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Deerskin Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1994
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From Library Journal
Heir to her late mother's legendary beauty, Princess Lissar becomes the victim of her grief-maddened father's desire. Fleeing her home, she seeks solace and solitude in a great forest--and discovers a magic that leads her toward healing and justice. Loosely based on "Donkeyskin," an obscure fairy tale by Charles Perrault, this story of a young woman's survival and recovery is both a classic hero's journey-tale and a parable for modern times. Award-winning YA author McKinley turns her storytelling acumen and stylistic grace toward an adult audience, handling incest and rape with unflinching honesty while at the same time building a case for hope and renewal. A good choice for fantasy collections.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Kirkus Reviews
A first foray into adult fantasy for the author of such well- received children's books as The Outlaws of Sherwood (1988), etc. In an unnamed, standard fantasy kingdom, an unnamed queen dies after bequeathing to her unnamed king a portrait capturing her surpassing beauty. Their daughter, the princess Lissla Lissar, is the very image of her mother, even to her black-red hair. On Lissar's 17th birthday, the king announces that he will marry his daughter! Horrified, Lissar locks herself away, but the king breaks in to beat and rape her. Barely alive, Lissar escapes with her dog Ash to find sanctuary in the mountains. The moon goddess, the ``Lady,'' heals Lissar--suppressing the dreadful memories, changing her hair to white, giving her a stainless white deerskin dress--and four years pass in what seems a day. Now Lissar enters a neighboring kingdom, where she meets the dog-fancying prince Ossin. As she slowly regains her memory, so she falls in love with Ossin, who proposes. Unable to tell him of her past, Lissar again flees into the mountains, returning the following year ready to denounce her father, regain her black-red hair, and marry Ossin. Turgid, lurid, soporific fluff. Might have made an adequate fairy tale at a twentieth of the bulk. McKinley will have to do much better than this to capture an adult audience. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
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The character development is masterful. Without dialogue or many "scenes" you can imagine so much thanks to McKinley's careful economy with words. She paints a lovely picture of healing and hope.
This can be triggering for those who have suffered the types of trauma and abuse mentioned in the book. It can also help to bring peace and resolution to some. I would say to those who have suffered a similar fate, to be gentle with yourself if you choose to read this. Don't try to read it all in a day. Put it back on the shelf for a while, or donate it and get it out of the house altogether if you feel it's too difficult to read.
Deerskin is actually a re-telling of a folk tale. I definitely prefer this telling of the tale.
I had to buy a replacement copy as my original paperback is falling apart after years of reading. My only complaint is the binding of the new paperback. Most of the pages seem to be cut poorly so that text often begins/ends in the crease, making it hard to read without breaking the spine. I'd return the book due to this if more money was involved, but it's just not worth it for $12.
There were a few minor typos, nothing too terribly distracting.
Despite the one graphic and appalling event that is pivotal to the story, I recommend this book to all. If you only read one book this year, this should be your pick.
Well done, Robin McKinley, and thank you so very much for enriching my soul😌