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This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Oh my, I scarcely know what to say about this book It s actually not quite 5 stars, but I d feel bad only giving it four.It s wrenching, maddening, lyrical, unflinchingly honest in the way of fairy tales, and it s terribly sad If it weren t for the dogs, I m not sure I could ve read it I knew it was about a woman who was raped by her father when I bought it It was on a list compiled by NPR of books about strong women That s why I bought it I thought I was prepared for it I work as a pract Oh my, I scarcely know what to say about this book It s actually not quite 5 stars, but I d feel bad only giving it four.It s wrenching, maddening, lyrical, unflinchingly honest in the way of fairy tales, and it s terribly sad If it weren t for the dogs, I m not sure I could ve read it I knew it was about a woman who was raped by her father when I bought it It was on a list compiled by NPR of books about strong women That s why I bought it I thought I was prepared for it I work as a practicing psychotherapist, and have sat in my office with women and men who have been through this same thing I have been enraged before by the way families and society blame the victim in situations like this And yet when I read it in this book, I was so upset I had to stop reading for a while.I got up and cleaned my kitchen, walked the dogs, cast around for some light hearted simple minded book to read Then I decided to pick it up again I d put it aside right after the rape and his killing of her beloved dog.But the dog was not dead The rest of the book is about her healing, and her recovery, and the way she comes into her own power It s also about the dog, and then dogs, as she finds her way to the court of the man who d given her the dog in the first place, and she nurses a litter of puppies whose mother died and she keeps them alive along with herself.I hadn t read Robin McKinley before, but now will have to look at her other books I love dogs And they save this book from being unbearable 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 Unnerved by her father s unnatural behaviour towards her Lissar tries to avoid him, but on her 17th birthday he breaks into her bedroom a 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 Unnerved by her father s unnatural behaviour towards her Lissar tries to avoid him, but on her 17th birthday he breaks into her bedroom and rapes her.Lissar escapes, barely alive, and is granted the time and space to heal by the moon goddess.Eventually Lissar returns to society and helps Prince Ossin with his breeding dogs hide spoiler The dreamlike quality of the writing means that the trauma scenes are obscured But the emotion is real as is the hope and the recovery I was only there for the dog Mel I was only there for the dog Mel I am hurtin 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 lessI am hurtin 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 interested in plot and to some degree, character andinterested in two questions does this novel make me think And or does this novel make me feel This book gave me all the feelz.I know it probably seems inappropriate to be taking such a light hearted tone with such a serious book but I mean it with absolute honesty I was very emotional reading this book.I also felt that the message of the book was important You can survive sexual abuse, even thou it changes you irrevocably, it is possible to live despite itHer fingers crawled upwards and touched the outer curve of her breast, and the fingers paused, quaking in fear but after the moment, despite the panic trying to break out of its shadows and seize her mind, she told her fingers, go on This is my body I reclaim my body for myself for my use, for my understanding, for my kindness and care Go on And the fingers walked cautiously on, over the curiously muscleless, faintly ridged flesh, cooler than the rest of the body, across the tender nipple, into the deep cleft between, and out onto the breast that lay limp and helpless and hardly recognizable as round, lying like a hunting trophy over her other arm Mine, she thought My body It lives on the breaths I breathe and the food I eat the blood my heart pumps reaches all of me, into all my hidden crevices, from my scalp to my heels Tonally, the book is written in a dreamy manner This is very much a fairytale The original tale it was based on Donkeyskin was much less clear with regard to how it turned out for the girl The King who she married in the origin tale was I believe deliberately obfuscated It was a story that was meant to speak to girls and women trapped in sexually abusive relationships with men who had complete power over them.McKinley thankfully choose to tell theoptimistic version of the tale It is meant to be allegorical, don t expect searing realism.There is one other thing I wanted to comment on Another reviewer stated thatMcKinley s view of trauma rape, incest, miscarriage is absolute crap and offensive to people who have actually been through those things I couldn t believe she tried to romanticize such horrible things She told the story very well, as she thought of it unfortunately all the sentiments were contrived and false Being a surviver of familial CSA I find this sort of commentary absolute crap and offensive Some of the behaviours and events McKinley described spoke to me personally about my own experience Other aspects didn t I spoke about this inmy review of Carve the Mark Your unique experience of something does not make you the arbitrator of all possible responses to that trauma event If a novel is factually incorrect or it treats major traumas like no big deal then by all means rip the author to shreds But if you didn t like the way an author handled how a character responded to their trauma because it didn t match your idea of how they should respond you probably need to take a look a second look at your own perspective People are complex and not everyone responds in the same way.What was particularly baffling for me with regard to this criticism is that McKinley speaks in metaphors about very, very common responses to sexual abuse by blocking it from your mind and the very common result complete social isolation and crippling, self imposed loneliness Deerskin s humiliation, horror and blood loss in the harrowing climax of the novel was an authentic metaphor for how survivors often feel when they finally acknowledge the abuse The fact that Deerskin only told the truth once another young girl was in danger is also very common in adult survivors who maintained the secret throughout childhood, often up until the point that they have their own children and realise they have to protect them from the perpetrator in their