24 January 2010

burnin' the oil til midnight

i finished reading Robin McKinley's Deerskin this afternoon while my boyfriend's dog continually 'woofed' at me to play. i'd read the book before for a class in college, and i was just as spellbound then as i was during my second reading. probably more. though i knew what was going to happen, i still cringed, cried, and cheered Lissar and Ash through every moment of their brutal, harrowing story.

the book is imagined like a living fairytale, except unlike Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, Lissar's beauty doesn't make the prince come to her and 'save her.' she actually saves herself, with the help of her faithful canine companion. Lissar finds that her beauty is a curse instead of a blessing. After her mother's death, her father's attention turns to his daughter, the spitting image of his beloved wife. In his madness, he declares that he will marry Lissar three days hence. The ministers and servants blame their princess for this decision, thinking that she set a curse on their beloved king. Lissar locks herself in her room with Ash. Three nights pass. Each night, the king tries to enter Lissar's locked room. On the third night, he succeeds, rapes her, and nearly kills her and Ash.

But that's only the beginning. After a long trek through the mountains, the wounded pair find a cabin on top of a mountain where their healing process truly begins. Lissar has locked away all memory of the assault, travelling with no clue who she is or why she's in the mountains at all. Ash is her only anchor to her past life.

At the cabin, Lissar tries to recollect herself, her life, her story, but she can't. The memories are too painful. But she uses the training she received from an herbalist to assist her and Ash's healing. They survive on spoiled vegetables and wild game until the day Lissar miscarries. As Lissar lays outside in the snow, bleeding and feverish, dreaming horrible nightmares about her father and mother, she receives a visit from the Moonwoman, who alters both Lissar's and Ash's appearances so that no one would know them. She bestows upon them the gift of time, time for them to heal, time for the country to mourn what must have been the death of their princess.

i won't spoil the entire book for you, but i highly recommend reading it. the entire story is handled so beautifully and delicately, but it doesn't hold back on the horrors Lissar faces at the hands of her father or on her own type of PTSD. there are high moments, hardships, and vengeance, but mostly, there's love between Ash and Lissar, Lissar and the friends she makes along the way, and a certain prince Lissar meets after her visit from the Moonwoman. it's truly a powerful, beautiful book. go check it out.

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