Title: White Stag
Author: Kara Barbieri
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars
Source: Digital ARC via NetGalley
Trigger Warnings: Rape & Body Horror
Goblins. And a Goblin King. And a fight for power. Dark themes. And action scenes. Mythical animals. And a tinge of romance.
This book has everything I’m looking for in a good fantasy. Every time I found myself putting it down to attend to life, I was counting the minutes until I could pick it up again. I adore goblin stories and this definitely didn’t disappoint.
The main character Janneke has been living with the goblins in the Permafrost, essentially as a slave, for 100 years. She has flashbacks to the pain and abuse caused by her previous master that she just can’t shake even though her current “master,” Soren, is a lot closer to a friend and treats her well. Before coming to live with the goblins, she lived in a small village, the youngest of many sisters she was taught how to hunt and fight in order to assume the position of male heir. Now, these skills come in handy as she sets off with Soren to chase The Stag, the source of goblin power.
I loved all of the Norse mythology peppered throughout this story! There were many creatures that I had never heard of before, so I found myself googling to learn more about them. It reminded me a lot of Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young with the Viking references, but it definitely stands on it’s own. So if you’re looking for Vikings with Goblins, this book is perfect!
It looks as though there is a second book being published sometime this year. While I would love to adventure back to this world and learn more about the characters, I thought the ending wrapped up nicely and it could be read as a standalone.
“And I realized you were right. We’re all monsters in some way. But the only ones who are dangerous are the ones who don’t realize it.”
-Kara Barbieri, White Stag
*Please note, this quote is from an ARC copy, so it may change in the final copy.
Synopsis: The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.
As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.
Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.
Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.
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