March 3rd, 2009

Daughter of the Blood

This book is so cool! It's adult fantasy, so there's a little bedroom stuff involved, but the other parts are pure genius. There are three Realms: Terreille, Kaeleer, and Hell. Kaeleer has been out of contact with Hell and Terreille for centuries, and Terreille is being destroyed by the self-proclaimed High Priestess, Dorothea. Hell is where everyone who's too powerful to truly die goes when their bodies die. Two slaves, Lucivar and Daemon, who are also half brothers from their father's side, are searching for Witch, the born queen of the Realms. Daemon's born to be her lover; here's the catch: she's seven years old. So he has to struggle to keep her alive while Dorothea's sniffing around, and neither will stop until their goals are accomplished.

Sunshine, Robin McKinley

Cross-posted to my journal, as this is a series I'll be writing.

Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
Genre: Post-apocalyptic dark fantasy
Brief description: Sunshine just wants to bake cinnamon rolls for the rest of her life. That won't happen now, not after she comes face-to-face (by accident!) with the darkest of the Others: vampires.

Of course, we begin with my favorite.

When I first read this one (recently! back in 2006), I was disappointed. But then I read it again a month later because I could not get the story out of my head. Two months later I was standing in front of my bookcase after a truly atrocious first-read, and I reached for it to get the bad book taste out of my head.

I've always been afraid that rereading this one too often will make me lose my enjoyment of it, but to my delight, that's not the case. Every time I read it, I discover something new. As with her other titles (Deerskin, The Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword), McKinley selects each word with precision and weaves each sentence with incredible delicacy. Her characters ring true and you find yourself identifying with them.

Most of those to whom I have recommended Sunshine have liked it. There have been those who haven't been able to get past the first chapter, too. If you are familiar with her other work, the stream of consciousness first-person narrative can be occasionally challenging. McKinley's prose, regardless, is darkly witty throughout. (If she's anything like her protagonists, she is awesome.)

Oh, and before you turn your nose up re: the vampire thing. THIS is how vampires should be. Gut-wrenchingly scary. NOT sparkly, or fun, or even sexy. Vampires are terrifying and different and not-human in the most chillingly possible way. Here's a quote:

"If you've been kidnapped by the Darkest Others, you know it. In the first place, there's the smell. It's not at all a butchershop smell, as you might expect, although it does have the metallic blood tang to it. But meat in a butcher's shop is dead. I know this is a contradiction in terms, but vampires smell of live blood. And something else.... Your body knows it's prey even if your brain is fuddled by the Breath or trying not to pay attention. It's the smell of vampire, and your fight-or-flight instincts take over. There aren't many stories of those instincts actually getting you away though. At that moment I couldn't think of any." (pg 18)

Just about the only thing that makes me sad about this book is that (to quote McKinley herself) there will be no sequel. Damnation. McKinley is notorious for loose ends, and that's the case here as well, but part of this book's mystery is that its world is so, so much larger than can fit in one tiny 404 page book. There is enough world here to fill twenty of those.

And that's how I like them. It's a decidedly adult book, even more so than Deerskin, but well-worth the read.

Notable quotes under the cut. Don't read if you can't stand really mild spoilers.

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