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Deerskin

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  19,543 ratings  ·  1,287 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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Kristin Deerskin is set in the same world as McKinley’s Damar (from The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword). The animal names and some other little hints…moreDeerskin is set in the same world as McKinley’s Damar (from The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword). The animal names and some other little hints (like a reference to Aerin and Maur) serve to make the connection with that world. Many, though not all, of her books do this.(less)

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3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  19,543 ratings  ·  1,287 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 🖤🐶🐺🐾
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
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 i
...more
Tatiana
Jan 31, 2019 marked it as abandoned
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.
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 fa
...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
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 alon
...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.
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 and
...more
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.
...more
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.
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
❀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
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.
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
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
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Nana Spark
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goodreads-rtc
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
Gina
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book overall. I like Robin McKinley's writing but was wary because I'd gotten warnings about the trauma and specific trigger warnings. But it happens pretty early on, and the book ends up being more about recovery and healing.

The plot dragged in the middle but it has a pretty typical fairy tale arc
(view spoiler)
The ending was also sort of confusin
...more
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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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
“It is a much more straightforward thing to be a dog, and a dog's love, once given, is not reconsidered.” 71 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.” 24 likes
More quotes…