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White Stag: A Novel

Review

White Stag: A Novel

In the goblin and human world of Permafrost in WHITE STAG, Janneke is a 17-year-old human living in the Permafrost world after being taken captive by goblin Lydian when he burned down her village a hundred years ago. Now, Janneke serves Lydian’s nephew Soren, and when the Goblin King dies, she joins Soren on the Hunt that will determine the next Elderking. Throughout the Hunt, Janneke and Soren are put in more danger than ever as they face threats from every part of the Permafrost. Janneke knows it is only a matter of time before they must face Lydian again, along with the horrible things he did to her when she was his captive. As a trigger warning, WHITE STAG does have violence and mentions of rape and sexual assault, sometimes graphic, and Barbieri makes sure to mention this in an author’s note before the start of the book.

The world of WHITE STAG is wonderfully intricate and the beings that live in the Permafrost are many, it seems. I wonder if more animals than those we saw in book one exist, and if we’ll see more in the second book? The ending of WHITE STAG sets the next book up in a very clever way as throughout the novel readers hear Lydian saying some nonsense about a serpent and a tail. I also enjoyed the theme of monsters that was prevalent throughout the novel. While Janneke at first thinks that all goblins are monsters and that humans are the good ones, her perspective changes as she sees goodness in the goblins and evil in humans. Janneke’s acceptance of who she is also plays into this as readers can see her growth into a more mature girl that doesn’t fight who she is anymore.

"Wonderfully intricate...If you If you enjoyed the Hunger Games series and [are] looking for something fresh and exciting, then definitely give WHITE STAG a read."

While Janneke has major character growth, I feel that Soren stays the same. What changes about Soren is how readers, and Janneke, start to view him. At first Soren is associated with a sort of “master to Janneke” role and we, as readers, experience the fear and hatred Janneke has towards his kind. I don’t know exactly when in the book this happens, but suddenly Soren becomes someone who we know Janneke can implicitly trust. This is a credit to Barbieri’s writing style as readers are able to really get to know Janneke and feel her emotions.

I do have to admit that I wanted to see more build up to the romance in the book. I love feeling anticipation before romance happens so that when two characters finally get together it’s this climax to the romance. Some of my favorite parts of the book include the fight scenes. Janneke is so strong and even though she is a human in a world full of goblins, she doesn’t back down from any fight and proves herself again and again that she can defend herself. In all honesty, at the some points, the Hunt reminded me of the arena and the Hunger Games universe in general from the first Hunger Games book. Also, there is a character from WHITE STAG who reminds me of Rue from THE HUNGER GAMES as well.

If you enjoyed the Hunger Games series and want to read a book that has similar elements of violence and fighting, but at the same time want to read something new, then WHITE STAG is the book for you. I haven’t read that many books with goblins as main characters, and I highly recommend this one. If you’re looking for something fresh and exciting, then definitely give WHITE STAG a read.

Reviewed by Ilona Kaydanov on January 15, 2019

White Stag: A Novel
by Kara Barbieri