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February 18, 2020 at 10:50 PM UTC

Omigosh I loved this. XD My current favorite retelling of this tale is the episode “Sapsorrow” from the tv show Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. It kind of twists it so that the king doesn’t want to marry her either, but the law is trying to force them. Also no animals are harmed, which is also a big plus. : )

Deborah O'Carroll

March 06, 2020 at 01:13 AM UTC

YES, this made me think of The Story Teller and Sapsorrow too!


February 18, 2020 at 03:12 PM UTC

There is a really good German movie of a similar story called Allerleirauh that was made in 2012. It’s part of a series. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find English subtitles for it recently even though I watched it with subtitles a few years ago.


February 18, 2020 at 05:17 AM UTC

I started dying at “a donkey that literally pooped gold.” Who comes up with this crap? 😉

Denise Imfeld

February 18, 2020 at 04:24 AM UTC

Bwaa-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaa! Totally rocking the snarky voice, LOVED it!

Karisa P

February 18, 2020 at 02:36 AM UTC

Oh shoot the dresses remind me of a duology I read recently- the first book is called Spin the Dawn. (Note that it’s not an altogether clean read, but it’s also not anything steamy if I recall). It’s from the perspective of a tailor named Maia as she journeys to make these three impossible dresses at the demand of a princess who doesn’t want to marry the king. If they don’t marry, however, their respective countries will not be united and consequently they will continue in war against each other. It avoids the parent-daughter ickyness, but it does still have that lovely unwanted marriage situation. However, it does have some cool fantasy and dressmaking! I have more mixed feelings regarding the book so if you want to hear all of my thoughts I also have a review here: Thanks for this lighthearted overview of a very icky tale. Looking forward to more of the Hall of Blood and Mercy!!

Hannah Hill

February 18, 2020 at 12:54 AM UTC

I really cannot wait for this book!!! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the most shocking part of this fairytale for me is that the daughter is grossed out by her GK’s proposal. You really can’t assume ANYTHING in these old fairytales, so I was legitimately impressed she wasn’t like, “Okay, whatever!”

Also I’m really hoping it’s the skin of the hairless cat she borrows. And that she gives all her coworkers allergies while wearing it. And that the cat is super snarky and annoyed about the whole thing.

Patricia Muhle

February 17, 2020 at 10:55 PM UTC

I actually think that Charles may have based this fairy on the true story of a Saint from a couple centuries earlier: St. Dymphna. The comparisons are striking.


February 18, 2020 at 03:59 AM UTC

That is pretty similar!
There’s actually a category of fairy tales like donkeyskin all about a father losing his marbles and trying to marry his daughter. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were at least partially inspired by St. Dymphna.


February 17, 2020 at 10:53 PM UTC

I love how no one really notices the donkey is humanoid. Obviously the “kind kings” subjects weren’t the brightest crayons in the box. And that pervert prince…. he needs a talking to… “i just so happened to peek through the door hole. And now I will die if I don’t Marry her!”
I can’t wait to see your rendition of the story Kitty!! 😆


February 17, 2020 at 10:30 PM UTC

Well that was…..something. Congratulations on handling the elephant in the room. I can’t wait to see how you go through the story with your unique sarcasm. It is absolutely lovely.


February 18, 2020 at 03:49 AM UTC

Hahah! Thanks Kinshuk! And don’t worry–the pre-order should go up sometime this week. 😉


February 21, 2020 at 11:52 AM UTC

It’s up! I ordered them both and am so excited!!


February 17, 2020 at 10:32 PM UTC

Also, the new synopsis for Magic Forged is great. Just waiting for the pre-order.


February 17, 2020 at 10:15 PM UTC

I just realized reading this that one of my childhood picture books is loosely based on this story (fortunately it skips the creepy king and pervert prince part–he’s trying to marry her to an ogre). It’s called Princess Furball by Charlotte Huck and is pretty cute.


February 18, 2020 at 03:52 AM UTC

I just looked it up on Amazon–it looks fun! (Fairy tale picture/storybooks are always so beautiful!)


February 17, 2020 at 09:40 PM UTC

You are right, that is one seriously creepy and weird fairy tale! Robin McKinley’s Deerskin was also creepy and weird in it’s own way (shudder).

I know you will change it into something wonderful, but I can’t imagine how. Perhaps you will have someone in disguise who works hard and overcomes her disgusting family of origin and also happens to walk past a donkey?


