I like Sunshine very much; with a few re-readings and some years of life together, I may come to love it, buy a hardcover and take it with me when I move, which is the definite mark of commitment. I'm still kind of wondering why it worked so well for me, but I could probably pinpoint it if I thought about it long enough: it's related with the cinnamon rolls. I like people who can build things with their own hands, and if it's with food or nature all the better. In one of my favourite childhood books, a group of ten-years old moved to an island and survived on what they could get. Enid Blyton, what followed is so not how a similar situation would turn out in real life. And I don't mind repetition in that context- truth is repetitive. Water a plant, raise a puppy, do your laundry, and you'll be doing the same gesture 1000 times.
Robin McKinley has that inclination; and she also gave a voice to Sunshine that sounded grounded enough to be a convincing backdrop to vampires and general magic hokum. Coupled with a genuinely interesting structure -the first 100 pages work as a very good self-standing paranormal short-story-, and the feeling that McKinley took a pen and the story wrote itself, and Sunshine is way better that any other vampire book that I have ever read. She is such a generous writer: Sunshine has a plethora of characters and themes that could have yielded so much more if she had wanted to, but she never milked anything dry. A sequel seems now unlikely, but it had more justification that the vast majority of fantasy series that do get one.
But I don't like her fairytales retellings. I'm also not sure why, except that things are made explicit that I wish were still subtext. They don't give me the feeling of mystery that I loved when I was a child. Deerskin, which I just read and is the reason why I'm writing this instead of heading off to class, is a fantasy novel centered about incest and rape; and while it's sensitively done, it hasn't worked for me. I don't think the balance between magic, many and various deux ex machina, and horrible reality is as elegant as it could have been. I wasn't that much into Beauty either- I'm starting to believe it's a culture clash with America; maybe it's me. I dislike it if I can't see the forests of France and Germany in the Middle Ages in my fairytales. But I am disappoint- I wanted to be more than a one-McKinley-book kind of girl.