This was one of my favourite books when I was in my mid-teens, and I was very curious to see how I found it this time. Sunshine is a fairly ordinary woman, or so it seems, working as a baker at her family’s cafe, ducking out on family night because she’s restless. It takes a while for the post-apocalyptic, alternative world to become fully apparent: this is a world of supernatural creatures, magic-users, wards, and cops who are out to stake vampires and deal with any threats from the Others. Part of that sinks in because Sunshine is very quickly kidnapped by vampires, of course, but the rest of it trickles through in a fairly organic way.
Kidnapped by vampires? Oh yes. At the very start of the book, Sunshine finds herself kidnapped and taken to an old abandoned house, near a ‘bad spot’, where a chained vampire waits. Of course, she expects to be dinner immediately — that’s what humans expect from vampires — but it doesn’t quite work that way, and she finds herself drawn into an odd alliance with a creature who should be a mortal enemy. It feels beautifully done — their odd reliance on each other, while they still don’t fully understand or perhaps trust each other.
And of course, Sunshine isn’t actually just a normal woman. Her magic is based on sunlight, and it’s been growing within her silently since she was a child. Her escape with the vampire Con is just the beginning.
I really enjoy that Sunshine isn’t very heroic. She’s scared and she wants to bury her head in the sand. Deeply. She wants to knead bread and bake cakes and feed people, mostly, and having to be a hero and hang out with vampires is an unfortunate roadblock. She doesn’t want to use her magic, though she fears not being able to. She’s not brave, she’s just doing what she has to, step by step. She could be all gungho and ready to slay, but we have plenty of women like that in fiction now. One who is a baker and also a reluctant badass is a little bit different.
There’s so much untold about this world, so much I’d love to know. Mel’s background. What happened during the wars. What happened before. What happened to Sunshine’s father, and Sunshine’s grandmother. More about the cops with whom Sunshine has a fragile alliance. More about other types of magic user, more about Yolande, more about what happens to Sunshine and to Con…
But at the same time, there’s something rather enjoyable about the fact that it’s a one-and-done (thus far). You can imagine so much for yourself, and you never have to be disappointed. There’s so much potential.