February 17, 2020 at 09:55 PM UTC

Hahahahahahah! The comment about walking past a donkey isn’t actually too far off. 😉

Hopefully you’ll enjoy it!

Donkeyskin: the original story

While my reimagining of Donkeyskin carries out over the entire Hall of Blood and Mercy trilogy, I figured we should get an early start and go over the fairy tale for those of you who aren’t familiar with it.

Donkeyskin was written by Charles Perrault–a Frenchman who is famous for many French versions of fairytales, including Cinderella. It was first released in 1695 and republished in 1697 in a book that also contained Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, and more. As you read through the original, you’ll find it is reminiscent of a few other fairy tales–including the original fable I based my Princess Who Chased Sheep on.

Most people are familiar with this fairy tale through Robin McKinley’s Deerskin, which–truthfully–captures more of the original story that I wanted to. (Spoiler: Donkeyskin is another one for the Creepy category. It’s perhaps just as bad as Sleeping Beauty, though in a different way.) As a warning, I’m more sarcastic than usual with this one. With all the icky stuff that happens I had to let the sarcasm flow or I wouldn’t be able to get through it. So let the ‘fun’ begin!

Once upon a time there was a super rich, super handsome, super kind King and his gorgeous and charming Queen. They had a beautiful daughter, and were the most powerful rulers in the whole world, probably because they had a magic donkey that literally pooped gold. Everything was great…until the Queen got sick.

No one could heal her, and the Queen knew she was dying, so she called the King to her side and told him “Only marry someone wiser and more beautiful than me if you want to provide an heir for the throne.”

PAUSE! The King always gets a bad rap in this story–AS HE SHOULD–but a lot of people don’t see the treachery in the Queen. So we need to get a few facts straight. 1) She is aware her daughter can’t inherit the throne–she specifically acknowledges the King needs an heir which means his people will be putting a lot of pressure on him. 2) She knows she’s the most beautiful woman in the world, so by telling him this she’s trying to get him to promise he won’t remarry.

You probably think I’m overthinking this, but I know the Queen is a hag, because the story tells you she knew what she was doing. The original story says… “Confident that it would be impossible to find such a woman, the Queen thus believed that her husband would never remarry.”

In other words, dear old Queenie knew that by making him promise this, she was screwing him over politically–not to mention blocking him from any kind of romantic relationship which could give him happiness later in life–and she didn’t care.


After Queenie-the-Selfish died, the King mourned her for months, crying 24/7. (I’m assuming this means the princess was raised by her nanny, which is probably a good thing considering how her parents act.)

Eventually the courtiers started nagging the King about remarrying and producing an heir, and he agreed. He tried to keep his word and looked all over the world for a woman as beautiful and wise as dear ol’ Queenie. Unfortunately, Queenie was right, and the King couldn’t find anyone…except for his daughter. (And this is where we start calling the King GK for Gross King.)

GK proposes marriage to his daughter, who is legitimately  grossed out by the idea. Disturbed, she seeks out her fairy godmother who lives in a grotto of coral and pearls. (Does this mean her fairy godmother is the sea witch from Little Mermaid??)

The Fairy godmother tells her not to worry, there’s now way GK is that far gone, but in the meantime ask him for an impossible task–a dress that resembles the sky. Since he won’t be able to have one crafted, the Princess will be safe.

The Princess does as she is told. GK rises to the challenge and tells the tailors that if they can’t produce a sky-dress, he’ll hang them all. (Geez, what happened to being the kind king that the story took pains to point out at the start?)

The tailors pull it off, and it’s the most beautiful thing ever, filling the Princess with both happiness and fear because GK succeeded. She runs back to fairy godmother, who tells her to ask for a dress that is the color of the moon. Threats are issued, the embroiderers encounter stress overloads, and the dress is successfully made. This happens a third time when the fairy godmother tells the Princess to ask for a dress as bright as the sun, and some severely stressed-out jewelers produce a gown of gold and diamonds.

It’s becoming pretty obvious that GK lives in a really fashion-forward country, so the fairy godmother finally decides to change the task, and tells the Princess to ask for the skin of the gold-pooping donkey. (She assures the Princess there’s no way GK would kill his wealth-producing donkey–he’s not that crazy.)

SURPRISE!! GK immediately has the creature killed and its skin brought to the Princess.

