Deerskin - Robin McKinley 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.