Hello all! Today, I’m reviewing White Stag by Kara Barbieri which was one of my anticipated releases in 2019! Sadly, I felt a bit let down by it. Want to know why? Keep reading… 😉
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.
First things first, I love a good goblin story. Tell me a book has goblins in it and I will immediately be interested. Add in a frozen wilderness and you can understand why I was so eager to read this one. And while I did like aspects of it, it didn’t work for me as a whole.
The setting was pretty good but didn’t feel 100% realised. I felt as if the random Norse elements were kind of thrown in and didn’t add anything to my enjoyment of the story; if anything, they felt jarring and unnecessary.
There was a quality to this book that I can’t quite put my finger on but it was one which held me back from giving a higher rating. It was a kind of immaturity? I don’t want to come across as judgemental but I could definitely tell that this book started out in life on Wattpad. I feel like it needed even more editing than what it would have received. The writing was very repetitive and juvenile.
But listen. It wasn’t all bad. I did appreciate the mental health themes (particularly as these are still pretty rare in fantasy novels). The exploration of Janneke’s PTSD and her journey of healing from that trauma were nicely done and it’s just a shame that the writing quality detracted from what could have been a very powerful book.
I feel like this review was so harsh! And I didn’t mean it to be. I always hate to criticise a book knowing someone put their heart and soul into it. But hey, maybe this one will work for you where it didn’t work for me – I know plenty of readers who loved it. We can’t enjoy them all!
What are you all reading these days? Are you enjoying it? Let me know in the comments! x