Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Claudie is an old, dilapidated kitty.
Claudie is an old, dilapidated kitty.

Why I Read It: Read it years ago, loved it, and wanted to try it on audio.

Where I Got It: Own it via paperbackswap.com.

Who I Recommend This To: Urban fantasy fans.

Narrator: Laural Merlington

Publisher: Tantor Media (2008)

Length: 15 hours 23 minutes

Series: One can only hope McKinley will bless us with more books in this world.

Author’s Page

In the near future, the world as we know it is no longer. Now magic walks the streets or heats the coffee or is used to hunt those who feed on humanity in one form or another. Rae (aka Sunshine) barely graduated highschool and was quite ready to be done with it and go to work at the bakery full time. Her mother does the books there and her step-father is the owner and chief cook. Rae handles the bread and pastry items, getting up at the butt crack of dawn to go make hot, fresh bread goodies for the masses. It’s been more than a generation since magic burst out on the scene, so the US government has had time to create a new branch – the SOFs hunt down dangerous magic users. And after Ray spent a rather eventful night out by the haunted lake, they keep a sharp eye on her.

This is one of my favorite books and it was so great to revisit it in audio format. She’s 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 aren’t 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, Rae’s boyfriend. He also works at the bakery. His hobby is working on bikes and riding bikes and making love to Rae. He’s 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. There’s 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 don’t 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 Rae’s 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 father’s 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. Don’t particularly care for vampire stories? Yeah, me neither. But I love this book. It’s not about vampires; it’s 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 Rae’s Death by Bitter Chocolate.

The Narration: Merlington does a fantastic job with Ray’s 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.

What I Liked: Everything; Rae and her bakery skills; Mel and his mysterious tattoos; Constantine and all his secrets; the messy, messy way to end vampires; the SOFs and all their little secrets; Rae’s mysterious heritage.

What I Disliked: Nothing. I love this book. I hope Ms. McKinley adds another book or two in this world.

What Others Think:

Love Vampires

The Flyleaf Review

Strange Horizons

Sf Site

Urban Fantasy Land

The Obsessed Reader

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