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Author: Robin McKinley
Rae Seddon, nicknamed Sunshine, lived a quiet life working at her stepfather's bakery. There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it's unwise to walk. Sunshine knew that. One night, she went out to the lake for some peace and quiet. There hadn't been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just ne...  more »
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PBS Market Price: $8.09 or $4.19+1 credit
ISBN-13: 9780515138818
ISBN-10: 0515138819
Publication Date: 11/30/2004
Pages: 405
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.

3.9 stars, based on 414 ratings
Publisher: Jove
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

VeganFreak avatar reviewed Sunshine on
Helpful Score: 17
Well written vampire story set in a world with magic handlers and monsters. I read many reviews that compared this to Buffy The vampire Slayer, but I didn't think this story was anything like Buffy. I guess people will use that comparison for anything with vampires and a female protagonist.

This really stands out for me in the stories I've read in this genre. The prose was top notch and this didn't feel like just another vampire story with too many chicks in black leather and sexy, vampire, man candy.
reviewed Sunshine on + 164 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 16
This was very good. I loved Sunshine's dry sense of humor, loved the ambiance, loved all the details about life since the Voodoo Wars... The story was exciting and interesting, and I enjoyed it very much! For fans of the author, the little homages to Beauty and the Beast were fun, too. And what a different voice for McKinley! She really has great range - I'm impressed!

My only complaints are that this might have gotten a little long through the middle, and I want to know more about Con! Specifics! And while we're at it, I want Sunshine's recipes too.

Fans have been plaguing McKinley for a follow-up novel, but so far she's maintained that she has no idea if she'll write another or not. She says she goes where her muse takes her, and to date she hasn't been steered in that direction. I'll be in line for another book should she write one!

All in all, very good, nifty atmosphere, and I liked the characters. Highly recommended!
reviewed Sunshine on
Helpful Score: 8
I was astonished to see this book tagged with the keyword 'overhyped'. This book isn't given enough credit, as far as I'm concerned. McKinley creates a world where ghouls and monsters are just a part of every-day life, a world where Mythology is so integrated with real goings on that it is integrated into the characters' slang (I'm dorky enough that I find this really cool). It's beautifully descriptive, haunting, and above all--believable. Sunshine isn't perfect. She is a self professed coward. She doesn't know how to use her 'gifts', and fears their origins. Every day is a constant battle of conscience.
I'm on my third read right now, and I'm glad to say that I've picked up something new on each rereading. I'd suggest Sunshine to anyone tired of flat, stale heroes and villains, of overly romanticized vampires and flimsy (stupid) heroines.
reviewed Sunshine on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
After reading all the positive reviews, I was really looking forward to Sunshine. But it just didn't work for me. It was a labor for me to get through the story. The world building and overwhelming rambling details never came together. After I read the last sentence, I was beyond frustrated. So much of the book felt...pointless. The "idea" of the book was brilliant. The "execution" didn't work for me. As a reader, I just didn't click with McKinley's voice.
PhoenixFalls avatar reviewed Sunshine on + 185 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
For those readers who have never read McKinley before, who exist on a diet of paranormal romance or Laurell K. Hamilton or Anne Rice or Twilight, I say you must read Sunshine. The world McKinley creates in this novel goes well beyond the edges of the page, and it only gets richer on rereading. The characters have width and depth and color and not a single one is simple or easy to understand. The narrative voice is pitch-perfect, the themes of light and dark and blood and cleanliness always serving the story and adding depth. Best of all, it makes its vampires feel new, not least by avoiding making them sexy and glamorous but rather, well, undead.

For those who are avid readers of McKinley -- as I am -- Sunshine is on the surface a wild departure from her other works, but in its bones is the culmination of everything that came before. It has the requisite McKinley heroine: mistrusted and awkward, struggling to carve out an unconventional place only to have that place snatched away by events out of her control, but ultimately discovering herself and her past just in time to meet the darkness seeking her. It has the love of myth and fairy tale that led McKinley to retell the Robin Hood myth, retell the story of Sleeping Beauty, and retell Beauty and the Beast not once, but twice. It has the necessity of going on after the climactic battle, starting to put the pieces of a life back together when all has been torn apart multiple times, the sense of hope that it is possible warring with the sense that the person inside has changed too much to fit in any normal happy life from now on.

Most of all, it has many, many echoes of Deerskin, which I consider to be McKinley's greatest work, from the blood imagery to the rediscovering and reinventing oneself bit by bit to the doubt that ones resources won't be enough to overcome all the evil in the world. Especially affecting and evocative for me was the line "Sun-self, tree-self, deer-self. Don't they outweigh the dark self?" that Sunshine begins to repeat to herself like a mantra. Each time she says it it has a slightly different meaning.

There are some things McKinley does in this novel better than she has done in any other. The climactic battle scene is her most coherent and cohesive, even when I was tempted to speed through it because I so desperately wanted to reach the end. Sunshine's narrative voice, already mentioned, makes her a more approachable heroine than any of McKinley's other heroines, which makes her peril and her self-doubt all the realer (though that distancing McKinley mastered for Deerskin's third-person voice was probably necessary given how harrowing that novel is). It is jarring if you go in expecting McKinley's usual high fantasy narration, but it just gets better the deeper into the story you go. There is also more humor in Sunshine than I think there is in any other McKinley novel, and it is always found in the lightest doses when things get blackest.

