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''Sunshine'' is a novel by Creator/RobinMcKinley. It tells the story of Rae "Sunshine" Seddon, a young woman who works in her stepfather's coffeehouse as a baker. The novel is set in a [[CrapsackWorld unpleasant]] [[NeverWasThisUniverse alternate reality]] about ten years after the Voodoo Wars. These wars left the world in rather a mess--"bad spots", effectively magical toxic waste spills, get mentioned several times.

The novel begins with a ten-page {{Infodump}} about the title character's life as a coffeeshop baker, followed by five pages of {{Expospeak}} about her world's [[OurVampiresAreDifferent vampires]]. After that, the book moves on with the plot: she wakes up in the forest, surrounded by vampires, who take her off to a large lake house where they have a rival vampire, Constantine, chained to the wall. Sunshine is being provided as his dinner, as part of an attempt to torture/corrupt his FriendlyNeighborhoodVampire tendencies out of him before killing him.

Unfortunately for the vampires, Sunshine's father was a sorcerer, and her grandmother taught her to use her heritage to transmute, which lets her make a key for her shackles. ''Really'' unfortunately for the vampires, Sunshine's world has [[ElementalPowers elemental magic]], and [[MeaningfulName Sunshine]]'s element is, well...such that even though she escapes during the day, she can take Constantine with her.

The rest of the book is concerned with fallout from her kidnapping (including a WoundThatWillNotHeal Without Vampiric BloodMagic, the intense interest of the [[OccultDetective Special Other Forces]], and [[FakingAmnesia partially-faked PTSD]]), and also with the fact that the gang of vampires who kidnapped her is run by a master vampire, Beauregard, who does not take their escape well. Fortunately for Sunshine, Constantine comes back and helps her deal with the problems, and being a mage with an affinity for sunshine does make it easier to kill the bad vampires, as well as save the good ones...

!!''Sunshine'' includes examples of the following tropes:

* ActionGirl: Reluctantly, but once Sunshine starts staking vampires with nothing more than a table knife or her ''bare hands'' she definitely qualifies.
* AdultFear:
** Sunshine's mother has this reaction when her daughter goes missing for several days, turns up with bleeding feet and a huge cut on her breast, and claims she doesn't remember what happened to her. She was also against the idea of her daughter moving out when living at home would be more convenient and safer.
** Vampires generally have no qualms about knocking out their prey, regardless of age, and carrying them away to feed on later. Sunshine saves a teenage girl from suffering this fate.
** Also Sunshine's mother suffered this in the past after leaving her husband with no money, and no support from his family or hers. She then had to contend with a sick child, since the apartment they were living in was a basement, and Sunshine needs sunlight to be healthy.
* AFriendInNeed: Many.
* AfterActionPatchUp: Constantine, after the escape.
* AntiHero: Constantine. He's a vampire, with all that implies, but he doesn't do anything particularly evil in the book; other, much nastier vampires are out to destroy him implicitly because he's unusually nice. He's still off-putting, reticent, prideful, extremely violent (in a pinch and against other vampires), all but says he's drained people's blood in the past, and takes quite a while to become comfortable with Sunshine -- almost as long as it takes for her to become comfortable with him.
* {{Arcadia}}: New Arcadia was once a backwater, and is still surrounded by nature.
* BadassBiker: Mel. He fought in the Voodoo Wars and has magical tattoos with unusual and unspecified functions.
* BadassFamily: The Blaises are implied to be one.
* BadDreams: After the kidnapping.
* BettyAndVeronica: With a BadassBiker as a Betty to a FriendlyNeighborhoodVampire Veronica.
* BeyondTheImpossible: Sunshine's narration explains that successfully staking a vampire is actually very difficult and specifically requires an iron or wooden stake, preferably of a particular type of wood, to stand any chance of being effective. Thus, when she manages to kill a vampire with an ordinary metal ''table knife'', everybody takes notice.
