by Robin McKinley
I'm not really big on vampires. I'm really not. Even though plenty of them seem to be cropping up in recent reads—and books that I have really, really liked—I'm really not into the dark blood-and-gore type of novel. Sigh. And this one had blood, and gore, and vampires, and I still liked it, very much. Oh well.
The first time I picked this book up, I only picked it up because it was a new book from Robin McKinley. I had no idea what it was about. I figured it was another fairy tale (I mean, c'mon, that what she does, right?). And then I found out it was a vampire story. Really? From McKinley? Fairy tale queen? WITH CHEESE?!?*
So, this book was a departure from her into new territory. At least, as far as genre is concerned (this book really isn't YA, as most of her stuff usually is: there is more violence, more sex, more swearing, and, er, stuff; and the main character isn't a teenager *gasp of shock.* Also, it has a far different setting than what she usually writes. It isn't the world of fairy tale and princesses and that sort of thing. It's actually a modern-day world in which magic is a reality). But it still has the general McKinley feel of characterization, themes, and magic. Of course.
The basic rundown of the story is what happens when Sunshine, a young baker who works at a family coffee shop, tangles with some vampires and discovers some of her own latent powers that have been lying dormant since her childhood, and the internal conflict the discovery causes her.
One of the themes McKinley revisits in this one is duality: Sunshine is caught between forces within herself of light and dark, and she worries that she is some kind of monster—though the solution to her worries is simply to accept who and what she is. (There is some of this in The Hero and The Crown, and it reminds me a bit of Ged's acceptance of his own shadow at the end of A Wizard of Earthsea by Le Guin.)
There are many things in the story that are left completely unresolved. It screams for a sequel, though I don't know if McKinley will ever bother. That doesn't seem to be her style. And yet—there are so many things left open, and so many plot points seem as if they are being set up for a much larger conflict. But will there be another book?
Anyway. Interesting book, and an enjoyable read.
*If "with cheese" makes no sense, that's okay. It is an expression of shocked disbelief, carrying nearly the same connotation as "WTF," and yet, is G-rated.