Sunshine's mundane existence as the head baker at Charlie's Coffeehouse takes an unexpected turn when she drives to her grandmother's secluded summer camp. While she is taking in the scenic view of the starlit sky reflecting off the lake's calm surface, she is attacked by a gang of vampires and brought to an abandoned mansion on the far side of the lake. They strip her of her shoes, dress her in a blood-red gown, and shackle her to a wall. In the semi-darkness of the moonlit room, she realizes that a vampire is shackled next to her. After some tense moments, the two begin to talk and quickly conclude that if they don't help each other escape, they're both as good as dead.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sunshine is an amazing baker for Charlie's family restaurant in New Arcadia. After the Other Wars (a war that involved wizards, vampires, ghouls, etc), the world is a completely different place. You have to watch out where you go because you can become lunch/dinner/breakfast. But that didn't matter to Sunshine. She decided she had to get away from it all, and went to the lake to relax and remember. There she is attacked by several vampires and then chained to a wall across from a very hungry vampire named Constantine. Through her natural magic, Sunshine is able to free herself and the vampire, creating a bond to destroy the vampire that kidnapped them both.
This is one of the darker books that I've read by Robin McKinley. There is very little to laugh about, very little lightheartedness in a book where death is around the corner. But that doesn't make it a bad book. Sunshine is trying to escape her father's name and magical lineage, while Constantine is trying to survive against his arch-nemesis, Bo. Together they team up in the most unlikely way, in a vampiric bond.
Sunshine's character seems to be burdened with the fact that she is a wizard's daughter, while her mother's new husband and children have no claims to magic. It is the secret that no one talks about, but it still haunts Sunshine. She is constantly questioning whether she is a danger to everyone or not. She also struggles with her attraction to Constantine (which is not always sexual), and why she saved him in the first place.
I love Constantine's character. He is so patient, never forcing the issue with Sunshine, though sometimes I think he should have.
I recommend this book, but be prepared to occasionally have to put it down because of the amount of death involved. And as always, looking forward to the next book Ms. McKinley is writing.
**Adult scenes involved. Not appropriate for all readers.**