* BlessedWithSuck:
** Being partially demonic is more of a curse than a gift due to FantasticRacism. Sunshine mentions how a star athlete she knew lost all of his scholarships and trophies after he found out he had demonic heritage. Also, the SOF is more likely to forcibly recruit you because it's "rotten" with partblood demons.
** Sunshine's luckier in that she's a magic handler, and magic handlers merely need a license and training. Even so, she hates that her affinity for sunlight makes her ''really'' good at killing vampires, especially when she and Con manage to escape Bo. She doesn't want to kill, ever.
** Con's healing rite heals the poisoned cut on Sunshine's chest, so she won't die of it; she even gains some of his abilities. However, it involved drinking a doe's blood (with Con as the vessel) when Sunshine is very staunchly a vegetarian, it conferred some of his vampiric nature upon her and she really doesn't want that, and seeing the way vampires do turns out to be annoying because she can see equally clearly in light and shadow and her brain just can't parse it properly. Con, for his part, isn't thrilled about picking up some of Sunshine's humanity [[spoiler:and is severely weakened by the rite... and then the metaphysical link forged between them saves ''his'' life. Which he feels awkward about]].
* BookDumb: Sunshine (true more to the spirit of the trope than the name; she's a fan of books). She may have barely graduated high school, but she also survives ''three'' encounters with vampires.
* TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive: Which Sunshine realizes while dealing with the giant cut on her breast and skewering a vampire with a metal table knife. If she and Con don't deal with Bo before Bo finds her, then she may as well say goodbye to her bakery life. And her life, period.
* TheCavalryArrivesLate: And puts them under arrest due to Sunshine being in a state of hysteria and [[spoiler: covered in Bo's blood]].
* CheerfulChild: Paulie, Sunshine's apprentice. It annoys her when he starts to whistle.
* ChefOfIron: Sunshine.
* CloseKnitCommunity: The coffeehouse and its customers.
* CompellingVoice: The media puts an electronic effect onto vampire voices, just in case it turns out they can do this.
* CollectorOfTheStrange: Constantine's deceased Master/sire. Unlike Con, he liked to accrue physical things, especially magical objects. His taste was very... baroque, and Sunshine spends some time making fun of it.
* CoolOldLady: Sunshine's landlady Miss Yolande.
* CowardlyLion: Sunshine considers herself a "wimp", but she doesn't like bullies and rescues a girl from a vampire.
* CrapsackWorld: "I think the [myth of the] phoenix has at least a fifty-fifty chance of being true, because it's nasty. What this world doesn't have is the three-wishes, go-to-the-ball-and-meet-your-prince, happily-ever-after kind of magic. We have all the mangling and malevolent kinds. Who ''invented'' this system?"
* CycleOfRevenge: Bo is supposedly out to kill Con because Con killed Bo's Master; Con did that because Bo's Master killed ''his'' Master. Con implies that, while those deeds were committed, the feud is actually an excuse to get rid of him before his ideas about surviving without a gang spread to Bo's followers and reduce Bo's power.
* DamselOutOfDistress: When she gets kidnapped, Sunshine calls on her long-unused powers to not only rescue herself but also forge a friendship with FriendlyNeighborhoodVampire Con as she rescues him too. ''In broad daylight'', which is supposed to be impossible.
* DarkIsEvil: The vampires are all about darkness. A human under a vampire's thrall is said to be "under the dark".
* DisappearedDad: Sunshine's father, Onyx Blaise, mysteriously disappeared many years ago. No one knows what happened to him. No, we don't find out, either.
* ElementalPowers: Magic-users are described as usually having a particular elemental affinity which gives them resistance to things that element opposes or neutralizes. The most common ones are (of course) fire, air, water, and earth, but metal and wood are also known possibilities. The title character's is, appropriately, sunlight, which is an unusual affinity falling somewhere between air and fire and "something else".
* EmotionEater: Dabbled with; vampires can draw sustenance from tears in place of blood, although it is weaker.
* TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt: Averted during the Voodoo Wars (fifteen years before the book starts) but expected to happen within a century after the book ends -- the vampires will own humanity, and all we'll be to them is livestock.