family Additionally, the devotion people had towards her father, the victim blaming that occurred and her guilt were all common experiences for people who have experienced CSA The only point at which McKinley misstepped was by using magic to physically heal Deerskin Returning Deerskin s body to it s unspoiled state, was an example of where over romanticising the perfect female form ran counter to the theme and tone of the book There were a few other minor problems with the book, it was repetitive, and I think it would be rather too charitable to assume McKinley did this deliberately Although dealing with CSA can often feel endless and repetitive, I don t think she genuinely intended for the novel to sometimes feel that way The story was also predictable, but when reading a retelling does that ever really matter This was a touching book It lacked the sophistication of some of the other retellings that deal with sexual assault but it also ended on a happy note which was cathartic as a reader If you enjoy fiction that delves into painful experiences in a fairytale framework, this is one of the best examples out there Well worth the read 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. 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 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 father s heroic deeds, and how much everyone in the kingdom loves their royal leaders On the rare occasions that Lissar gets to see her parents, or even interact with other children, she is always in the background, neglected and forgotten in the face of the stunning beauty and splendor of her parents But one day, the beautiful queen is not quite as beautiful as she once was, and loses her will to live Before she dies, she commissions a great and terrible painting of her unparalleled beauty, and with her dying breath she makes her husband promise that he will only marry again if his bride is as beautiful as she Racked by his grief, the King agrees, driven mad by his grief As the kingdom mourns, Princess Lissar withdraws further away from the prying eyes and games of the court her only true friend is her beloved hound, Ash, and together she and Ash spend the next quiet years in a secluded part of the castle, away from the eyes of Lissar s father When Lissar turns seventeen, however, everything changes as her father s feverish gaze seizes on Lissar s blooming beauty and her resemblance to her mother Following a nightmarish birthday ball, the King declares that he will marry Princess Lissla Lissar in three days Horrified and alone, Lissar tries to lock herself away from her father, but to no avail he breaks down her doors, beats and rapes his daughter in the night Battered, terrified, but with a stubborn will to live, Lissar stumbles away from the palace with only the company of her loyal dog Ash, and makes her way through the cold, cruel woods After a long, cold winter, Lissar is able to heal, though she blocks out all memory of her past When the weather warms, she leaves her isolated home in the woods for a new kingdom and earns a job in the palace kennels Here, Lissar makes a new life for herself but she will be forced to confront her past once and for all, with a future of hope and happiness waiting for her.Deerskin is not an easy book to read Incredibly disturbing, painful, and triggering, this is NOT a book for everyone That said, as horrific and raw as this book is, Deerskin is also a resonant, powerful, and empowering read From a writing perspective, Robin McKinley tends towards the verbose and the ornate sometimes this works for her books, and sometimes in my opinion it does not I am happy to say that Deerskin is one of the successful endeavors, with its beautiful, languid prose, vivid images and descriptions McKinley is retelling a fairy tale, after all, and Deerskin is a decidedly dreamlike book with heavy folklore overtones As Philip Pullman discusses in his version of the story Thousandfurs and in general for Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm , the magic of a fable lies in its telling, and Deerskin excels in this regard with its lush turns of phrase Even when describing something as simple as cleaning a hut in the middle of winter, or the techniques to feed ailing puppies both events that occur in this text, mind you , McKinley makes the story effortlessly interesting and surprisingly ethereal But beyond the setting, the telling, and the world, Deerskin is really a book that comes down to a horrific story, and a young woman s stubborn will to live Heroine Lissar, who becomes Deerskin and Moonwoman, is the sole figure at the heart of this book, and on whose shoulders the tale s success or failure rests And let me say this once with feeling Lissar is an amazing, gut wrenching, awe inspiring heroine I loved her character, I cried for her character, I rooted wholeheartedly for her character Lissar s growing dread defines the first part of this book, as she looks into her father s eyes for the first time and sees something she cannot name, but something that frightens her deeply Like a nightmare, the next years of her young life unfold with her always pulling away from her father s notice, until it comes to a crashing, horrific climax following her seventeenth birthday This, for me, was an incredibly challenging read I had to keep putting the book down because it was so disturbing but Robin McKinley does a phenomenal job of building this terror and claustrophobia, and then segueing the book from one of fear to one of hope Because as dark and horrific as the first part of the story is, as Lissar flees her old life and begins to heal and gradually comes to confront her past, it s an amazing and empowering arc And, it has a happy ending one where Lissar is able to confront and defeat the monster of her past, and have a future of happiness and life.I could wax on about Lissar and Ash the most touching, wonderful relationship between a woman and her closest animal companion that I have read probablyever , about the folkloric elements with the Moonwoman that helps Lissar find her way, about the slow simmering relationship between Lissar and Prince Ossinbut perhaps those are all things that are best discovered by the reader Suffice it to say, I loved all of these different threads and Robin McKinley s skill at weaving them together into a complete story I don t know if I ll read Deerskin again in the near future most likely not But I feel stronger and smarter and alive for reading it, and I absolutely recommend it 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 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 with each other that they do not seem to notice that they have a child at all and are so totally fantabulous that everyone around them only has eyes for them and is blinded to