They took her clothes and sneakers. They dressed her in a long red gown. And they shackled her to the wall of an abandoned mansion -within easy reach of a figure stirring in the moonlight.
She knows that he is a vampire. She knows that she's to be his dinner and that when he is finished with her, she will be dead. Yet, as dawn breaks, she finds that he has not attempted to harm her. And now it is he who needs her to help him survive the day.
©2003 Robin McKinley; (P)2008 Tantor
"A gripping, funny, page-turning, pretty much perfect work of magical literature." (Neil Gaiman, New York Times best-selling author of Anansi Boys)
"McKinley knows very well - and makes her [audience] believe - that 'the insides of our own minds are the scariest things there are.'" (Publishers Weekly Starred Review)
I've been a member of Audible for a few years now, and have downloaded and listened to over 100 audiobooks, but this is the first time I've been inspired to write a review.
I frequently check Audible's inventory to see if any of my all-time favorite authors have been added. After having read, on the recommendation of a friend, the first of the "Twilight" series, I looked again for "Sunshine" by McKinley. Imagine my delight to find that it has just been added to the Audible library.
On the cover of the print edition I have, Neil Gaiman (another favorite author) writes "A pretty near perfect book." That about sums it up for me.
This is by far the best vampire tale I have ever read. It is the Brothers Grimm to the Disneyesque teen books by Meyer. If you like your tales with gripping characters, suspense, deep mythic depths and a cracking plot that whisks you along, this is the book for you.
I've read Sunshine three times and listened to it once. My only complaint is that there has not been a sequel, which is apparently feedback McKinley has often heard about this book. Along the corridor of the plot, the reader keeps getting glimpses into fascinating rooms where the story might be further developed, and then the book ends without the reader being able to go back and explore those areas. This is an appetizing tale in so many ways, and definitely leaves the reader wanting MORE! (In a good way -- like one wants to go back to a five-star restaurant and order another entree by the same chef, even though the one you had was perfect.)
What I don't understand, with the runaway success of the Twilight series (2 credits per book? Really?) and Buffy, and the Ann Rice books back in the day, why THIS book is not at the top of all the bestseller lists. I envy you if Sunshine is still in your future
I like Doctor Who.
This book came extremely highly recommended by a friend whose taste I trust implicitly. I should note, however, that she didn't recommend the audiobook.
I immediately disliked the main character, Sunshine, but as I listened more, I realized it wasn't the character I disliked so much as the narrator's idea of who the main character is. "Sunshine" is written in first person limited point of view, and Laural Merlington chose to add inflections that made the character Sunshine sound much younger than she is supposed to be. Minor complaints were a little too emphatic, and serious revelations read far too flippantly. If I imagined the words with slightly different inflections, the meaning changed and Sunshine immediately became more reasonable, more relatable, and more likable. Additionally, Merlington has a distinctive voice that sounds very much like an older woman. This is completely acceptable for the character of Sunshine, but way off base for anyone else, most of all Constantine.
The story is solid if you like vampire fiction. Before downloading this book, I highly recommend listening to the sample to see if this is a narrator you can bear to listen to for 15 hours. The narrator will make or break this for you.
I tried to listen to this story several times and was always so turned off by the narrator that I had to stop. I finally made myself keep listening. The story is actually pretty good. The narrator sounds like an older woman doing the voice of a whiney child. The main character is a woman in her twenties but it is hard to view her as any kind of adult because of the narration. The main character performs adult activities in the book, so it was pretty freaky that the whole thing was read from a whiney child voice. I think this book would have been better to read instead of listen. I noticed the narrator narrates several other books. Even if it is one of my favorite authors, I will not download another book by this narrator.. she's just that bad!
Con the vampire.
The story line and all the background details.
I she put feeling into it but doesn't have a pleasant voice
Great book but not very good Narrator
I read, and loved, this story when it first came out and have been recommending it unabashedly ever since. I enjoy the way the backstory and world is introduced and explained, I like Sunshine, and I really appreciate that the vampires are not all about sex appeal.
I did not like the narration for this at all. The voice Merlington used for Sunshine did not mesh in the least with the voice "heard" when I first read the book. She made Sunshine sound whiny and far less practical than I read her as. Lines that come across as dry and ironic in the book were delivered in a way that made them sound desperate and self-pitying.
It is nice to have this to listen to when I'm driving or plying, but the print book is head and shoulders better than the audio one.
