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Deerskin by Robin McKinley
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's review
Jan 26, 2011

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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 intern find a great read in “Deerskin”, a fantasy classic?

Lissar, our princess lead, is anything but a doe-eyed ninny. Her life is overshadowed by the king and queen’s own dramas; it unfortunately happens that her mother is The Most Beautiful Woman in the Whole World. This makes Lissar The Most Ignored Daughter In All of History. Her only true companion is her dog Ash, presented to her after her mother’s passing. It’s after the queen’s death that the drama unfolds, drama which will not be spoiler-alerted here. The king goes crazy, to say the least, giving Lissar no other option but to flee into the forest with Ash.

I think what makes “Deerskin” feel a little different is darker issues it deals with in the story. It’s more of an original Grimm and less of a cute Disney remake. Another thing that makes this different is the close bond Ash and Lissar have, this really feels like a book with two main characters. The focus is less on the tale, and more on their relationship growing and changing. The book has a lot more to do with dogs than you might realize; the dogs are like…the Sam to Lissar’s Frodo. Hope I didn’t lose anyone there with my crazy fantasy reference.

Conclusion? “Deerskin” is a great addition to McKinley’s already fabulous collection of fantasy. Lissar is a lovable lead, the imagery is beautiful and fairy tale rooted, and the story’s more romantic elements are perfectly played. However, it hasn’t toppled “The Rose Daughter” off its throne yet. That book is still the greatest!

EZ Read Staffer Jenifer
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Josh "Sam to Lissar's Frodo" put to words a concept I couldn't quite state. Thank you!

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