Deerskin
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Deerskin

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  13,141 ratings  ·  808 reviews
As Princess Lissar reaches womanhood, it is clear to all the kingdom that in her breathtaking beauty she is the mirror image of her mother, the queen. But this seeming blessing forces her to flee for safety from her father's wrath. With her loyal dog Ash at her side, Lissar unlocks a door to a world of magic, where she finds the key to her survival - and an adventure beyon...more
Paperback, 309 pages
Published July 1st 1994 by Ace (first published June 1st 1993)
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Lizzi Crystal
This book strikes such a discord in me that I have to start reviewing before actually finishing it. Halfway through, the writing is beautiful, exquisite, but circles around and repeats itself so often I was on page 90 before anything had actually happened, which would be fine, except for the hazy treatment of rape and incest. It doesn't capture the seriousness or tragedy.

...And having finished it, I think the same. Boring is a mild word for it - I've never read anything that dragged, and dragge...more
Annie
McKinley has covered many fairytales in her novels, but this is the one that haunts me the most.
Based on Perrault's "Donkeyskin" Deerskin is the story of princess Lissla Lissar, daughter of the most beautiful woman in the world. Her mother's dying request is that her husband only marry a woman as beautiful as her - and that becomes her daughter.
(view spoiler)...more
Barks & Bites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gloria Mundi
Having just read and adored McKinley's Sunshine and The Blue Sword when I started this book, I was full of love for the author and expecting great things. This book is a re-telling of the Donkeyskin fairytale, which I actually do remember from when I was little, though I have to say the incestuous subtext did go completely over my head when I was 5.

Princess Lissar Lisslar is a lonely and awkward child who grows up obscured by the shadow of her glorious parents who are so completely obsessed wit...more
Lake Oz Fic Chick
With Deerskin, Robin McKinley moved from writing award-winning children’s fiction (The Hero and the Crown) to writing adult fantasy. In fact, this novel is so adult (the story includes rape and incest) that McKinley says it’s the only book for which she’s received hate mail. Inspired by aspects of “Donkeyskin,” a little-known fairy tale by Charles Perrault, the journey of heroine Lissla Lissar is a harrowing but deeply affecting story about the power of love and the possibility of healing from t...more
Sandra
Jul 19, 2011 Sandra rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone not afraid of emotional agony.
Recommended to Sandra by: NPR
Shelves: fantasy
Oh my, I scarcely know what to say about this book. It's actually not quite 5 stars, but I'd feel bad only giving it four.

It's wrenching, maddening, lyrical, unflinchingly honest in the way of fairy tales, and it's terribly sad. If it weren't for the dogs, I'm not sure I could've read it. I knew it was about a woman who was raped by her father when I bought it. It was on a list compiled by NPR of books about strong women. That's why I bought it. I thought I was prepared for it. I work as a pract...more
Carmen Maloy
Oct 22, 2007 Carmen Maloy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All who enjoy fantasy and fairytale
McKinley's writing is amazing, dreamlike, gutwrenching & heartwarming. This book is not for everyone. It has a very dark tone & the first few chapters are very painful to read. Your heart will be ripped to pieces several times before the book ends. BUT despite all of this I found it to be a very uplifting story of triumph & love.
It is the story of Princess Lissar, who at first glance appears to live a charmed life. Actually, once we dig a little deeper we realize Lissar is very alon...more
TheBookSmugglers
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers

Trigger Warning: Rape, abuse, incest.

