In SUNSHINE, the title character—otherwise known as Rae—works at her family's diner, is famous for her cinnamon rolls and lives a settled, if mundane, life. Then she's kidnapped by vampires—an unfortunate but unsurprising turn of events.
In Robin McKinley's first fantasy for adults, vampires, werewolves and demons are commonplace. Ravaged by the Voodoo Wars, which pitted human against Other, this is a world where secret police roam the streets and smart humans stay in after dark. What's unique about Sunshine's run-in with vamps is that she escapes, something virtually unheard of, and ends up in league with a vampire who should be her enemy but needs her help to stay alive. Soon Sunshine is keeping secrets, aiding the secret police and conducting midnight meetings with humanity's mortal enemy—and still getting up at 4 am to make cinnamon rolls.
Sunshine is a compelling first-person narrator, though with a tendency to over explain. A feisty, sympathetic heroine and a supporting cast comprised of protective family members and eccentric townsfolk are hallmarks of a McKinley novel. This dark tale of supernatural horror and desire is highly recommended but definitely not for children. (Oct., 400 pp., $23.95)