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211 Reviews
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106 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark, haunting and unforgettable reading experience
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. I didn't just read this...
Published on April 29, 2000 by BarkLessWagMore

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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A shattered faerie tale. Recommended for that reason.
If you want a pretty fairie tale with nothing dark in it, don't read DEERSKIN. However, I would recommend DEERSKIN precisely because it tries to be something more and tackles the sensitive issue of incest and rape. It clearly demonstrates that despite faerie tale surfaces that things can be terribly and horribly wrong and that the things that are amiss might never be...
Published on November 1, 2000 by Luna


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5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring and Dull, June 6, 2001
By 
Sara Davis (Lubbock, Texas) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Deerskin (Mass Market Paperback)
I read this book because I have read several others by Robin McKinley and loved them. The only way to describe this book is bizarre. The ending makes no sense at all, and in fact, none of the book makes any sense. I don't understand it all. The story line doesn't capture the imagination. It became a chore to read the book. She has white hair after the "Moonwoman" changed her hair color, why? Then she regains it after she confronts her father, why? Why does she even confront her father? Then there is about ten pages of blood, light, crying, etc. After the end, I had no clue what had just happend. .... Ms. McKinley was trying to make the book interesting to adult readers and failed. Stick to the books she wrote for children!
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6 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MCKINLEY I USED TO READ?, July 9, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Deerskin (Turtleback)
I read this book when it was first released because I am a fan of McKinley - especially her re-telling of Beauty and the Beast as well as her Blue Sword books. As an adult, I was saddened to see her ability to bring fairy tales to life has been tainted by only God knows what going on in her life. I enjoy fantasy novels for their uplift and joy. This novel was dark and painful. It left a bad taste in my brain. By the time I was finished, I couldn't even feel happy for the ending; I was too emotionally drawn. I threw my copy away. If I want to be horrified and depressed, I'll buy horror novels or classical literature filled with angst. Or I'll watch the evening news...
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3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculously deep...or is that 'deeply ridiculous'?, April 29, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Deerskin (Mass Market Paperback)
When I first began to read 'Deerskin', I experienced a thrill. Here was clearly the masterful hand of Robin McKinley at work, with stunning prose and dreamlike imagery that far surpassed any of her earlier books. It seemed like a fairy tale written in the tradition of 'The Door in the Hedge', but with a darker, more wild side that an adult would find appealing. Well, I was right -- and also very, very wrong. After Lissar`s mother died and the royal father went bonkers, I realized I was dealing with a completely different animal here, in more ways than one. Ms. McKinley seems to have aimed to make this book a bible for girls in the nineties, complete with unpleasant realities, psychological disorders,etc., all of which are certain to win this book thrilled comments from females who feel this book deeply affected them forever. Still, it seems to me that the strong-minded-just-as-tough-as-the-men nineties woman wouldn`t have sat around in her garden sniffling like an anaemic poodle when she hears she`s been betrothed to her crazy father. It completely baffles me, even now: why did the girl have to wait to get raped before she finally got the undeniably brilliant idea to run away? Desperately riding on the tails of thousands of psychological manuals, this book tries very hard, in beautifully wrought language, to be deep. This book is so deep, in fact, that the ultimate dazzlingly profound meaning escapes me. Aside from the vague references to feminine power (which seems to be the ability to be smarter than a guy even if you`re raped by him) this book may do very well in the 'self-help' section of the library, but what it`s doing in 'fantasy' beats the heck out me. Maybe I should go back to the eighties
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9 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I wish I had read the negative reviews, January 12, 2005
By 
Seth_Saoirse (Jacksonville,FL) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Deerskin (Mass Market Paperback)
Deerskin started out with such a bang, great prose, interesting premise. I love Fairytales retold, but done well...this one was horrible. I felt no connection with the main character,with whom I suppose we are to feel sympathy for. There is no journey of self discovery, she travels from her home lives in the woods, and finally in a shack,eating skinned mice of all things and sleeping in filth. Was this a metaphor I missed?? I had to skip so much that I didn't realize an important element of her time in the woods. I really wanted to like this book as I heard so many great things about it especially a reccomendation from Patricia Mckillip, one of my favorite authors. I felt so disappointed that it will be some time before I even attempt another Robin Mckinley book.
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10 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It's Always Darkest, and There Is No Dawn, March 7, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Deerskin (Mass Market Paperback)
I began this book because I have very much enjoyed McKinley's previous works. I finished it because I kept thinking things had to improve sometime. I was wrong.
This book is a novel-length retelling of a fairy tale, some McKinley has done very well, especially with Beauty and the Beast (see Beauty and Rose Daughter). However, this tale is a little more obscure than most, and the retelling is gruesome in the very best traditions of the Brothers Grimm. Only more so. The novel consists of two hundred relentless pages of death, incest, rape, pain, and misery. In an attempt to balance things out, the last page contains a wishy-washy, incomplete conclusion.
This is not a children's novel; most kids under the age of 13 would be deeply disturbed by it. It might appeal to some YAs and adults, provided they'd either a) had their senses pretty thoroughly numbed or b) positively enjoyed watching the pointless, hideous sufferings of others. For everyone else, it's an exercise in masochism.
Perhaps, then, it's fortunate that Deerskin contains some of McKinley's least compelling writing. The novel swells with fantasy style cliches, brims over with lifeless descriptions, and drowns in page after page of stolid, empty prose.
The only possible reason for reading this book is if you use novels to escape into a world even more miserable than your own. In that case, I canot recommend it highly enough. Otherwise, read something else. Anything else.
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28 of 61 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The sound of grinding hurts my ears, March 16, 2000
This review is from: Deerskin (Mass Market Paperback)
Robin McKinley seems to have a developed a new trend: turning fairy tales into mystical feminist fables. While this is not a bad idea if it`s executed skilfully, so far the attempts have fallen flat. Far from being the masterful storyteller who began with 'Beauty' and left us breathless with 'The Hero and the Crown' and 'Outlaws of Sherwood', she has now descended to the crude practice of grinding axes, very loudly, in the ears of her readers, relying heavily on the use of symbolism to get her 'point' across.

