Deerskin took a bit to get into because the narrative is purposefully distanced being that it's told from the perspective of a badly neglected and socDeerskin took a bit to get into because the narrative is purposefully distanced being that it's told from the perspective of a badly neglected and socially abused child. I didn't fully appreciate the genius of this narrative choice until she gradually opens herself to the world around her and the narrative becomes so much more engaging at the same time. I've read many a Robin McKinley book... But this is so much more artful and gut wrenching than her other fairy tales. It's the difference between Disney and Bluebeard.
There's a part of the book where Lissar describes her prince as the man who holds the "two halves of her broken heart:" That was what this book was to me. It broke my heart multiple times but then patched it into something better. Sometimes you read books and feel like you've personally grown from reading them. This was one of those for me. Though I would agree that people who have a specific trigger should not read this book, I would heavily encourage anyone else, even someone just potentially uncomfortable, to read this. It gives a really fresh, insightful, and touching perspective on psychological healing.
Also, there are puppies.
Also, there is the single most attractive-to-me male lead I've ever read. Both for who he is and who he is to her:
"She remembered him as if he dressed in bright colors: red and green and yellow and blue. And yet his clothing was usually the drab practical sort one would want to wear in a kennel... She also thought of his face and hair and eyes as bright, when in fact he was as drab as his clothing, and his hair and eyes were a dull brown. But his smile lit his dull square features as fire lightens darkness; and so when her memory of him startled her when she set her eyes again on the reality, his smile reminded her of what she chose to remember."
**spoiler alert** I honestly didn't know until I read the other reviews that this was the final book in a trilogy: This book totally succeeds as a sta**spoiler alert** I honestly didn't know until I read the other reviews that this was the final book in a trilogy: This book totally succeeds as a standalone. I am very impressed by that fact alone.
The world building and really cool magic system are the heart of this novel. The world and vibrant - The best part of Eff's character is her fundamental attachment to this system. I would recommend this book to any fantasy fan simply because of this setting.
The big caveat, however, is that the plot is pretty dull. The only conflict is between the characters and the environment. Because so much time is spent these encounters, the personal relationships seem oddly superficial for a relatively small group that has been traveling in such close quarters. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the primary 'romantic' relationship. There's literally nothing in their interactions that suggest that they want to be something more than best friends until he asks her to marry him. She agrees essentially because he's a good friend. This should absolutely be a component in a relationship - But not the sole component. Or if it is the only component, there should be some evidence that it grows (not magically turns into) something deeper before it's put as the central fixture in a 'happily ever after' epilogue. I had flashbacks to Harry Potter at the end that almost made me forget how GOOD the background information was.
So read the book. It's overall really interesting, but I'd almost warn people to stop before the end. Definitely skip the epilogue. ...more