Lissar s existence Throughout her childhood Lissar is told stories of the magical fairytale wooing of her mother, the most beautiful woman in the seven kingdoms, by her father, one of the seven suitors who had to go to the ends of the earth to win her.But then one day, the most beautiful woman in the seven kingdoms falls ill and, because she cannot bear the fading of even the tiniest fraction of her beauty, confines herself to her bed and covers herself up with a veil, so that no one can glimpse her, not even her devastated husband The queen also orders a portait to be painted, depicting her at the apex of her glory and, as her dying wish, extracts a promise from her husband that he would not marry again unless his new wife was no less beautiful than herself The king, as they do, goes mad with grief after the queen s death and, on Lissar s 17th birthday, announces his plan to marry his daughter, for she looks so much like her mother I knew this book was about rape, incestuous rape at that, going in and I thought this aspect of the story was handled with great understanding and sensitivity The way McKinley deals with blaming the victim syndrome what has she done to this wonderful glorious man to make him behave like this she must be evil and amoral, she must have asked for this and enticed him with her wiles it is astonishing and disheartening how prevalent this thinking still is in real life, how ready we are to blame victims of sexual assault for what happens to them and the devastating impact the rape has on her feels genuine and heart breaking So why three stars Well, I m just going to put it out there although I do feel like there must be something wrong with me for not liking the bookI found this story pretty dull I don t know if it was because I knew exactly what was going to happen from the very start but what did I expect, this is a fairy tale retelling or if it was the deliberately languid quality of the prose in which McKinley chooses to tell her tale that didn t quite work for me It also didn t help that I found Lissar to be a complete blank She is like a bud that is stamped out before it really gets a chance to bloom, before she really finds herself as a person and after, it is all about coping and survival and pushing out the horrific memories and avoiding being herself And I know that this is exactly how it would be, that it couldn t really be anything else, but it was dull for me to read about a person who is simply pulled like a puppet on a string without any rhyme or reason throughout most of the book I wanted Lissar to take control of her life and choose to do something because that is what she wants to do, because she is ready for it and for me, that never really happened, though other readers may disagree with me on this Even the final resolution, when Lissar finally faces her father again, seemed baffling to me because, again, she seems to be simply pulled into it by the mysterious magical force that has been guiding her steps ever since she left her home, and it is not something that she consiously chooses to do Also the imagery of the climax was pretty disturbing with Lissar seemingly re living her rape in order to condemn her father While this is probably inevitable in this context, it also left me feeling perturbed Yes, I realise that this is the reality of every rape case, that in order to bring to justice the perpetrator, every rape victim has to re live their ordeal in front of the police, relatives, lawyers, jury that is, after all, why so many choose not to report I just wish there was another way This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here This is one of my all time favorite books McKinley s writing is amazing, dreamlike, gut wrenching heartwarming and 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.Deerskin is the story of Princess Lissar, who at first glance appears to live a charmed life Actually, once we dig a litt This is one of my all time favorite books McKinley s writing is amazing, dreamlike, gut wrenching heartwarming and 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.Deerskin 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 alone isolated in her world Her parents don t seem to remember she exists, she has no friends The turning point begins when her mother dies and she receives a puppy as a gift of condolence from Prince Ossin whom she names Ash Her Dad, crazy with grief over the loss of his Queen, turns into a nutcase and completely forgets he has daughter for several years During this time Lissar Ash grow up together become bonded closer than any two beings can be Then one day her dad remembers he has a daughter decides it is time for her to marry start producing an heir Once he takes a good look at Lissar he notices how beautiful she has become how much she resembles her mother I don t want to give anything else away but this is the beginning of Lissar s transformation into the mystical creature Deerskin and the brutal end of her life as she knows it.Despite the dreary beginning, this story is ultimately a positive one and especially recommended for dog animal lovers The scenes with the puppy rearing, Lissar s eventual opening up to Prince Ossin the magical, mystical qualities of the story make this a must read Lissar is a heroine to admire Prince Ossin is a ray of light in a world filled with selfish, spoiled and revolting men Lissar s dog Ash is the glue that holds her together through good times and bad.So, if you re up for an emotional read that is well worth the pain put a day aside to read this one, just make sure you have a box of Kleenex handy You re guaranteed to cry tears of pain of joy This one unquestionably gets 5 out of 5 stars 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 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 dragged, and dragged for 300 pages and repeated the same sentiments so often If I wasn t such a dog lover I wouldn t have made it through Her descriptions of those scenes were amazing, as were all the descriptions the phrases flowed from the page like rivers, but weren t enough to save it, for me I couldn t believe the main character at all McKinley s view of trauma rape, incest, miscarriage is absolute crap and offensive to people who have actually been through those things I couldn t believe she tried to romanticize such horrible things She told the story very well, as she thought of it unfortunately all the sentiments were contrived and false `Download Pdf ✗ Deerskin ☚ 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, Ash, who accompanies her But a chance encounter on the road leads to a job in another king s kennels, where the prince finds himself falling in love with the new kennel maid and one day he tells her of a princess named Lissla Lissar, who had a dog named Ash