All in all, the more times I read Sunshine the more I am convinced that it is a near-perfect book. None of McKinley's novels race along (well, until the climax) but I always find the slower parts necessary resting times, times to catch my breath and assimilate all that went on in the last battle (be it internal or external). It is undoubtedly an adult novel like none of McKinley's other novels are -- there is quite a bit of violence and one brief explicitly sexual scene. But it is a rich and worthwhile read that ages well, and I hope it continues to find a wide audience.
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tiffwitch69 avatar reviewed Sunshine on + 64 more book reviews
A very unusual read. The main character Sunshine was a bit of a spaz and it hurt the potential success of the plot. While I did finish the book it was more as a hope that it would get better and it has typical growing pains since this isn't a series.
GeniusJen avatar reviewed Sunshine on + 5322 more book reviews
Reviewed by Kira M for

After years of peace with the vampires, Rae "Sunshine" Seddon makes a big mistake and wanders by the lake to get some peace and quiet. She is captured by vampires and imprisoned next to one who implores her to tell him stories to keep them both sane.

Using her long-forgotten power that her grandmother tried to cultivate in her when she was young, she turns her pocket knife into a key and frees herself and the vampire. When the vampires' true plans to decimate and take over the human world within 100 years are uncovered, Rae, a descendant of Onyx Blaise, is recruited by SOF (Special Other Forces) to stop the madness.

The only problem is that her powers were never fully trained and tapped into. With the help of her vampire friend and with enemies at their heels, these two must face the odds to save themselves and all of humanity. Will they succeed? Will Rae be able to control her magic in time to save everyone?

A gripping, high-thrill adventure with lots at stake. The plot and characters are well-developed, and the story is fairly unique and holds the reader's attention. Those who like vampire tales, adventure, fantasy, and apocalyptic books will enjoy reading SUNSHINE.
janisbeth avatar reviewed Sunshine on + 34 more book reviews
I rarely give a book five stars, but this is about the best "vampire" book written (and I've read a lot). The writing is excellent and the story is gripping and (dare I say it?) unique, with a dream-like quality that draws in the reader. Of the books I've read, only Steven Brust's "Agyar" compares in quality.
reviewed Sunshine on + 50 more book reviews
I really liked this book, although I would have liked it more if more of the questions raised in the book would have been answered. The author spends so much time explaining this world, but leaves out great big gaps on the characters. With the telling of the story through Rae's POV, it was hard to feel like the other characters were really fleshed out...she didn't know much about anyone, and I wanted to hear them tell there stories too. I wanted more Constantine--by far the most interesting character but we only get glimpses of him. This book felt like part one of a series but apparently is the only one. Interstesting, a fun read but frustrating because it had so much potential to go from a good read to a fabulous one.
sarabeth4 avatar reviewed Sunshine on + 9 more book reviews
Sunshine is fun and manages to never sound overly dramatic -- a real accomplishment in a genre that generally thrives on blood and melodrama. Very enjoyable, although the ending is abrupt, as many of McKinley's tend to be. It's a great read if you don't mind filling in a lot of blanks yourself.
nrlymrtl avatar reviewed Sunshine on + 297 more book reviews
This is one of my favorite books and it was so great to revisit it in audio format. Shes an average person, a baker, who finds herself in the middle of vampire turf war. Messy. Yeah, that really sums up a lot of it. But there is a lot more going on in this world that McKinley created. The SOF suits are a complicated bunch. Magic users are suppose to be registered, and if they arent the SOFs can arrest them, or more depending on what the magic users are up to. But the SOFs that keep an eye on Rae have known her for years, and they are far more interested in taking out the dangerous elements of the paranormal community, like vamps. The SOFs also have several interesting secrets of their own.

Then there is Mel, Raes boyfriend. He also works at the bakery. His hobby is working on bikes and riding bikes and making love to Rae. Hes a calm character with lots of tatts. His tatts are the complicated kind that are really wards to keep his skin intact. I so wish to know more about this man, his history, and why he needed such powerful wards at one time in his life. Perhaps from the Voodoo Wars?

And of course we have to talk about the vampires. Theres the rude and crude ones, lead by Beau, that planned to sacrifice Rae to their enemy (Constantine), who they had shackled in an abandoned mansion on the lake. But things dont go as planned and together, Rae and Constantine find a way out of this trap. Their relationship, if it can be called that, becomes the underlying plot line to all the other stuff going on in Raes life.

Just a side note: There is one of the hottest not-a-sex-scene in all of literature in this book. Yeah. You need to read this book.

The world itself is lush with charms that have a mind of their own, weres (werehound, wererabbit, werebears), and remnants of destroyed cities from the Voodoo wars. Rae has been able to wall out this world by and large for years by living simply and working at the bakery. But it comes crashing in as she has to confront the heritage from her fathers side.

Deeply rich in environment, excellent characters, and wonderful plot makes this book one of my favorites and earns it a permanent place on my shelf. Dont particularly care for vampire stories? Yeah, me neither. But I love this book. Its not about vampires; its about Rae and her world and her struggle to keep that world and those people precious to her. Definitely worth the read.

Oh, and Ms. McKinley, if you ever do have a need to write another book in this magnificent world, I would be ever so tickled pink to add it to my permanent bookshelf. Just saying.Oh, and perhaps a companion cookbook as I need to try Raes Death by Bitter Chocolate.

The Narration: Merlington does a fantastic job with Rays voice, perfect fit. She also did a good job with the other female voices. Her male voices sometimes felt like a bit of a stretch in masculinity, but each was distinct and that matters more to me. Overall, a very good performance.

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