I've never been much for horror or vampire books. I did read a few after
seeing Frank Langella's mesmerizing performance in Dracula* (left), but they didn't really interest me. So, when I recently found a new book (for me), Sunshine, by one of my favorite fantasy authors, Robin McKinley, I was discomfited to find that it had to do with vampires. Do I read it because I liked her other books (Beauty, Rose Daughter), or do I not since I didn't care for other vampire novels? The books I'd read of hers were beautiful, and how could she accomplish that with a vampire book - the dining habits would get in the way.
I decided to give it a try, and I was hooked by the first page:
Monday evening is our movie evening because we are celebrating having lived through another week. Sunday night we lock up at eleven or midnight and crawl home to die, and Monday (barring a few national holidays) is our day off. Ruby comes in on Mondays with her warrior cohort and attacks the coffeehouse with an assortment of high-tech blasting gear that would whack Godzilla into submission: those single-track military minds never think to ask their cleaning staff for help in giant lethal marauding creature matters. Thanks to Ruby, Charlie's Coffeehouse is probably the only place in Old Town where you are safe from the local cockroaches, which are approximately the size of chipmunks. You can hear them clicking when they canter across the cobblestones outside.
The main character is a baker at the coffeehouse, and the plot goes back and forth between the very everyday world there and the larger world outside - where the Voodoo Wars with the Others (vampires, etc.) are already past, though a cold war continues. In the way her book goes back and forth between a contemporary everyday setting and the magical, it reminds me of Charles DeLint's Little Country or Pamela Dean's Tam Lin.
There is beauty in this book, both in relationships and in descriptions (though the vampire world, overall, is mostly cold and disgusting). I haven't rushed through this book (unusual for me); it's the sort to savor - though not the sort to read at bedtime when dear husband is away.
* Kate Nelligan's charming performance as Lucy is also part of what makes the 1979 Dracula work (and Sir Laurence Olivier's as Van Helsing). I like her character - not one of those sit-around-and-wait sorts of heroines!
I couldn't find any scenes from the movie on YouTube, but I did find this music video which works very well to give a feel for the romantic side of the movie. It is an R rated Dracula movie, though the scenes in the video are no more than PG-13. In other words, you may not want small children to watch this with you!
Here's a link to another music video which shows more of the rest of the plot.
[If you're a 1979-Dracula-fan, here's a long article about the making of the movie.]
[And that's about as much horror as I'll ever have in this blog!]