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Deerskin by Robin McKinley
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Deerskin (original 1993; edition 1994)

by Robin McKinley (Author)

Series: Damar

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,745693,617 (3.98)142
"A fierce and beautiful story of rage and compassion, betrayal and loyalty, damage and love...A fairy tale for adults, one you'll never forget."--Alice Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of The Rules of Magic The only daughter of a beloved king and queen, Princess Lissar has grown up in the shadow of her parent's infinite adoration for each other--an infatuation so great that it could only be broken by the queen's unexpected passing. As Lissar reaches womanhood, it becomes clear to everyone in the kingdom that she has inherited her late mother's breathtaking beauty. But on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Lissar's exquisite looks become a curse... Betrayed and abused, Lissar is forced to flee her home to escape her father's madness. With her loyal dog Ash at her side, Lissar finds refuge in the mountains where she has the chance to heal and start anew. And as she unlocks a door to a world of magic, Lissar finds the key to her survival and begins an adventure beyond her wildest dreams.… (more)
Member:girlwithsixarms
Title:Deerskin
Authors:Robin McKinley (Author)
Info:Ace (1994), Edition: Reprint, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
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Deerskin by Robin McKinley (1993)

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This book communicated things accurately for someone who has experienced sexual assault. She is able to get inside of the heart and mind of this character and communicate it so well. I really appreciated her understanding and great depth of character development. ( )
  Sparrowgirl | Dec 21, 2019 |
Spoilers below.

McKinley filters the dark subtexts of a fairy tale through the lens of what feels like a contemporary "adult child" graduate of the recovery movement. She mostly succeeds, but the collision of archetypes and pop psychology gets a bit heavy- handed near the end. I wish McKinley had opted to not depict the actual rape until Lisslar herself recovered her memory of the event; the source of her trauma would have been obvious to the reader, and giving privileged access to something Lisslar herself must struggle to face kind of dilutes the sense of dread we feel as she approaches full awareness. Also, while I appreciate and respect McKinley's vision, I wish she had played a bit more on the expectations handed down from the fairy tale form itself. I liked that Ossin the handsome prince was a bit schlubby and awkward and occasionally splattered with puppy diarrhea. But it would have been better if Lisslar had left him dissapointed in the end and run off instead with Lilac, the butch stable hand, something I thought was actually going to happen for a while. A thoroughgoing rejection of patriarchy, feudalism, and all forms of hetero-normative oppression: Now, that would have been a journey of empowerment fit for the Moon Woman! ( )
  R.Klein-Rogge | Dec 4, 2019 |
It's not bad, just not particularly good either.
Robin McKinley has been a bit of a mixed bag in my experience. I adored Sunshine, which was a fun, unusual twist on vampires. Briar Rose bored me to tears. Deerskin falls between the two, but closer to Briar Rose. Like Briar Rose, the novel has a tendency to dispense with plot for long stretches. Also like Briar Rose, the magic system is poorly defined and downright confusing, only popping up when the plot requires it.
Of course, Deerskin has problems uniquely its own. Except for Lissar, the other characters are poorly defined and only broadly sketched. Real moments of connection between Lissar and Ossin are glossed over in broad description instead of letting the reader actually see the moment. There are long stretches of the book in which Lissar is confused about reality and loses most of her memories. The writing in these sections is incredibly confusing and difficult to follow.
That being said, the beginning is gold. I love the first few chapters in which Lissar's world is brought into existence and the way in which fairytale and reality are blended so cleverly. It's a shame the rest of the novel fails to fulfill the promise of those opening chapters. ( )
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
So back in the 1990's there was a trend in fantasy to rewrite fairy tales. Either it was retelling of a well know story, or something new in the style of a fairy tale. This is a retelling of a story (although how well known might be contested). Most of these books fell short of the mark. This is one of the better ones. This isn't to say its a great book - but it pulled me in. McKinley is an excellent author - she knows restraint. As a result, magic is kept to a minimum, but there are still Goddesses.

The Princess is written as down to earth, and her ability to survive a cold winter with only her dog and her wits, a bit far fetched, but within the bounds of who Lissar is. The book is darker than most of this type (there is a really horrible rape scene). It doesn't shy away from some of the more horrible aspects of surviving (such as gutting animals).

This isn't a perfect book. At times, there is too much "Mystical Woman" type sentences. The city she eventually ends up traveling to is way to nice - she doesn't have to work at finding a job, or place to live. The ending was strange, and really is why this isn't a 3.5 star book. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Dec 7, 2018 |
I liked Deerskin and I disliked it. I enjoyed the story as a whole. I loved the style in which it was written, almost like a Grimm fairy tale. The story is very dark in places and a bit too realistic in others, but what can you expect considering the book's synopsis.

What I didn't like was the author gnawing on a topic worse than a dog with a bone. The heroine, Lassar, can't remember something and we have to read about that one particular incident for page, after page, after page. Their are several instances like that pertaining to several subjects. I almost gave up at one point. I think if those annoying entries were omitted from the book it would have been half the length and minus the headache. The end of the story was kind of confusing and gruesome. I don't know why the blood was necessary. I'm guessing it's supposed to be symbolic? ( )
  nevong | Mar 30, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin McKinleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wilson, DawnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Author's note: There is a story by Charles Perrault called Donkeyskin which, because of its subject matter, is often not included in Perrault's fairy tales. Or, if it does appear, it does so in a bowdlerized state. The original Donkeyskin is where Deerskin began.
Dedication
To Mary, Mary, Barbara, Susan, Alex, Steve, Andrea and George:
thanks.
First words
Many years later she remembered how her parents had looked to her when she was a small child: her father tall as a tree, and merry and bright and golden, with her beautiful black-haired mother at his side.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Not set in the kingdom of Damar, but in the same world - references to Aerin, to the great dragons, to malak.
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"A fierce and beautiful story of rage and compassion, betrayal and loyalty, damage and love...A fairy tale for adults, one you'll never forget."--Alice Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of The Rules of Magic The only daughter of a beloved king and queen, Princess Lissar has grown up in the shadow of her parent's infinite adoration for each other--an infatuation so great that it could only be broken by the queen's unexpected passing. As Lissar reaches womanhood, it becomes clear to everyone in the kingdom that she has inherited her late mother's breathtaking beauty. But on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Lissar's exquisite looks become a curse... Betrayed and abused, Lissar is forced to flee her home to escape her father's madness. With her loyal dog Ash at her side, Lissar finds refuge in the mountains where she has the chance to heal and start anew. And as she unlocks a door to a world of magic, Lissar finds the key to her survival and begins an adventure beyond her wildest dreams.

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