Synopsis: 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 that 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.
* I received an e-arc from the publisher to participate in this blog tour, yet that doesn’t affect my review in any way. *
Hello, everyone! Today, on my blog tour stop for White Stag by Kara Barbieri, we’re celebrating the official release of this wonderful 2019 debut full of magic, adventure, power, blood and romance! White Stag was one of those books I started reading without really knowing what I was really getting myself into because because I had no idea what to expect from it and I’m actually glad about that because I’ve realized that going in blind helps me enjoy books a lot better! I do have to admit that at first, after reading a couple of the reviews that were already out, I was scared I would not get to enjoy this as much as I hoped to, but thank God my brain was wrong because I ended up loving it!
This book ended up being my second read of the year and I’m very glad about it because after my last reads of 2018 I thought it would be hard to continue with a good reading streak in 2019, but I was wrong once again! 2 books down already and they’ve been great! I really enjoyed the story that Barbieri brought to life through White Stag because it ended up being better than I ever imagined it could be. It was full of all those little things I love: a vast magical setting, an intriguing and intense adventure, troubled, dark and interesting characters that either grow on you or make you want to get into the story and rip their heads off, and some very powerful fights not only between or against goblins, but also against mythical creatures from Norse mythology that made Janneke’s journey through the Hunt all kinds of interesting and wild! Something that I loved about Janneke’s journey was that I felt like every encounter she had with the different kinds of characters we get to meet indirectly helped her see and accept the fact that: “We are all monsters even if we chose not to believe so”.
I really liked how the topic of monsters was touched and handled through the story because the author does a great job in letting you connect–or at least understand–Janneke’s dilemma with the inhabitants of the Permafrost and herself through her strong and consistent writing. Another thing that really had me loving this story from beginning to end were the elements of Norse mythology that are present in it. I don’t know lot about Norse mythology, but I did recognize quite a few stuff that go from some of the many mythical creatures that we encounter, to the characters and their beliefs, and even some important characters that we get to meet as the story is reaching its climax–which was amazing, by the way. Also, the way she manages to slow the story down during the right moments to explain and let the reader know about the Hunt, Goblin history and the mythical creatures—even if it’s not as much as I would’ve liked—was actually pretty smooth and enjoyable.
Throughout this book we get to visit and explore some areas of the vast and powerful world of the Permafrost and I loved every second of it. We go from the Erlking Palace to the dense forest as Janneke, Soren and their allies follow the trail of the stag during the beginning of the Hunt, to the hazardous Fire Bog, to the cold mountains of the wolves and even to the very place where the Permafrost and the human world meet. These different settings that we visit were very interesting and deadly in their own way because of various spoilery reasons that you will have to find out for yourselves—and that are very, very interesting and twisted. But besides visiting some wonderful places, we also get to meet quite a few dark and twisted characters that want nothing but to see Janneke herself dead, but we also get to meet another few that want her to either be free, herself, or to finally accept what she was born to be. Some of my favorite characters were Soren, Rekke, Donnar, Seppo, Skadi, and the wolves, not just because they were main characters who played very important parts, but because of the way they all helped Janneke accept who she is, what she is becoming, and to realize that no matter what, she always has a choice.
Overall, White Stag ended up being a dark fantasy adventure full of monsters that I got to enjoy from beginning to end and now I can’t wait to see more of it on the sequel! If you’re a sucker for dark fantasy then watch out because this book might be your next favorite read!
Thanks for passing by & reading! X
Kara Barbieri is a writer living in the tiny town of Hayward, Wisconsin. An avid fantasy fan, she began writing White Stag at eighteen and posting it to Wattpad soon after under the name of ‘Pandean’. When she’s not writing, you can find her marathoning Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reviving gothic fashion, and jamming to synthpop.