Title: WHITE STAG
Author: KARA BARBIERI
Publishes: 8TH JANUARY 2019 BY WEDNESDAY BOOKS
Genre: FANTASY (marketed as YA, but I wouldn’t recommend for younger than 16; trigger warnings apply)
White Stag, the first book in a brutally stunning series by Kara Barbieri, involves a young girl who finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.
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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.
This was a strangely interesting story with some unique aspects that were unexpected. I really enjoyed the new take on goblins, as you usually see them being portrayed as revolting beings. In this, they were more appealing and very like most fae descriptions. I’ve never read a story about goblins who were beautiful in their usual form… So that was kinda cool. I also enjoyed Janneke’s relationship with both Soren and Seppo. It was nice to see that she wasn’t subjugated to their culture entirely. She did have some freedom with being a thrall. Though, the slave culture put me off… The Hunt was interesting and the bulk of that kept me reading, alongside her journey to figure out what made her different.
Something that did bother me was the use of rape to elicit sympathy for the MC. I did enjoy her as a character, but felt the assault she endured could have been any other type aside from sexual and fulfilled the same purpose. In any case, there should be a content warning for readers who are sensitive to this type of material. I’ve a few friends who wouldn’t be able to read this because of the content.
Also, very early on on the story it talks about how wolves are always fighting for dominance amongst themselves, which is verifiable untrue. Wolves do not fight for dominance within their pack, as it is a family unit and they help each other to survive. Quite often, the young will stay in the pack to help look after the next year’s litter and learn how to raise pups, etc., then the adult will chase them away to start or join a new pack and help diversify the genetic pool. The scientist who stated wolves vie for dominance was studying captive wolves who do not behave the same as in the wild…and he subsequently retracted his claims after studying wolves in the wild.
So, all in all, I didn’t love this novel, but I probably will give book 2 a chance. Who knows…it could be mind-blowing. Anyway, I gave this THREE STARS because of the triggering (in my opinion, unnecessary) content, as well as the inaccurate portrayal of wolf behaviour.
Will you be reading it?