By now Fairy Godmother has figured out how cray-cray GK is, so she tells the Princess to pretend to give into GK, but then run away using the donkey’s skin as a disguise and hiding her new fabulous dresses and jewels in a magic chest. (This furthers the notion that the fairy godmother isn’t so bright. Not only did it take her 3 dresses and a magic donkey to figure out GK had lost his marbles, but she also suggested taking these easily-identifiable dresses ON THE RUN.)

Run, Princess. RUN! (Illustration by Gustave Dore)

The Princess makes a break for it, and with her disguise no one is able to find her. She travels all the way into a different kingdom and is hired to work in a farm owned by the royal family as a kitchen servant. During the week she wears her donkey skin disguise–it’s a little sketchy how anyone can mistake a DONKEY for a person, I think they actually knew but thought she was just weird, but whatevs–and on her days off on Sunday she cleans up and puts on her famous dresses to feel pretty again.

Since she’s on a royal farm, of course the Prince of the Kingdom makes it a habit to drop by this particular farm after his hunting excursion. Apparently the prince was really handsome because the Princess–in disguise–enjoys gawking at him. She notes how gracious his manners are, and thinks that if he gave her even just a simple dress, she’d love it more than the fancy ones GK gave her. (I’D HOPE SO! EW!)

One day the Prince visits the farm on a Sunday and wanders around all the way to the servants’ quarters where he happens to put his eye to the door key hole. (Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Pervert.) Since it’s Sunday, the Princess was wearing one of her gowns–the sun one.

The Perverted Prince was astounded by her beauty, and almost bursts into her room, but barely manages to restrain himself. Since the dude has apparently never heard of leaving a letter or verbal message, he meanders back home and proceeds to pout.

He won’t hunt, won’t go to any balls, he refuses to have any fun and sighs all day long. (Poor thing.) Finally he loses his appetite and sinks into a deadly melancholy, and only THEN does he bother to ask the farm managers who ran the place who the gorgeous girl was. The farm managers tell him the room belonged to Donkey Skin, who isn’t pretty at all.

The prince doesn’t believe them and moans and sighs some more until his mother–the Queen–asks him what’s wrong. He tells her he wants Donkey Skin to make him a cake. She is mildly weirded out, but commands it to be done.

Our Princess-in-disguises makes the cake while wearing one of her jewels–specifically a ring. Proving that she is GK’s and Queenie’s daughter, the princess purposely drops the ring in the cake because she knew Prince Pervert was watching her through the keyhole. (What can I say? They deserve each other.)

The Perverted Prince almost swallows the ring (no one ever called him smart) when he eats the cake, and is very happy to find it, but he still grows sicker every day. It seems it was his method of protest, because he’s so sick his parents don’t object when it is claimed that marriage will cure his lovesickness. (And YES that is a line from the book, it seems Perrault a sarcastic streak) Perverted Prince decides he fancies a Cinderella story, and declares he’ll only marry the person whom his cake-ring fits.

The ring trials begin, and all the princesses, duchesses, and titled ladies of the land give it a try, but none of them can get the ring on. Eventually everyone from the middle class, and even the servants are given the chance to try on the ring, until our disguised princess is the only one left.

Illustration by Henry Justice Ford

The princess–being Queenie’s and GK’s daughter–knows what’s going on, so she asks permission to change, and dresses in her sun dress and puts on all her jewelry. The King is stoked she looks so rich while the Queen delights in her manners, so when she tries on the ring and it fits everyone is happy.

Preparations for Perverted Prince and our no-longer-disguised Princess’s wedding begins immediately, and invitations are sent everywhere. And I mean everywhere.

So it was no surprise when GK shows up–still super rich and handsome, but thankfully no longer cray-cray. He’s so glad to see his daughter and begs her forgiveness–and Perverted Prince’s parents are now twice as thrilled to see that their son’s father-in-law was such a rich and powerful king.

The borderline useless fairy godmother shows up at the end and insists on telling all the wedding attendees the whole story–because that wouldn’t be awkward or creepy–and the disguised Princess is happy.

So. That was…something.

I’m not afraid to admit I like the stories that borrow aspects of this tale but skip the whole creepy-king/selfish-queen aspect of the princess’s parents. To reassure you guys–I DON’T DO THAT. EW. NO. Also, NO DONKEYS ARE HARMED IN THE DURATION OF THIS STORY!

But I borrow many other aspects of the story that we’ll go over after Magic Forged is launched. Until then, have a lovely day, Champions!

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