Monday, September 22, 2008

Deerskin by Robin McKinley

I don't always post reviews of books I've re-read, but I wanted to say a little more about Deerskin. I've recommended it to several fellow bloggers who have enjoyed some of McKinley's other books, and it was the first book in my summer recommendations. But it's not enough. I love this book.

First, you should know that this is a fairy tale, and I love fairy tales. This is not to be confused with Disney versions of fairy tales (though many people have suggested that Disney's Beauty and the Beast seems to draw heavily from McKinley's Beauty, published over 20 years ago--and which I am also currently re-reading); this book involves everything, including bodily functions, in its telling.

I first read this book when I was 17*, after it fairly leaped off the "new release" book cart at the library. I read it twice before I returned it (less than a week later). Over the years, I've bought three copies, which are all currently on loan back in Ohio. So I had to ask the library here to find a copy for me; I felt the need to recalibrate, and I knew Deerskin would help.

And it's as wonderful as I remember it: Lissla Lissar is a princess who is compelled to leave her palace by some horrific events; she escapes and eventually (after an altering, mystical/magical recovery) takes on a new identity in another kingdom, where people mistake her for their legendary Moonwoman. Her balancing presence is her dog, who was also her first friend. Though there is a prince, she is a self-sufficient woman who can stand very well on her own two feet most of the time.

It is a tale of character, strength, choices, survival and will, and though the language is a little more superfluous than I would normally prefer, it suits the story well. Some people have found the beginning a little slow, but I strongly disagree. The story begins with Lissar begging to hear the story of her parents' courship and marriage. Her parents are beloved rulers; her father is handsome and brave, her mother is the most beautiful woman in seven kingdoms. And the princess is a forgotten in the brilliance of her parents. Need I say that she's not your typical princess?

I recommended this to my aunt a few years ago; she stayed up that night till 2, when she had to go to sleep, and woke up at 6 to finish. She told her kids (8 & 12) to fend for themselves for breakfast; she was busy reading.

*This is not a teen/YA book


Nicole said...

Thanks for stopping by yesterday. I haven't read much SFF in a long time (at least ten years) but you make this book sound so interesting and compelling. I'll keep it in the back of my head when the TBR pile lets up. Great review.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I had never heard of Robin McKinley until this year but now I really, really would like to read her books. I have since bought two I think and am looking forward to them.

jenclair said...

I love fairy tales and re-tellings and books about fairy tales! The cover is a Terry Windling, isn't it?

Cheryl said...

I enjoy Robin McKinley! So it's neat to see you mention one of her books.

Beth F said...

Yes! This sounds like something for me. I wonder why I haven't heard of Robin McKinley until now.