Deerskin Paperback – May 3 2005
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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
This book is a novel-length retelling of a fairy tale, some McKinley has done very well, especially with Beauty and the Beast (see Beauty and Rose Daughter). However, this tale is a little more obscure than most, and the retelling is gruesome in the very best traditions of the Brothers Grimm. Only more so. The novel consists of two hundred relentless pages of death, incest, rape, pain, and misery. In an attempt to balance things out, the last page contains a wishy-washy, incomplete conclusion.
This is not a children's novel; most kids under the age of 13 would be deeply disturbed by it. It might appeal to some YAs and adults, provided they'd either a) had their senses pretty thoroughly numbed or b) positively enjoyed watching the pointless, hideous sufferings of others. For everyone else, it's an exercise in masochism.
Perhaps, then, it's fortunate that Deerskin contains some of McKinley's least compelling writing. The novel swells with fantasy style cliches, brims over with lifeless descriptions, and drowns in page after page of stolid, empty prose.
The only possible reason for reading this book is if you use novels to escape into a world even more miserable than your own. In that case, I canot recommend it highly enough. Otherwise, read something else. Anything else.
Yet, despite the brutality with which Princess Lissar's innocence is shattered, the tale is not unremittingly dark or horrifying. The Moonwoman offers Lissar hope and healing, as do the love of her dog and the kind people of the kingdom to which Lissar escapes. The ending may be predictable, but McKinley's warm portrayals of Lissar and her friends, as well as the fleethounds, are touching rather than trite.
Don't tell me that _Deerskin_ is too horrible to be a fairy tale. Too horrible for the sanitized, Disneyfied fairy tales that children are treated to nowadays, yes. The original versions of such tales as "Sleeping Beauty" and "Snow white" dealt with passion and blood and betrayal in magical trappings; the Victorians did not believe in coddling their children, it seems. In the original (or one of them), Sleeping Beauty is raped in her sleep; at the end of "Snow White," the wicked stepmother dances herself to death when red-hot shoes are put upon her feet. If anything, McKinley has revived that old power and redeemed it with hope and, yes, even a happy ending.
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 19 months ago by law
I came across this book as a "suggested read" in a self-help book for female survivors of childhood sexual abuse and I was intrigued that a fantasy book had made the list. Read morePublished on Aug. 31 2013 by katcosplay
this is a retelling of the story donkey skin. a short summery of the book would be; after the death of a girl's mother, her father abuses her out of grief and she runs away, and i... Read morePublished on May 5 2008 by elfdart
I think my true rating for this novel hovers somewhere between 3 and 4, and to be honest, having just finished this book -- I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. Read morePublished on Dec 11 2007 by Jana
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 finished rereading "Deerskin", which was part of the origins of my alias "Ash" on various music message board (like ChrisCaffery dot com - of the group "Savatage") Great... Read morePublished on July 6 2004 by Mary Gollihugh
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