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From Library Journal
Heir to her late mother's legendary beauty, Princess Lissar becomes the victim of her grief-maddened father's desire. Fleeing her home, she seeks solace and solitude in a great forest--and discovers a magic that leads her toward healing and justice. Loosely based on "Donkeyskin," an obscure fairy tale by Charles Perrault, this story of a young woman's survival and recovery is both a classic hero's journey-tale and a parable for modern times. Award-winning YA author McKinley turns her storytelling acumen and stylistic grace toward an adult audience, handling incest and rape with unflinching honesty while at the same time building a case for hope and renewal. A good choice for fantasy collections.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
A first foray into adult fantasy for the author of such well- received children's books as The Outlaws of Sherwood (1988), etc. In an unnamed, standard fantasy kingdom, an unnamed queen dies after bequeathing to her unnamed king a portrait capturing her surpassing beauty. Their daughter, the princess Lissla Lissar, is the very image of her mother, even to her black-red hair. On Lissar's 17th birthday, the king announces that he will marry his daughter! Horrified, Lissar locks herself away, but the king breaks in to beat and rape her. Barely alive, Lissar escapes with her dog Ash to find sanctuary in the mountains. The moon goddess, the ``Lady,'' heals Lissar--suppressing the dreadful memories, changing her hair to white, giving her a stainless white deerskin dress--and four years pass in what seems a day. Now Lissar enters a neighboring kingdom, where she meets the dog-fancying prince Ossin. As she slowly regains her memory, so she falls in love with Ossin, who proposes. Unable to tell him of her past, Lissar again flees into the mountains, returning the following year ready to denounce her father, regain her black-red hair, and marry Ossin. Turgid, lurid, soporific fluff. Might have made an adequate fairy tale at a twentieth of the bulk. McKinley will have to do much better than this to capture an adult audience. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Was it the best thing I've ever read? Certainly not. It dragged in parts - especially when it came to the minutiae concerning dog raising - and could have easily told the same story in a third the length. However, when it came to dealing with the topics of betrayal and lost innocence that come with child abuse, McKinley did an absolutely remarkable job. She treated the subject tenderly and with real heart and everything about Lissar's journey of healing and self-discovery resonated very deeply within me. I appreciated that the romance aspect was "unsatisfactory" as some reviews have said, because it felt realistic and keeping with everything that Lissar was going through.
I do wish McKinley had spent more time refining the climax of the story and tying up loose ends that she started and never quite finished instead of spending SO much time explaining little unimportant details of the main character's day-to-day life, but overall I was very moved by this book and I would recommend it for ANYONE who has had experience with Lissar's trauma.
there is an odd obsession with dogs in this book, as the girl (princess) has her own dog and also takes care of the prince's puppies. i don't have a dog or care about them much, so while fascinating, this part of the book didn't really draw me in and dragged on a bit at parts. there was a nice symbolism present and the heroine did regain a sense of herself and an acceptance of herself by the end of the book. overall not my favourite read, but decent. worth it if you put in the time, but nothing mind blowing.
-- In the begining, I really enjoyed the somewhat vague voice of Lissar as it seemed to fit well with the fairy tale elements of the novel, but by the end I found it frustrating, as despite the very detailed descriptions of pain, sorrow, misery, etc. we were given, I never felt as though I actually got to know anything about her.
-- Why did her physical healing seemingly take an insanely long amount of time? Months? Years? She really spends five years in the mountains??? Why does it seem only like one winter before spring arrives and Lissar ventures from her hut again?
-- I like my villains fully developed. The father was not. In the end as she confronts him -- it's very dissapointing. I would have liked a greater insight into his mind.
-- I really wish that Ash had been made a male dog instead, because I couldn't distinguish in many sentences whether Lissar or Ash were being refferred to!
-- The writing is quite beautiful and intelligent and suprisingly free of cliches, especially considering this is a fantasy novel -- but it could have done with some more careful editing because many sentences are rather clunky and confusing.
-- As Lissar is an only child and the princess and heir of a vast and rich kingdom, I find it hard to believe that either her parents or court would have actually neglected her to the point that they did.
-- Her journey of self-discovery and healing is the essential part of this novel, but did it have to be so LONG and REPETITIVE?
-- The romance was dissapointing. Very, very dissapointing.Read more ›
Good font, easy one the eyes for anyone with less than perfect vision.
Smooth writing style, great rewrite and update of the fairy tale "Donkeyskin", which I now wish to find!
Recommeded for anyone that has a fondness for animals, primarily dogs. If you have a greyhound ("Fleethounds" in this story) or know of one, you can see that the perspective is excellent. Please e-mail me if you are interested in rescuing a greyhound - in real life, October is the Killing Month, since that is when the racing season is over. Perhaps having had a greyhound makes this story even better, closer to the heart, for me.
Good characters (a few slips in the logic area) with a touch of mythology. (the Lady, Moonwoman etc)
The premise starts with a "true love" story of the 'most beautiful woman in seven kingdoms', and the man that wins her heart ... these two people, royals at that, are so in love to the exclusion of every one else ... they make an excellent team as King and Queen ... what is left for their daughter?
She is smart, but one really cares or notices until after the Queen dies. Lissar, the princess, and her true friend, the fleethound "Ash", stumble through the king's dementia over the loss of his queen, giving Lissar memories that she dares not remember. She takes the name of "Deerskin" after being gifted "the gift of time" as well as a few other things (such as a white deerskin dress that never needs cleaning - oh I wish!)
Some sexually explicit scenes., so it isn't suitable for young children, but reads as easily as a YA book.
Definately a 4.5 star book, one I recommend, and is a reread and a keeper.
For anyone grieving a loss, the truth is often that the only true thing that will help is that gift of time.
Most recent customer reviews
A strong tale of survival and healing, this book has some parts that, despite not being explicit, are very difficult to read. Read morePublished 17 months ago by law
Well, I will admit that I didn't really like reading all of part one, mainly at the beginning becuase all it was was explaining a bunch of stuff that I pesonally realy didn't think... Read morePublished on Nov. 15 2005
I just loved Robin McKinley's 'The Blue Sword', it is one of my favorite books of all time. Her book about Aerin was Okay, not one of my favorites, so I did read some of the... Read morePublished on June 11 2004
I've read Deerskin at least four times! I find it extremely interesting and enjoyable. There is a rape scene, which can be disturbing, but isn't as graphic or... Read morePublished on May 30 2004 by Rachel
I love this book. I've read it 4 times.
It begins like a classic fairy tale as the Princess Lissla Lissar learns about the courtship and marriage of her parents. Read more
It's the tale of your usual most-beautiful-princess - with a twist. Her father decides to marry her after her mother's death, the tale has a rather graphic assault scene to end... Read morePublished on April 15 2004 by Essay
While I wouldn't go so far as to say this book was excellent, I would have no qualms about giving it to children just because of the incest themes. Read morePublished on March 29 2004 by Nonesuch Explorers
If you're looking at this because you're a fan of the other McKinley books, I'd skip it. It has a disturbing rape scene at the beginning & is definetly not for children. Read morePublished on Feb. 17 2004 by Michele Slack