* EnemyMine: Sunshine initially views her rescue of Con as this and freaks out about helping a species that is AlwaysChaoticEvil, at least in the media. Later on she develops a genuine bond with him.
* {{Expospeak}}: Sunshine often digresses from the main plot to explain details of her world -- we find out, for example, that the man who invented the test for demonic ancestry that SOF uses discovered quickly that he himself was a partblood, quit before he could be fired, and spent the rest of his life breeding roses with ridiculous names.
* FakingAmnesia: Sunshine pretends she has PTSD that made her forget or block her memories after escaping from being held captive by vampires. Mostly she ''does'' have PTSD but she hadn't forgotten anything, she just didn't want to talk about it or explain A) why she saved a vampire and B) ''how'' she saved a vampire.
* FantasticRacism: Humans with demon ancestors (partbloods) tend to have a lot of trouble getting and holding jobs or promotions.
* FilmTheHand: Sunshine does this to avoid being filmed by an overly zealous reporter. At the time, she didn't know whether vampires would be watching the broadcast, and she was still desperately [[RefusalOfTheCall trying to make things go back to normal]].
* FireForgedFriends: Or allies, at least. Because Sunshine rescues Con, he helps her escape without getting tracked. In this universe, that actually creates a metaphysical bond that they both have to deal with. Very awkwardly.
* FluffyTheTerrible: A mild example. The evil vampire's name is Beauregard, and his nickname is Bo. Sunshine comments that it sounds like a name someone would give their sheepdog.
* FoodAsBribe: Inverted; if you eat Sunshine's food, she becomes your friend. This is a problem with Con because he doesn't eat pastries; his least creepy meals are raw meat and bottled water.
* FriendlyNeighborhoodVampire: Most vampires form gangs and torture humans in order to taste the fear in their blood when they finally get around to eating them. Constantine may be creepy, and has experimented with the nastier ways of being a vampire in the past, but we never see him hurt a human, and he has a several opportunities. This behavior means Constantine is both unusually powerful and independent, since he has no problems moving around (other vampires his age have become so corrupted over the years that they can't come outside ''at all'', even during the darkest nights, because the faint light from the stars is enough to harm them. They rely on their gangs to get things done). Sunshine's never heard of any others like Con, though, so they're either very rare or very secretive.
* GirlNextDoor: The magic-wielding, vampire-slaying version.
* GoneHorriblyRight: Sometimes Sunshine makes dishes ''too'' well. She remembers making a fluffy pudding with a thick fruit filling that earned the name Death of Marat; it was so popular that she got sick of making it, since it's a "brute" to make fluffy puddings with heavy fillings. A similar thing happens with cherry tarts after Charlie gets her a cherry pitter when the fruit is in season.
* HypnoticEyes: You never, ''ever'' look into a vampire's eyes. Things get very weird for Sunshine when that no longer works on her.
* IAmAMonster: Sunshine struggles with this through the book, first as she helps Con escape from Bo since humans do not rescue vampires, and later as [[spoiler: she gains Con's vampiric abilities and becomes (she believes) tainted from killing Bo.]]
* IGaveMyWord: She worries when Constantine does not show up on time. He had said he would. [[spoiler:She's right to worry.]]
* IKnowYourTrueName: Vampires use name magic. Constantine laughs at the narrator for asking him his name, and later reveals it as a gesture of trust. Unlike most works, in ''Sunshine'', the name is the name -- or names -- you use. The narrator is as vulnerable through her nickname "Sunshine" as through her legal name ("Rae Seddon"), and more so than through her birth name ("Raven Blaise"). [[spoiler: Fortunately for Sunshine, she hasn't used "Raven" in years, and old and evil vampires can't even ''say words'' related to sunlight...]]
* ImpostorExposingTest: When Sunshine and Con are being interrogated by the police, Con is exposed to sunlight as they suspect of him being a vampire. Sunshine manages to use her magic to keep him from frying and hence passing the test.
* JustBeforeTheEnd: The human race is still hanging on, but only just.
