Townhouse Books

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sunshine: Robin McKinley

I'm torn on how to feel about this book. McKinley's The Hero and the Crown was one of the defining books of my childhood. I still re-read it when I need some comfort. She's a subtle, wry, baroque writer. Occasionally slips into florid, in a good way. But her characters are complex, and sarcastic, and The Hero and the Crown is some of the best high fantasy -- best literature -- I've ever read.

That said...she's historically written high fantasy. Even Deerskin, a re-telling of a fable about abuse, manages to weave an atmosphere of helplessness despair without using extremely frank language. And I mean that in a good way.

This new one, Sunshine, is totally different. Several of the blurbs describe it as a good read for Buffy fans, and I'd agree, which is partially why I'm posting it here. It's engrossing and funny and told in the voice of a smart, dry-witted 19-year-old. But in a lot of ways, even though it's the most "adult" of her books in terms of language and sex, it doesn't quite seem as dense and layered as some of her "juvenile" literature.

I'd still call it heads and shoulders above your average fantasy read. But I'd also daresay that The Hero and the Crown, Deerskin, or The Door in the Hedge are better literature.

ETA: What a snotty way to end a review! I should say, "literature" as defined by my own personal tastes. Also read her retellings of Beauty and the Beast. And don't mistake this for a recommendation against reading Sunshine. It's just different than the books that first introduced me to her work. And how dare authors change, how dare they!


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