A wiser woman than I once wrote that "Robin McKinley's whole career is telling fairytales as if they happened to real people and had consequences".
In Deerskin, her devastating retelling of the French fairytale Donkeyskin Girl, McKinley does not pull any punches. This is a gut wrenching novel to read, and I cannot recommend it enough. The slow, ominous build up of nauseous recognition that presages the initial (and most brutal) act of violence in the book was shocking not for it's conclusion, but because of how utterly familiar it all felt. At times the only thing keeping me from throwing the book across the room was McKinley's achingly beautiful writing about the relationship between dogs and humans.
While this book is not for the faint of heart, I would be remiss if I didn't remind you that the root of the word courageous is coeur : heart. And that the heart is a muscle; it needs exercise.