White Stag by Kara Barbieri | Essentially a very special human bean

Posted January 2, 2019 by Sophia

White Stag by Kara Barbieri | Essentially a very special human bean

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Content and Trigger Warning: This book contains content that may be triggering to some, which we will try our best provide below the synopsis.
White Stag by Kara Barbieri | Essentially a very special human beanWhite Stag by Kara Barbieri
Permafrost #1
Published by Wednesday Books on January 8, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: Publisher

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.

A copy of the book was provided for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore does not affect the opinion or content of the review.

Wowowow the synopsis on top of the pretty cover for White Stag called for my name and beckoned me to come and dig myself into a hole for winter break big time.

White Stag has an amazing first chapter.

Barbieri grabbed my attention with her debut from the very beginning, introducing us to a world where humans and goblins know of each others’ existence. The first chapter is action-packed and fast-paced, quickly grabbing my attention and making me want more from the novel.

“More monster than human.”

Janneke is a human girl who has spent over a century with goblins after her family and village is slaughtered, working as a thrall for one of the goblins. Through observation and her father’s teachings, she’s one of the few people who survived longer than most. With those years of survival and living, though, she’s also slowly lost touch with the human world. Despite wanting to return to the human world and start her life over, she knows it is no longer the same, and it is a struggle for her throughout the book.

Something about the relationship bothers me a little.

I can’t place my finger on what it is, exactly, but something about Janneke’s relationship with Sorren bothers me a little. I guess I didn’t care about their relationship? Maybe being in a relationship with someone who technically owns me isn’t my thing at all even though Sorren treats her better than any of the other goblins? I honestly don’t know.

So much about rape and flashbacks.

I’m pretty sure there are at least twenty different ways Barbieri tells us Janneke was brutally raped before she gets placed under Sorren’s care. It’s implied, it’s told, it’s shoved in my face and it’s used as one of her struggles to accept her transition into becoming a goblin, etc.

And honestly? Without her rape being involved, Janneke is essentially a very special human bean who assimilated into goblin culture with her fierceness and no bullshittery. There’s nothing else about her as a character, but maybe we’ll see more in the second book?

Slow, but interesting.

I think I got caught at a good time while reading this. White Stag is slow, but it was interesting. And if I started reading this a few days later, I would likely say differently because I’m a big mood reader. No book likes to be caught in one of my bad reading days when I go all stabby (aka extremely critical) with books.

Sophia started blogging in February 2012 for the hell of it and is surprisingly still around. She has a GIF for nearly everything, probably listens to too much K-Pop and is generally in an existential crisis of sorts (she's trying her best). In 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor's in Communications and minor in Women's Studies. More of her bookish reviews and K-pop Roundups can be found at The Arts STL.

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14 responses to “White Stag by Kara Barbieri | Essentially a very special human bean

  1. I’ve just started the book and I think the past rape has been implied about 3 times in the first 10% and it’s hard to read.
    I like Sorren in he’s the best of evil Goblin bunch, he hasn’t got much else going for him at the minute so I’ll have to see what I think of it when I finish!
    I really enjoyed your review!

  2. I remember seeing the cover and description to this book and thinking this book could go either way for me depending on the direction the author takes. I agree that the idea of a relationship between a thrall and her master sounds really disturbing. I might pick this up later because you make the world sound so fascinating, but I also have a lot of other books that are higher up on my priority list!

    • I was hoping this would be a really good one for me, haha. The world and I got along well, along with the concept. The relationship, however… meh.

      Anyways, I do hope you’ll enjoy White Stag if you choose to get around to it, Crystal! 🙂

  3. Uma

    I think I’d definitely have issues with the relationship too! Janneke doesn’t sound that great and I definitely don’t like that the rape is used as a character growth device when she doesn’t have much of a character in the first place! I’ve seen this book around but I’m not sure I’ll be picking it up anytime soon!

    • I don’t think you’re alone with the relationship issues (aside from me, haha). Janneke could have been great, but it ended up backfiring, unfortunately. 🙁

  4. This one sounds like a bit of a mess. Interesting premise and a lackluster execution in character development. I’m not sure if this is one I want to check out. Great review!

  5. This is such an awesome review! I’ve been wanting to read this and your review makes me want to read it even more! Also I LOVE the layout of your review?? It is like so prettyy and ahhh. Happy New Year!

  6. UH OH. DID YOU SURVIVE THOUGH. ARE YOU OKAY?!?!!? SAMMMMMMM! We can’t have you dying, LOL. Not over my dragon.

    White Stag is definitely making the rounds! Not as much as some of the others, but definitely enough that people are paying attention (within good reason – the idea is great, I’ll admit).

  7. OOF. But yes, you’ve got a point! Thanks for pointing that out, Lindsi. <3 I've thought about DNFing, but then decided against it because I've already DNFed like 2-3 books in a row already. 🙁