A disappointing read... White Stag by Kara Barbieri (Review)

White Stag
(Permafrost #1)
By Kara Barbieri
YA Fantasy
Hardcover, Paperback & ebook, 368 Pages
January 8th 2019 by Wednesday Books


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.

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.

Praise for the Book

"Janneke’s epic journey to overcome past horrors and seize her rightful place in the world is packed with equally gripping action and emotion. Readers will flock to this compelling debut." —Booklist, STARRED Review

"A promising debut from a gifted young writer!" Anna Todd, New York Times bestselling author of the After series

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My Review

WHITE STAG is a gritty story, full of danger and romance, of a girl who lives in the two worlds of humans and goblins. This motley crew of characters face death and the loss of their world as they go hunting after the white stag. Recommended to those who enjoy fantasy stories set in the world of fairies, goblins, and the underworld, and fans of WINTERSONG by S. Jae-Jones.

I loved the beginning of this story! They way the goblins were portrayed and the whole Permafrost where they rule was unique, but also felt accurate. The characters were complex and you can feel that there is a lot of plotting going on and the desperation of the characters to either rule, to destroy, or to be set free. I also liked how Soren was portrayed initially - being this old, powerful being without much heart, except for his feelings for Janneke. I also really liked Janneke and her painful past who has been trying to survive among the Goblins for a very long time. I would say I was completely engrossed all the way to the beginning of the hunt. Then things changed for me...

It's like Soren's personality changed. He began coming across not as he was in the beginning, but as more of a regular teenage boy instead of the ancient goblin lord. He's super powerful in the beginning and then it's like he doesn't have the same power. And then there's swearing out of the blue which felt weird given the setting and context. I liked the pull and tug of Soren's and Janneke's relationship, but then it turns into all about how much they want each other... and the story starts to drag. It felt like it needed some additional editing to take out some things and make the characters and story more consistent. It just didn't make sense to me that you have these all powerful beings who somehow aren't all that powerful and who are on an even playing field with some who don't wield any power... like Janneke. And the characters didn't feel realiable or consistent with who they were supposed to be or who they're presented in the beginning. Well, except Janneke stays pretty true except when she starts acting all angsty and throwing fits. There's even this other goblin who has lived for a long time among these older, cold, violent goblins, but doesn't act like it. Plus you have days that pass where the characters are just healing and resting, which didn't make sense to me during the hunt. It just didn't work for me, unfortunately.

In the end, was it what I wished for? I was disappointed in the flip of this story, with the first part being well written and having interesting characters and plot, but then changing to a romance that pretty much consumed the story and actions and dialogue that didn't make sense to me for these characters. It needed more consistency. Maybe because it started as a serial? Having said that, I think some readers won't have my issues, such as those who love similar books that are heavy on the romance.

Content: Swearing (including the f-word multiple times), references to rape, some descriptive violence (including some gory parts), innuendo, descriptive making out, one love scene.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.

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