampire” is mentioned in the book. You can read this entire section online, and indeed I recommend you do if this review ends up sounding at all interesting.)
The whole book is basically like this: lots of near-breathless, discursive first-person narration, containing, here and there, an interesting deconstruction of cliched vampire stories. While reading, I was conscious that there were considerable periods of waiting for something to happen . . . and yet I kept reading. I can’t explain that.
Some things I can say: the ending is much less abstract than some of McKinley’s endings. Some of the characters are less developed than they should be. The plot that begins with the vampires’ appearance is completed, but a lot of loose ends remain. And McKinley is often thought of as a YA author, but this probably does not get shelved in YA because it contains brief but matter-of-factly explicit references to sex. (I don’t think I’d have a problem with anyone over, oh, double-digits in years reading it, but then I read Presumed Innocent and Hyperion when I was twelve and didn’t die. Plus the view taken of sex here is much healthier.) And it is definitely different from the Culture series, which is what I was going for.
But ultimately, this is a very odd book, and probably the only way to tell if you’d like it is to read a sample.