* LadyInRed: Sunshine is dressed in a blood-red dress before being given to Constantine. This could be metaphorical as red = availability and she is available to be eaten. Since vampire blood taking has long been seen as a metaphor for sex...
* TheLastDance: When Sunshine realizes she has two days before she has to face Bo and end the conflict, she does this. Her list is as follows: eat an entire pan of Bitter Chocolate Death (which she can't finish), buy several dozen roses, and not tell anyone that she's going on a SuicideMission.
* LightIsGood: Or at least used by the protagonist to destroy an unquestionably evil vampire.
* LockedOutOfTheLoop: ''Everyone'' except Sunshine knows about her family heritage. While technically she does know, it's been a very long time and she's deliberately forgotten most of it.
* MadeOfIron: Vampires are vulnerable to sunlight, but the only other known way to destroy one is to stake it through the heart. This is harder in this universe than in some others, because vampires are extremely fast and have fully-functional rib cages and breastbones protecting the heart. You get one shot, and if you miss, you die. Also? The stake ''has got to be'' wood or wrought iron, preferably wood from an apple tree with mistletoe growing on it; try with anything else, and you won't even get that one shot.
* MayflyDecemberRomance: Sort of. At the very least, Sunshine and Con have a very strong platonic bond due to them saving each other.
* MeaningfulName: Sunshine. It's a nickname, but it's been assimilated so thoroughly by everyone who knows her that nobody calls her anything else.
* MeaningfulRename: Sunshine's birth name is Raven Blaise, but her mother made a dedicated effort to bury that name after the disappearance of Sunshine's father and her remarriage to Charlie Seddon. Raven Blaise therefore became Rae Seddon, and by the time the book starts everyone knows her as "Sunshine."
* TheMentor: Sunshine's beloved grandmother taught her the basics of transmuting, but disappeared after the Voodoo Wars.
* MuggingTheMonster: Lampshaded by Con when Sunshine tells him her real name. If he had drunk her blood, as Bo had intended while they were chained side by side, he would have become powerful enough to wipe the latter out in a few days. Sunshine by herself proves to be quite a formidable threat once she and Con escape.
* MustBeInvited: Here's an interesting little wrinkle to the traditional rules, where are also in play: a vampire can't do much to a human that the human doesn't ''want'' them to do. Unfortunately, vampires have such powerful mental domination abilities that they can indeed convince a human to be eaten by vampires. (Sunshine muses a little on if this applies to [[PowerPerversionPotential other forms of invitation]]. It turns out it does, but vampires don't bother having sex with humans.)
* MyBelovedSmother: Sunshine's mother comes off as this, wanting her daughter to move back home. Sunshine mentions arguing with her mother frequently.
* NatureLover: Constantine's stated motive for living near New Arcadia.
* NeverWasThisUniverse: Simply very similar.
* NoEnding: The book ends with several secondary threads LeftHanging ([[DisappearedDad the disappearance of the Blaises]], Mel's DarkAndTroubledPast, the goddess of pain, Sunshine and Constantine's [[NoRomanticResolution romance]] etc.), but the main plot points (the threat of Beauregard and Sunshine's struggle to accept magic as a part of herself) are more or less resolved. It's actually a great ending, but there's plenty of material for a sequel.
** [[WordOfGod McKinley]] herself has quite a bit to say on this, especially on her blog posts [[http://robinmckinleysblog.com/2008/12/02/there-is-no-sequel-to-sunshine here]] and [[http://robinmckinleysblog.com/2009/05/13/entitlement here]].
* NoodleIncident: Con is capable of feats that are said to be impossible for a vampire of his age and strength -- his ability to move around in strong moonlight being the most obvious. It's implied that this is because he has rejected the darker ways of being a vampire (and in doing this he upsets the nastier sort, who don't want their underlings to get ideas), but we never get an explicit explanation. More amusingly, the reason ''why'' pissing off were-skunks is a bad idea gets left to the reader's imagination.
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: "The goddess of pain," who, ironically enough, is ''completely correct'' in suspecting Con to be a vampire.
* OccultDetective: Special Other Forces (SOF). As befits TheUnmasquedWorld, they're a fully-funded non-secret government agency described as cops for the nonhumans.