The book begins with beautifully constructed passages that soon fall away into overly dense monotony and repetition. There is little, if any, plot development. Worse yet, the main character, with whom we are stuck without relief until the last tenth of the book, has no personality whatsoever. By the end of the book the reader knows as little about Lissar as at the beginning. I`ll tell you what I knew at the beginning: she`s beautiful. She likes her dog. She also likes Ossin. Cool.

Interestingly, Ossin is compared to a dog, and he falls for her because she helps with his dogs--and because she`s beautiful, of course. It didn`t take much to snare *this* Prince Charming. They have common interests: ZAP. Instant soulmates.

So where does it head after pages of empty mystical symbolism and traipsing through a very boring forest? With a confrontation with the Devil Incarnate himself, her father, who is actually so shrunken and powerless that all the tension of the antagonist vs. protagonist disappears, and Lissar`s ensuing theatrics seem highly melodramatic--McKinley could have used some help from Guy Gavriel Kay. As to the 'secret female blood, heavy with mystery'--I presume she means all the nutrients which make its odor offensive. And that has to spurt all over the floor in a scene which I can only describe as unintentionally humorous ("Aaaah!") I mean, are we overdoing this, or what?

This is my opinion of this book as it was presented to the reading public: a fiction novel. Whether or not it is effective as a self-help book is not my concern: if that is the only value it has, it should have been in the 'self-help' category to begin with. On the other hand, Willo Davis Roberts wrote a support book for child diabetics, but due to its effectiveness as a fictional story it has also been well received by non-diabetics. So it can be done, with vivid characters, a tightly woven plot, and a certain spark good writing contains. In all of these, 'Deerskin' is sadly lacking.
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disapointment (2 and a half stars), October 23, 2003
By 
Erin (Arizona, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Deerskin (Mass Market Paperback)
Robin McKinley is a favorite of mine but she let me down when I read this book. I dunno maybe I have to read it two or three times to care for it. It could have been worse, maybe i'm being to hard on it, but i didn't care to much of it.
It seems like it just goes on and on about it self. it kept climbing to a huge end then it came to it and it wasn't what i was hoping for.
This is a story for a more matchure reader, not something I'd go and read to my lil 4 year old cuz. Better for about 13 and up.
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8 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible book., October 26, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Deerskin (Mass Market Paperback)
Terrible. Don't read it unless you like being disappointed. The mood of the book shifts dramatically after one unrealistic event (hey, we know it's fantasy, but you're still not allowed to do whatever you want to do with it). The book keeps to hooked, but not mesmerized with the feeling "it may get better - it started out pretty well, so..." The ending is most disappointing, where the antagonist stands dull and simply NOT EVIL ENOUGH. The character also shifted with the mood. Lissar's dogs were plain annoying.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Are you sure McKinley wrote this?, February 11, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Deerskin (Paperback)
I adore McKinley but I wasn't overly fond of Deerskin. If you have read other McKinley books, tread softly here... her writing style is completely different in this book.

There are WAY too many loose ends and not enough substance in the story. I had to keep re-reading paragraphs because they didn't make sense. This book is not "dark" as a lot of reviewers claim. In fact, I found it rather dull and lacking.

I read all the reviews prior to ordering the book... I wish I would have paid closer attention to the negative reviews.
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4 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to like it, but..., April 28, 2002
By 
neurondoc (Bethesda, MD United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Deerskin (Mass Market Paperback)
...I just couldn't or didn't. I am a long-time fan of Robin McKinley, as I began reading her books in the mid-80s, and always wished she would write just a little faster. Her book BEAUTY remains one of my favorite novels. I bought DEERSKIN with expectation of loving it as much as all of her other books. Instead I thought "yuck!" and only finished it to see what happened in the end. For whatever reason, the language did not enthrall me, I did not connect with the characters, and the story-line bored me. I have since sold my copy of DEERSKIN to a local used bookstore.
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Deerskin
Deerskin by Robin McKinley (Mass Market Paperback - July 1, 1994)
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