Always a fan of Ms. McKinley, I knew going in that this story would be a bit dark. I didn't realize it was a picture book. I figured it was a short story. It's a beautifully illustrated story which is probably not recommended for young children. Definitely not children who are Disney lovers and expect rainbows and sunshines.
There is magic in this tale, but I'm hesitant to share too much because it would be a spoiler. Suffice to say that Maddy encounters a paranormal being which changes her mind about somethings. With the fey, it is always a wee bit dangerous to become involved with one. I'm not sure why fairy tales in our modern age end with Happily Ever Afters because the original ones do not. They were stories of caution and usually with a deadly morale to the story. I do prefer the original fairy tales.
This story is a bit short and came across more like a "midsummer night's dream". The slightly dream like quality with an open ended... ending leaves a reader a bit... unsatisfied. Although truth be told there are several books Ms. McKinley leaves in this manner. Sometimes she just tires of a story and leaves it as it. Sunshine is probably one of the most well written one of her stories that will never see another book in that series. This one, is set in the same world as the The Blue Sword... but that is all the connection that exists. This picture book is recommended to fans of Ms. McKinley.