Review: White Stag by Kara Barbieri

39863517The 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. [from Goodreads]


White Stag is a brutally beautiful book about Janneke (we cannot call her ‘young’), whose family was slain and has been imprisoned in the Permafrost by goblins for over one hundred years. When the Goblin King is killed, the hunt for the white stag begins to find a new successor to the throne, and Janneke is forced to consider her place on the border of the worlds. Yes, long sentence, but its a long journey. The night is dark and full of terrors if you know what I mean!

I went into this book blind, without reading the full synopsis and without reading a lot of feedback from other readers. I didn’t want to know anything about the chemistry or the goblins or the worlds. I just wanted to read. I feel that a lot of fantasy is better that way and it works for me. I loved discovering the characters and their quirks. I got to discover the different creatures along their paths–Soren and Janneka run into creatures I’ve never even heard of. *runs to do research* I’ll get back to you on lindworms and svartelves….

Aside from that, I am so amazed that this book is coming from an author so young! Kara Barbieri is 22 years old and I can’t wait to see what else she comes up with! I was on the edge of my seat reading White Stag! There is so much action in this book, with battle scenes between the goblins, with above-mentioned mythical creatures, and in dreams and flashbacks. Also, I honestly didn’t know what path Janneka would take for herself. I couldn’t tell if she would turn back to the human world, or choose the pull of her powers and vengeance in the goblin world. And then the ending! The ending was what sealed the deal for me. This was a completely different spin on an old trope and I am not upset in the least. I loved how it was written, how it was crafted, and how everything fit together. Honestly, I am so excited that there is a second book coming and I can’t wait to see how things play out. I recommend this one. It releases in one week – January 8th, 2019!

Soundtrack: The Devil Within by Digital Daggers


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