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Deerskin

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  20,152 ratings  ·  1,357 reviews
As Princess Lissla Lissar reaches womanhood, it is clear to all the kingdom that in her beauty she is the image of her dead mother, the queen. But this likeness forces her to flee from her father's lust and madness; and in the pain and horror of that flight she forgets who she is and what it is she flees from: forgets almost everything but the love and loyalty of her dog, ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by Ace Books (first published June 1st 1993)
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Ronnie Catcus Creatures like 'ootag' and such? They're entirely the creation of McKinley to add to the fantasy feel I believe, and they are mentioned in passing in …moreCreatures like 'ootag' and such? They're entirely the creation of McKinley to add to the fantasy feel I believe, and they are mentioned in passing in a few of her other books.

I think she's stated that the primary inspiration is Donkey Skin by Charles Perrault. But there are a lot of tales similar to this such as: The King Who Wished To Marry His Daughter, Little Catskin, Katie Woodencloak.

There's a lot of similarities between Artemis/Diana and the Moonwoman/Lissar. Lissar has to learn to hunt, Artemis is the goddess of the hunt. The book focuses on the moon, Artemis is the goddess of the moon. Artemis is the goddess that helps women when they're sick and protects girls.

I hope this helps answer your questions. (less)

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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  20,152 ratings  ·  1,357 reviews


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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
I give this older Robin McKinley dark fantasy novel a very qualified recommendation. It's loosely based on the old Donkeyskin fairy tale and deals directly with unpleasant trigger themes: rape, incest and miscarriage. It's handled with sensitivity and might be cathartic for some readers, but it's definitely not light reading.

Lissar is a young, shy princess with a drop-dead gorgeous mother. When her mother falls ill and dies, having lost the will to live because her illness sapped her beauty, the
...more
Lizzi Crystal
Jan 08, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin


I was only there for the dog!!!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
...more
Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky)
"I am hurt...in ways you cannot see, and that I cannot explain, even to myself, but only know that they are there, and a part of me, as much as my hands and eyes and breath are a part of me."

This book seemed like a less sophisticated ancestor of Tender Morsels. I got a bundle deal on several of Mckinley's works and so I went into this novel with no idea what it was about.

It was a tiny bit of a shock.

I really enjoyed this book. It inspired a deeply emotional response. Recently, I've been less
...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
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
...more
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
Tatiana
Jan 31, 2019 marked it as dnf
Marie Kondo-ing my way through my tbr. I WILL clear my shelves, real and virtual.

Lovely language, as always from McKinley, but it's just tooooo long. There is no way I can get through another 300 pages of it.
Bark
Dec 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandra
May 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone not afraid of emotional agony.
Recommended to Sandra by: NPR
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carmen Maloy
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 alone & isolated
...more
Aubrey
TW: rape, incest, abuse
She had decided to live. If she could not think of certain things, she would not think of them. There were other things to think of, immediate things.
I recently got rid of someone from my feed on this website for laughing at trigger warnings, so if you're of the same opinion of that particular sot, take yourself out. It's bad enough that I have to pick apart my students at work for hurling the phrase "triggered" around, as if it wasn't scary enough for neuroatypicals a
...more
Laura (Kyahgirl)
2/5; 2 stars; C

There were so many things I liked about this book but in the end, the balance was off and I felt disappointed. I liked the character of Deerskin and I loved the dogs but the story dragged in several places and ended too abruptly. Xe Sands was an excellent narrator.
Eleven
Jan 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Didi
4.5 STARS

This was so different and so good. Fantasy, magic, tragedy and a bit of romance rounds out this beautifully written book. I've read 'Sunshine' by this author and liked it, but this was on a whole other level.
The circumstances of Lissar's escape​ were heartbreaking and brutal. There is incest here, so if that's a trigger then avoid this. However, if that's something you can handle in the context of an amazing story of resilience, hope and new beginnings, then read this book.
Isabel
Aug 08, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Casey
Jul 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Tandie
DNF. Waaaaaaaaay to wordy, I lost interest after she made it through Winter, met the magical lady, and just finds civilization again. I tried skimming, but the descriptions and inner monologues went on for pages.
G.
Apr 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I keep hoping to love another McKinley book as much as I love Sunshine. Sadly, Deerskin is not going to be that for me. Mainly because it's a combination of difficult subject matter ((view spoiler)) and incredibly slow pacing. The book is deserving of reading, but I can't pretend it wasn't somewhat of a slog for me. ...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
Bec
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read-2017
I've been wanting to read this for SO LONG and finally bought it. Read like a fairy tale and was a slow fantasy, but I really did enjoy it. Ash is the best dog and I want one.

