Fairy tales have lost a lot of their darkness. We’ve forgotten that Cinderella’s stepsisters cut off their big toe and heel to fit in the hopes of fitting into the glass slipper, or that the Wicked Queen in Snow White was forced to dance in red-hot iron shoes at the royal wedding or that the little mermaid doesn’t actually get the prince and turns into sea foam instead.
DEERSKIN is based on Charles Perrault’s DONKEYSKIN, an especially dark and twisted story*. It tells the tale of a dying Queen that makes her husband promise that he will only remarry someone who is as beautiful as she is. He promises and she dies, leaving behind the King and their only daughter. Years pass and the King remains unmarried until one day he looks at his now-teenaged daughter, who has grown to be as beautiful as her mother and decides that she will be his next wife.
It would be easy to sanitize this story, but DEERSKIN remains true to the original telling. Lissar is an extraordinary heroine and while there is romance, the relationship she has with her dog Ash, is the true heart of the story.
This book is like a punch to the gut. It’s not necessarily an easy book to read, because of its subject matter, but it is well worth the effort. It is beautiful and heart wrenching and incredible. One of my absolute favorites.
Recommended for: people who like their fairy tales dark and twisty.
*Which is saying a lot.