* OurDemonsAreDifferent: Although we never see any full-blooded demons, we do see a few humans with demon ancestry who have things like extra teeth, horns, the habit of turning blue when they hold their breaths, and so on. SOF has some impressive technology designed to ensure that they hire only pure-blooded humans. [[spoiler:Part-bloods have varied and equally-impressive means of getting around said technology, and quite a few of them work for SOF.]]
* OurWerebeastsAreDifferent: Were-chickens, were-rats, were-''skunks'' and others. Werewolves exist but are relatively rare. Drugs exist to suppress the Change, though they are illegal.
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: Vampires are much less human in ''Sunshine'' than in most works, and they get progressively less human as they age. This process apparently is much slower for FriendlyNeighborhoodVampires than for the other kind: Constantine can deal with twilight and moonlight, and most vampires his age can't.
* ThePowerOfTheSun: Sunshine's powers.
* TheQuietOne: When Constantine says things, he's definite about them. Otherwise he'd rather say nothing. You get "Yes," and "No," and not much else unless he's really excited. He also has a tendency toward BrutalHonesty; Sunshine wonders if she could teach him to say "Perhaps," or the comforting words humans say when they're worried.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Charlie Seddon as the owner of Charlie's and Sunshine's stepdad. He's able to calm her down when she's in a bad mood and fends off the press. However, she can't tell him about Con.
* RefusalOfTheCall: Sunshine doesn't really want to be a SOF agent, but she can off suckers with common household utensils, and they want her out there doing it.
* ShellShockedVeteran: Sunshine becomes one after she and Con escape from Bo. It only gets worse as she skewers a vampire with a table knife, and by the end she's convinced that [[spoiler: killing Bo has tainted her]].
* TalkAboutTheWeather: Yolanda does this very well.
* ThroughHisStomach: In the generalized form.
* TookALevelInBadass: Rae when she starts using her magic again [[spoiler: as she helps Con escape along with her]].
* TrademarkFavoriteFood: Favorite dish; Sunshine's speciality is "cinnamon rolls as big as your head."
* TheUnmasquedWorld: Everyone sort of woke up to the existence of magic, vampires, werecreatures and demons before or during the war that wiped out most of the normal humans.
* UnreliableExpositor: Some of Sunshine's {{Expospeak}} is later revealed to be mistaken; see e.g. WizardsLiveLonger below. Sometimes she even contradicts herself without external help, e.g. first she says that by handling magic without a license she committed the kind of crime that SOF really hates, but a bit later she tells us that the licensing thing was piffle. Several times she also [[DiscussedTrope discusses]] the fact that not everything she thought she knew is turning out to be true ("Where did sorcerers get their tattoos? Maybe I didn't know anything anymore.")
* UnresolvedSexualTension: With Con.
* WickedStepmother: Completely averted. Sunshine loves her stepdad Charlie, and even took his last name. He gave her mom a job, and her a place in the kitchen when she was old enough to handle responsibility. Sunshine has more issues with her biological mother, while Charlie serves as a buffer between them.
* WizardsLiveLonger: Sunshine has always thought of this trope as wish fulfilment. She learns from a retired professional magic handler that while most ordinary magic handlers won't notice much difference, those who are powerful and steep themselves in magic can live to be very old indeed. This is not a cheerful thought, given that TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt is predicted within the next century. If she continues doing what she does but doesn't do it well enough, she might live to see it.
* WoundThatWillNotHeal: Sunshine gets one. It takes BloodMagic to heal it.
* AYearAndADay: How long her mother kept her warded from her father's family
* YourCheatingHeart: Sunshine has a boyfriend the entire book. Still doesn't keep her from [[spoiler: having some pretty intense moments, including something that could only count as foreplay, with Con. It doesn't go anywhere definite; though Sunshine makes it clear that she's attracted to him, Con is resistant for reasons that, as usual, he isn't interested in explaining.]]
* YouthIsWastedOnTheDumb: Trying to spot vampires, for instance.
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