Saturday, December 1, 2018

ARC Review: White Stag by Kara Barbieri

White Stag by Kara Barbieri
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: January 9th, 2019
Format: egalley*

My Rating: 
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
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.
This is one of those books that upfront I was not really a fan of and was really unsure of but by the end I was pretty happy with how it ended. It's also one of those books that I have a hard time figuring out how to review it. I gave the book the benefit of the doubt with these, because this is a debut so improvement can always be made on your writing.

A few things early on in the book made me pretty unsure about it. The plot of the story is about a girl that was taken as a teen when her village was burned down and she lives it what is called the Permafrost with Goblins. Due to the magic of this place, she has been living as a 17-year old girl for over a century. That made me a little eh about it, because what is the point on her being that young? It also made me question if this book is really YA, or is it marketed as YA just because the age of the character? It's something I have been questioning a lot in YA books lately, so I don't think this is something specific to this book.

The other thing that bothered me was the Goblins themselves. It seems to be explained MUCH later in the book that they use glamour and their true forms are the grotesque Goblins we are thinking of, but up front they are written as really beautiful. I almost felt like I could replace the word "Goblin" in this novel with "Elves." I'm going to call them "David Bowie Goblins" because to me it seems like the author was really just writing them as the Goblin King in The Labyrinth. Also there is a She-Goblin named Elvira in this book, and I'm sorry but I can't read that name and not think of The Mistress of the Dark!

These were kind of nit-picky things, because I found the plot of the hunt for the White Stag to determine the next Goblin King to be really interesting. There is a lot of action here and it somewhat takes on a Quest Narrative with Janneke having to go through trials to get to the end. There was a lot of cool magical creatures as the book progressed, so that did start to hold my attention more. 

I did find Janneke's background really interesting, and at times I thought I might have liked a story about her early life a little better. I also was interested in how far things have progressed since her village burned down. It seems like she was around during an early Nordic time period, but when she meets men in this book it seems like no time has passed. I was interested to see if the human world is in the modern time yet, but it's never explained. 

I liked the end of this book, and was pretty happy with it, but I am unsure if I will want to continue with this series. I think if you liked Sky in The Deep by Adrienne Young you will like this book. 

*I received a review egalley via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review

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Happy Reads Everyone!