Interesting and well-written, with strong characters. I especially like the community the author shows us, and the rapport the main character has with a wide range of other characters. If you're looking for a paranormal romance this isn't it, though it dances around the edges; it's more a science fiction/fantasy book about a character coming to terms with herself.
better than twilight
Sunshine. She is powerful, intresting, real, loving and down to earth.
she captured the spirit of Sunshine and Con and the relationship between them quite well.
yes, it is that kind of book. When i read it i couldn't put it down and when i listened to it 5 years later it was the same way. I look forward to listening to it again!!
Far more realistic and classic vampire love story than twilight. The magic aspect was a nice touch :o) It leaves you wanting more, but feeling satisfied at the same time.
A magnificent story--well presented--I wish I could read it again for the first time, but listening for the first time was nearly as good. McKinley not only tells good stories, she tells stories well. A long-awaited addition to my audio library--and worth the wait.
I am not really a fan of all of the girl meets vampire novels. But I enjoyed this one.
What I particularly liked about this book was was the tension within the heroine Sunshine as she was simultaneously repelled and pulled in her relationship with the vampire. I love the fact that the vampire was not just another Dracula clone and the author had some original ideas.
It is ripe for a sequel but acording to the author it won't happen. I think the story stands on its own. I thought the narrations was fine.
First time reading Robin McKinley. I have heard good things about her, but she struck me as a bit of a fanta-twee author. Anyway, this was on sale at Audible, and I like a good vampire story, so decided to check it out.
First, if I'd known about the romantic undercurrents, I'd have run screaming. Another vampire romance? Oh, hell no.
So this is another book that got to pleasantly surprise me because I didn't know enough to reject it outright.
"Sunshine" (the main character's nickname, and guess what, it's not meaningless) is just an ordinary 20-something slacker who works at a bakery. She decides to go down by the lake one evening, just to get away from it all, and is immediately captured by vampires.
Wait, what? Like, she knows about vampires? Yes. The details of the setting are not dumped on you all at once, or in expository prologues. Instead, we learn things a little at a time. This is not our world. This is an alternate world where magical creatures are real. Demons, weres, genies, angels, leprechauns, phoenixes, dragons, pretty much everything — and vampires.
The world avoids become Harry Potterish or silly because most of those creatures are only mentioned. Vampires are the only ones who figure into the plot. But we also learn that magic is real, and coexists with modern society, and this will become very significant.
So, Sunshine wakes up chained to a wall, with another vampire chained to a wall with her. Obviously she has been caught in the middle of some kind of vampire feud, and she's being dangled in front of the winning gang's captive as a snack. So she knows she's dead, because no one ever escapes from vampires.
And yet she does. And goes on to spend much of the book talking about baking and cinnamon rolls. Which was actually kind of neat, and made me hungry while listening.
This was actually a pretty good story, worldbuilding and vampires and all. The vamps are nasty critters, like vampires should be. Sunshine of course is special, and so is her vampire hottie, but it's a decent tale that seems to subvert a lot of the tropes you'd be expecting in this post-Twilight genre. Sunshine is actually pre-Twilight, which is too bad, since Sunshine, unlike Bella Swan, actually has a personality and does things.
Now, mind you, the book is still half contemporary fantasy/vampire story and half dark-undercurrents-of-hawt-brooding-sexuality between Broody McBiterperson and the ordinary young female protagonist.
Stripping away the unconsummated sexing (the most graphic the book gets is when bad boy Constantine gives our heroine a serious case of blue... ladybits), the story is only okay, the worldbuilding interesting if unexceptional, and the writing decent.
So, this is a nice solid 3.5 star book. Which is pretty darn high for me to rate a vampire romance.
Now, in fairness, it's not so much a romance. Constantine is still a vampire. McKinley does a good job of making him enigmatic and mysterious. It seems he's an "ethical" vampire — the conflict that sparks the plot is between him and a more traditional "master vampire" who's of the pure dark and evil recreational torture and slaughter variety. But does Constantine still kill humans? It's definite that he has in the past, and it's not clear whether he now manages to feed without killing. So he's kind of like Dexter, an improbably moral sociopath who couldn't exist in real life. (I mean, aside from being a vampire...)
But he's sure got more going for him than Edward Cullen.
The target audience for this book is unquestionably the same target audience as Twilight, girls who get hot at the thought of a good-looking but super-dangerous predatory monster who only she in all the world is safe to be with.
However, I repeat: Sunshine actually does stuff. And she bakes a mean cinnamon roll.
Narrator Laural Merlington was at her best narrating Sunshine. She captured Sunshine's emotions, from angry to terrified to frustrated, very well. Unfortunately, for all the male characters and most of the other women, she tended to use the same flat near-monotone.
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