Author: Robin McKinley
Genre: Fantasy (Alternate Reality)
Rae Seddon is a master baker who makes killer cinnamon rolls. Making killer cinnamon rols and being close to her few friends and family members is all Rae ever wanted out of life, but her life changes when she is caught by vampires, the worst of all the “other” creatures and held as bait for a very powerful vampire who has also been captured, Constantine. Rae escapes using her untapped magical powers and the sun (from where she gets her nickname, Sunshine.) Soon she is caught up in vampire troubles no one in her surroundings would understand except for her unlikely friend Constantine and must find a way to not only survive, but help the rest of mankind. SPOILER: Rae ends up killing Constantine’s rival vampire, Bo, and keeps the vampires from wiping out humanity for a little bit longer.
Geographical Setting: A small town in Middle America
Time Period: Alternate reality present day (2003)
The pace of the book varies between fast-paced energetic scenes, to reflective and explaining scenes so the reader knows what the rules of the alternate reality are. Rae, as the main character is introspective and well-developed. The storyline is mainly plot centered with character-driven moments when Rae must think things through. The tone is slightly dark as McKinley paints a vivid picture of what vampires are like. But, along with the dark tone, thre is hope shining through and the reader knows that good will eventually conquer. McKinley has a graceful style that draws readers in with her vocabulary and expressiveness.
Read-alikes: If you like vampire stories that are both character driven and explain alternate realities where vampire’s exist Twilight by Stephanie Meyer will be a great book for you. Bella moves to Forks WA and falls in love with Edward Cullen, whom she finds out is a vampire. She must learn how to deal with the conflicts their worlds present them. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast also by Robin McKinley is another book that focuses on the character of Beauty and how she has to survive in the beast’s castle. The story is more detailed than the originally fairytale version you may already know and again McKinley writes with a dark tone, but hope shining through. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris is the first book in a vampire series about Sookie and her love affair with a vampire. Harris develops both the character of Sookie and the alternate reality she lives in very well and the pace is also half compelling when looking for the town murderer and introspective wile explaining how this world works. Treasure Box by Orson Scott Card is another book you may be interested in because of it’s good characterization and the compelling plot and decision the main character has to make. Quintin Fears meets his dream woman, but when they decide to be more serious, he learns secrets about her family that he is not sure he wants to know. Bitten by Kelly Armstrong is about a woman named Elena who discovers her werewolf ties on the eve of her wedding night. Armstrong explores werewolf lore in a similarly dark way that McKinley explores vampire lore. Readers connect with the well-drawn character of Elena and are compelled to keep reading with the fast-paced action scenes.
Red Flags: Some scenes of bloody vampire violence, brief sexuality, and some language.