Thursday, July 26, 2018

Audiobook Review: Deerskin by Robin McKinley

Pub. Date:May 15, 2018
Publisher:Tantor Audio
Narrator:Xe Sands
Length:11 hrs 54 min
Source:Publisher

This is my first read from Robin McKinley, and the beautiful cover with the hound really drew my eye. Deerskin was first released in the early 1990s, but is just now being brought to audio by Tantor Audio. The narrator, Xe Sands, did a great job with the performance, pacing and characters.

This is the story about the coming-of-age of Princess Lissla Lissar, a quiet child largely ignored by her larger-than-life parents. The King and Queen were beloved by their people, seemingly more for their beauty and fairytale origins than for any good deeds or benevolence. When the Queen's beauty fades and passes away, Lissar is thrown more into the spotlight than she has been in the past. This draws some horribly unwanted and incestuous attention from the King, which leads to a series of tragic events. Trigger warnings weren't the thing back in the 90s, but this story probably warrants one with today's societal trends.

As you can imagine, there are lots of emotional moments with our young heroine. There were many times when I thought she would give up, but she persevered. Though she had help, and I don't know that she would have made it on her own. This is where we see slight touches of magic come in. I felt that this aspect was quite understated and subtle in the scope of the whole book. I wouldn't have minded seeing more of a magical theme, as I felt like what we did have was intriguing and caught my interest.

We first see Lissar lose herself and identity, then slowly put herself back together piece by agonizing piece. During this time, she relies only on herself, her hound companion, Ash, and a mystical force at work in the woods. Then we see Lissar transition into Deerskin and re-integrate herself with people and palace life. Dogs continued to play heavily in Deerskin's development and healing. The dogs were probably my favorite aspect of the story. I liked that each had their own personality and part to play in the story.

By the end, Deerskin/Lissar has come full circle. She has grown from a scared girl to a courageous young woman. Her path forward is full of potential and love and acceptance. Overall, I did like the story - it was just not what I was expecting. The bulk of the story was sad and somewhat dreary. That overshadowed the ending to the extent that I didn't really feel like it was a happily ever after, but more of an accepted path forward for a broken girl. A happily ever after in progress, if you will.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Tantor Audio.

Purchase Links