** spoiler alert **
When I saw this in the book store I was intrigued by the story... but apart from what it could have been, the author of this book has all but butchered it's possibilities.
The main character is called Rae Seddon (a.k.a Sunshine) who, needing to get away from her life for a little, decides to take a break by driving to the local lake for a respite. Before she knows it she is kidnapped by a gang of vampires who makes her strip, put on a red dress & shackles her to a wall in an abandoned mansion. Did I forget to mention that also shackled in the same room is another vampire who has been starved for a very, very long time? Interesting development, no?
Now Robin McKinley has created a very interesting world where the present is the after days of the Voodoo Wars, where humans along side demons, were-animals fought against the villainous vampires who now control most of the wealth of the world. A sort of uneasy peace governed by the SOF (considered the Vampire Police) has settled in Old Town where Sunshine lives, as humans know but ignore the fact that a lot of the population contains part bloods, humans who have half demon, fairy or were-animal in them. Sometimes it's appears harmlessly, like Mary who always pours hot coffee every time... but sometimes it can twist a person and make them psychotic, which is Sunshine greatest fear.
Sunshine considers herself a small changer, a person with the magic ability to change objects from one thing to another, like flowers into feathers but since meeting Constantine (Con) the vampire and during the course of following events Sunshine ends up finding out a lot more about herself, her mysterious family, her magical ability & vampires, more so than she ever wanted to know as she is quite happy pretending to be normal & to go along baking cinnamon rolls for the local coffee house for the rest of her life... yes, I know, how dull...
As I read the book I couldn't help but notice that Sunshine is one of 4 things during the course of the story: Fearful, Angry, Insanely Hysterical or Numb... and it's very hard to like her as a character. Sunshine's new acquaintance Con has the personality of statue but he's an old vampire, so it's a little easier to understand, though even he seems to have more depth to his character than Sunshine.
Now the author seems to overcompensate for Sunshine's lack of character by making her over explain everything in her thoughts. Most of the book is just paragraphs and paragraphs of Sunshine blathering on in an attempt to explain things that exist in her world that sometimes don't need explaining. What happened to leaving somethings out so the reader gets a chance to use their imagination. If you give use bits of information here and there I'm sure readers can connect the dots but no, the author seems to want to spoon feeds us, so the story often feels like it's taking painfully forever to get to the point.
I was often tempted to just skip to the end just to see if this Beauty & the Beast vs the Vampire World-esque story was worth reading but my need to know if Sunshine & Con would get beyond casual, if not painfully blase, friendship spurred me on.... Apart from an almost raunchy scene, I repeat almost raunchy, nothing happens between them besides the invisible bond they share since their time spent together as prisoners... somewhat disappointing, considering on the book's front cover is says "....A mesmerizing SF horror romance..." False advertising anyone?
If anything McKinley has managed to create something unlike any vampire book before and then gently smothered all it's possibilities while drowning it in her need to overspeak. Again, so disappointing.
Don't read this unless it's your absolute last resort and your very, very desperate.