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Published by Wednesday Books on January 8, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: ARC, eBook
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.
The author/publisher provided a free copy of the book for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a review copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore do 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.