Princess Lissla Lissar is the daughter of a heroic and handsome king, who won the hand of the most beautiful woman in the Seven Kingdoms. Every night, Lissar listens to her nursemaid spin the same tale - the story of her father, winning her mother's hand over the other six Kings by completing an impossible, superhuman task. Every day and every night, Lissar hears the story of her mother's incredible beauty and her fat...more
S.A. Parham
This is a story based on Charles Perrault's darkly adult fairy tale, Donkeyskin. 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 Part One, and a weak ending to indicate happy ever after. I found Part One (84 pages) very tiresome and tedious, with the language very 'fairy-tale-like', which is great in a short fairy tale but not so fun in a book. However, I slogged throu...more
Eleven
Jan 09, 2009 Eleven rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fantasy lovers, people who like a good story, fairy tale readers
A fairy tale in only the technical term, Deerskin takes place in a nameless land within the "seven kingdoms", where a young princess is known for nothing but being the daughter of the best king and most beautiful queen ever. She grows up hearing the story of her mother's courting, the accomplishments of her father and other such things that have instantly become legend in their lifetimes. When the queen falls ill and dies, a few people turn their attention to the princess, now of age to marry, a...more
Isabel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Monday
Jul 30, 2007 Monday rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who know the donkeyskin fairytale
I love this book. It's incredible. Robin McKinley did an amazing job of taking a fairy tale and creating a beautiful story of strength and survival out of it.

If you are not yet coping with a sexual abuse trauma, don't read this book. If you have no sexual abuse trauma, or are dealing with it, this book is wonderful. If you are in that first category, I think it would be too jarring, too raw, too something.
Elizabeth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Diana
Jan 04, 2009 Diana rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 15+ girls and women in need of some empowerment
McKinley is one of my favorite young adult writers and this book is my favorite of hers. I love the empowering journey that Lissar takes in the novel. What I especially like here is that Lissar succeeds on her quest - both an external and internal quest - NOT by donning or adopting traditionally masculine traits or behaviors, but by relying on what can be called traditional feminine qualities. It shows that women and girls can turn the qualities that have all too often been regarded by society f...more
Keertana
I genuinely feel at a loss for words when it comes to Robin McKinley, not because her work inspires speechlessness, but rather because it doesn't. After finishing The Blue Sword last year, I realized that much of McKinley's charm was lost on me. I found one of her best pieces of work to be dull and in need of desperate polishing. Thus, I didn't really intend to read Deerskin but the premises sounded too intriguing to pass up.

A beautiful princess, largely ignored for much of her life, comes to t...more
Chris
Aug 13, 2012 Chris rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone old enough to be confronting the idea of rape and incest
Compelling and disturbing, a Fairy Tale that confronts Reality: do not make the mistake of assuming "Deerskin" is a typical fantasy... yet its value lies most in what makes it atypical.

First, and in a lighter vein, it shows how near-isolation of a child can inhibit that child's understanding of humans and human interactions. Lissla Lissar grows up the neglected and ignored child of parents so enamored with one another that they rarely see her, and even to her nurse, she is of value only as her m...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
Robin's darkest fairytale retelling. Not for kids.

Spoilers to follow:

After the death of her mother the queen, Princess Lissla is completely ignored for years by her father, the king. Her one companion is her dog, Ash, a condolence gift from Prince Ossia, and the two are inseparable.
As Lissla grows, she comes to resemble her mother both in looks and in beauty. When her father sees her, he insists that she must marry him, to fulfill his promise to her mother that he marry only a woman as beautiful...more
Nikki
Deerskin is based on a fairytale, a pretty disturbing one in which a father decides to marry his daughter, because she is the only one equal to his dead wife in beauty. McKinley's version is darker, because of the detail of it. I found it desperately uncomfortable to read, and the pay-off really wasn't worth the discomfort -- for me, anyway. I read somewhere about a therapist suggesting a client of hers, who had been raped, read it, and that it was helpful in that case. But for me, reading it on...more
Catherine
The original fairy tale of "Donkeyskin" by Perrault is one of the more uncomfortable and un-fairy-tale-like stories you may ever read. It's about a girl whose mother dies after extracting the promise from her husband to only remarry someone as beautiful as she is. Since she was the most beautiful woman in the world, naturally he doesn't think about marriage--until his daughter grows up and becomes as beautiful as her mother. Ew. He prepares to marry her, and despite the daughter's best efforts s...more
Myridian
This is not one of McKinley's best books (personally I was quite taken with Sunshine, and how can you beat The Blue Sword). What this book did very well was paint a picture of severe trauma and its sequeli. The main character was compelling and the story of how she was first emotionally (and physically) wounded and then healed (through her own actions as well as deus es machina intervention) was interested. However, it did lack that tang of reality that makes even fantasy stories feel relevant....more
Emily
I read about 50 pages of this book and gave up. It wasn't that it failed to entertain, I just couldn't handle the way in which it is written. If I am not mistaken, it was written in 3rd person omniscient, which I do not like. Just give me plain old 3rd person or 1st person.
Sarah
Deerskin is the story of a young woman who survives a dismal childhood ended by a brutal act of violence. The story is mainly about her struggle to grow and heal, but is intertwined with magic, romance, and a the loyalty of an entertaining and intelligent dog. At the end, the writing gets a little abstract and difficult to understand, but this appears to be a bit of a pattern with McKinley. Don't try to hard to understand it, just let your own interpretation run wild, and move on with the story...more
Stephanie Ricker
I read Deerskin by Robin McKinley (of The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown fame) in a couple big gulps this week. I think anything would’ve gone down smoothly, after gnawing on the Divine Comedy for so long, but I particularly enjoyed this book. It’s based on the Donkeyskin fairy tale, collected in several fairy tale anthologies though probably first appearing in Perrault’s collection. Doesn’t sound any grimmer than any other original telling of the rather bloodthirsty fairy tales we’ve Dis...more
EZRead eBookstore
Even readers who never have worn a cloak and spoken in a fake British accent while wearing elf-ears can appreciate a good fantasy. Robin McKinley turns fairy tales into plain old good literature, versus a spin-off of a spin-off of spin-off. She creates something I like to call “cozy” fantasy, which has a double-shot of beautiful forest and a triple spritz of great female leads. Completely aside from my love of her previous “The Rose Daughter” and my perspective on fantasy, can this EZ Read inter...more
Heather
Never fall for a guy your senior year of college because he reminds you of a character in a book. I guarantee, he's actually a big dork and all you're doing is screwing up your GPA.

According to the review on the back of my copy, Deerskin is "dream-like, urgent, and inexplicable..." This is not wrong, but I'm not used to seeing "inexplicable" used as a compliment. I actually wouldn't mind if RMcK explicated a bit more. I sometimes feel a tad weary after pages and pages of trying to imagine things...more
Karen (Book Light Graveyard)
Sometimes I’m just in a Robin McKinley mood, and nothing else will satisfy me. After rereading “Beauty” and “Rose Daughter,” I found I needed a little more Robin McKinley on top of that, so I reread “Deerskin.” “Deerskin” isn’t a book I’m often in the mood for. It’s not that is isn’t wonderful and beautiful and outstanding—because it is—it’s just that this book is such an emotional commitment. It takes a lot out of me to read about the terrible things Lissar goes through at the beginning of the...more
Carol
This is the first and only Robin McKinley book I'd ever read. Even so, it held my rapt attention for the day and a half of off and on reading it took me to get through it. Most of the bad reviews I've seen of this title reflect upon its darkness when compared to the other McKinley books; I have heard the same sort of sentiments come from my coworkers who are familiar with McKinley.

I enjoyed how it was written like a fairytale. The language it used, the repetition of phrases and ideas in differen...more
Victoria
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sonia Mcintosh
am a romantic so I love a good fairy-tale with princes and princesses and true love which conquers all. This is what lead me to pick up the book Deerskin by Robin McKinley who has done some great retelling of traditional fairy-tales (often found in the teenage collection). So when I saw this in the adult fiction, I prepared myself for a good read and I wasn't disappointed.
The book begins where most books leave off. The Prince has found his Princess, they marry and take over ruling the kingdom....more
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Born in her mother's hometown of Warren, Ohio, Robin McKinley grew up an only child with a father in the United States Navy. She moved around frequently as a child and read copiously; she credits this background with the inspiration for her stories.

Her passion for reading was one of the most constant things in her childhood, so she began to remember events, places, and time periods by what books...more
More about Robin McKinley...
Beauty (Folktales #1) The Blue Sword (Damar, #2) The Hero and the Crown (Damar, #1) Sunshine Spindle's End (Folktales #3)

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“It is a much more straightforward thing to be a dog, and a dog's love, once given, is not reconsidered.” 56 likes
“Then marry me. For I love you, and I do not believe there is anything so wrong with you. You are fair in my eyes and you lie fair on my heart.” 20 likes
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