by Robin McKinley
From the award-winning author of several novel-sized fantasies featuring
strong, romantic heroines, comes this adaptation of an R-rated Perrault
fairy tale that was originally called "Donkeyskin."
Lissla Lissar is a princess whose beautiful, royal parents are the stuff
of fairy tales, including the ones her own nurse tells her: how her
mother is the most beautiful woman in seven kingdoms; how her grandfather
sent her mother's suitors far and wide to do impossible tasks to win her hand;
and how her super-handsome father went to the ends of the earth to prove
that he was her true love. But, as the people of the kingdom bask in the
glory of their perfect king and queen, the young princess lives a life
Then the fairy tale turns into a nightmare. The queen falls ill and
makes a gruesome deathbed request...the king goes mad with grief...and
though things start to look up for Lissar when a foreign prince sends
her a fleethound puppy to comfort her in her time of loss, and Lissar
gets new and better quarters and begins to come into her own as an adult
member of the court...something is truly rotten in whatever this kingdom
is called. It grows from a sense of uneasiness and foreboding, to a
shocking climax of brutality and evil. With the result that a gravely
wounded princess and her grievously wounded dog stagger out into the
wilderness in the middle of the night.
Madness and despair close in, and death seems close at hand. But a
(being-spirit? goddess?) called Moonwoman gives Lissar the gift of time.
Time to heal and make a new beginning. She makes it in another
kingdom--the kingdom of the prince who sent her the dog--where she goes to
work in the kennels, nursing sick puppies and training majestic hunting
dogs. Though she likes to dress in a deerskin dress & run around
barefoot, people think she's something special. A lady, at least...if
not Moonwoman herself, with the power to find lost things and protect
But when the prince falls in love with her, Lissar may not have the
strength to return his love. Not with the scars she bears, and the
self-loathing that results from them. Can she claim the new life, and
love, that she deserves? Or will she run away from Moonwoman's gift?
This is a very adult fantasy. By this I don't mean it is sleazy or
pornographic, but it is very direct & open about sexual themes, full of
passions and dreads and darkness that may overwhelm immature readers,
not to mention the truly strange and disturbing climax. Written with
sensitivity, intelligence, and a wealth of lifelike detail--not to
mention a sincere love of dogs--it is an unforgettable book for those who
have the strength to experience it.
Recommended Age: 15+
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