Synopsis of "Sunshine" by Robin McKinley

by Marguerite Lance

Vampires have been a staple of fantastic literature for at least 200 years. Most recently, vampires have become a popular subject in young adult fiction. However, before there was Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series and "The Vampire Diaries," there was Robin McKinley's "Sunshine." "Sunshine" was published in 2003, and won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adults the following year.

Robin McKinley

Born in 1952, Robin McKinley is an American fantasy author, best known for her young adult books. McKinley currently lives in England with her husband, fellow author Peter Dickinson. As of 2011, McKinley had published 15 novels and has worked on four anthologies.

Genre Category

"Sunshine" straddles the line between young adult and adult fiction. Though it is frequently found in the science fiction and fantasy adult section in bookstores, "Sunshine" more recently was marketed and released as a young adult book. "Sunshine" was originally published in 2003 and was re-released in 2009. After the popularity of the "Twilight" series, "Sunshine" was released with a new cover and was identified as a young adult book.

Sunshine's World

"Sunshine" takes place in a magical world very much like our modern reality. Characters have cars and much of the story centers around the bakery where Sunshine makes her famous, big-as-your-head cinnamon rolls, but the world is full of vampires, werewolves, demons and magic. Prior to the start of the book, humans and the magical creatures -- particularly the vampires -- fought the "Voodoo Wars." During the course of the book, the vampires and humans continue to not get along.

The Beginning

One night, Sunshine is captured by vampires from her family's lake side cabin. She is taken to a mansion where Con, a vampire, is held captive by a rival gang of vampires. Their leader, Bo, desires that Con die from hunger and exposure to sunlight, and be tempted by Sunshine, whose chest is cut so she will bleed. Sunshine makes it through the first of her captivity by telling Con stories, but eventually they escape together. Sunshine has an undeveloped magical power, transmutation, which she uses to protect Con from sunlight.

The Middle

After Sunshine and Con escape from Bo's gang, Sunshine and Con continue to have a relationship that grows in spite of Sunshine being human and in a preexisting relationship. Additionally, Sunshine's friends and family are not impressed with her having a vampire for a friend. To make matters worse, Bo's gang continues to prove dangerous to Sunshine, Con and Sunshine's entire world.

The End

In order to prevent the vampires from overtaking the world, Sunshine decides to help the Con bring Bo's group down. However, in order to be successful, Sunshine finally comes to terms with her special abilities.


Though McKinley knows what happens to Sunshine after the novel ends and many fans have asked for a sequel, she says it is unlikely this will happen.


  • McKinley, Robin; Sunshine; 2003.

About the Author