Buffyesque baker Rae "Sunshine" Seddon meets Count Dracula's hunky Byronic cousin in Newbery-Award-winner McKinley's first adult-and-then-some romp through the darkling streets of a spooky post–Voodoo Wars world. Now that human cities have been decimated, the vampiric elite holds one-fifth of the world's capital, threatening to control all the earth in less than 100 years, unless human SOFs (Special Other Forces) can hold them at bay by recruiting Sunshine, daughter of legendary sorcerer Onyx Blaise. As breathlessly narrated by Sunshine herself, the Cinnamon Roll Queen of Charlie's Coffeehouse, in the inchoate idiom of Britney, J. Lo and the Spice Girls, Sunshine's coming-of-magical-age launches when she is swarmed by noiseless vampires one night and chained in a decrepit ballroom as an entrée for mysterious, magnetic, half-starved Constantine, a powerful vampire whose mortal enemy Bo (short for Beauregard) shackled him there to perish slowly from daylight and deprivation. Most of the charm of this long venture into magic maturation derives from McKinley's keen ear and sensitive atmospherics, deft characterizations and clever juxtapositions of reality and the supernatural that might, just might, be lurking out there in "bad spots" right around a creepy urban corner or next to a deserted lake cabin. McKinley knows very well—and makes her readers believe—that "the insides of our own minds are the scariest things there are." (Oct. 7)
Forecast: The 21st-century girl chatter juxtaposed with the book's 19th-century brooding hero should help turn out the Buffy crowd in droves on the national author tour.
Release date: 09/01/2003