Kind of wished for a bit more time seeing the Ossen and Lissar interact and a bit more after the wrap up for ship reasons. Also ended rather abruptly. I kind of wanted more answers about the Moonwoman and exactly how/ why Lissar's appearance changed, as well as a bit more explanation about what exactly happened during some
...more
Christine
A Robin McKinley book is never bad. Like a Jane Yolen book is never bad.

Deerskin is based on "Donkeyskin", a Charles Perrault tale that is usually neutered and deals with the theme of incest. "Donkeyskin" appears in other collections in variations such as Thousand Furs. These tales are related to "Cinderella" but are darker in nature for the princess flees her father who wants to marry her.

McKinley's retelling is a study in the recovery from abuse and assault. It is more of a inner journey than
...more
S.A. Parham
Aug 13, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
❀angela
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I know 4 stars seems like a high rating, but honestly I'm disappointed I could not give this book 5 stars. It has all the ingredients of my 5 star books: princes, romance, intelligent heroines. There was loyalty and puppies and a beautiful princess. And I loved the story, especially told in Mckinley's pretty prose. But this book dragged, and I mean DRAGGED. I like books that make me savor each and every word but this one made me skip entire pages because absolutely nothing was happening for page ...more
Nana Spark
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Trigger warnings: sexual assault, incest, and miscarriage

This book was... a lot.

The plot (in a nutshell) is about when Princess Lissar's drop dead gorgeous mom (I mean like the WHOLE fucking country is absolutely enamored with this bitch) dies and her father becomes obsessed with her, as Lissar looks like her mother. Lissar and her dog Ash escape and find a cottage in the middle of the woods. After surviving the winter there, they stumble upon a nearby kingdom and find work in lthe castle stable
...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I’m going to be explicit about some plot details, because most of the criticism of this book seems to come from people who didn’t know what they were getting into. So: Deerskin is a fairy tale retelling about a princess who is raped by her father. If you demand that your fairy tales be lighthearted, or your rape/trauma stories 100% realistic, this may not be the book for you. For what it’s worth, I think it’s a fantastic book, although there were times I put it aside for something more cheerful. ...more
Minni Mouse
DNF because this king beats then rapes his own full-blood daughter before planning to marry her and no, thank you, we're not tolerating any of that foul perversity today. What is wrong with you, Robin McKinley.
Jen (The Starry-Eyed Revue)
Weird and awful and heartbreaking but also hopeful. Those aren't nearly enough adjectives to describe this story, but it's a start. I mean, WOW. It was a powerful story but one that left me with a lot of questions, as well. Dead queen. Mad king. Runaway princess. Faithful canine companion. Eccentric Moonwoman. Kind prince. So many characters and motivations to make sense of. But in essence, this was a story of grief and healing and doing what's right, even in the face of your own failings. I sti ...more
Janice
This tale is a retelling of the French fairytale, Donkeyskin.

While I enjoyed the story for the most part, the pace bogged down at times. I loved the connection between Lissar and her dog, Ash.
Chocolategoddess
It's difficult to know what to say about this book, and I can't decide whether I enjoyed it or not.

I think if you're considering reading this, you need to be aware that rape is a major theme. It might be a spoiler, but no one should stumble upon that by accident so I'm leaving it out here for all to see. Deerskin is essentially a story of a neglected girl who's raped by her father, and her lengthy, challenging, journey to get to a place where she can live her life outside the shadow of that trau
...more
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6,171 followers
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

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