Title: White Stag (Permafrost #1)
Author: Kara Barbieri
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction, Romance, New Adult
Publisher: Wednesday Books
No. of pages: Hardcover, 368
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Date Read: December 23, 2018
Links to purchase: HERE
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 sense 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.
Thanks to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for an advanced e-copy and thanks to Wednesday Books for including me on the blog tour!
I first heard of White Stag a few months ago. I can’t remember if it was on Instagram or Goodreads, but it seemed like one I needed to read. It looked entertaining and one that would hold my attention. After reading, it clearly was entertaining, it held my attention, but it was also a GREAT fantasy read that I really truly enjoyed.
White Stag follows Janneke, a seventeen-year-old girl who survived her village being burned down and captured by Lydian, the goblin who did it and then given to his nephew, Soren. When we first meet Janneke, she’s been under Soren’s care for a century and has privileges with Soren that most other human servants do not. As Soren and Janneke attend court, during a fight with Lydian, the white stag that serves by the Goblin King’s side to help balance power runs, the Erlking dies, and the hunt begins again for the white stag to see who will become the next royal. Soren sees the hunt as an opportunity for Janneke to adapt further as she’s already proven to understand goblin ways; Janneke sees this as something that will rob her of her humanity forever. As the hunt truly beings, Soren and Janneke are joined by three other goblins as allies to hunt the stag. The hunt courses through dangerous landscapes, ambushes, and traitorous allies. As Janneke begins to learn more about herself, she learns things about her previous life that she didn’t know before and realizes that she’s where she belongs. Her journey continues and she becomes more adapted to the goblin realm, she also realizes that she cares more for Soren, and Soren for her, more than they both originally let on. Things begin to unravel as the hunt boils down to the last remaining goblins and Janneke will play a bigger part than anyone, herself included, expected.
This was such a great fantasy read. Barbieri gave enough information to build the world upon while still keeping it concise, to the point, and it allowed the story to progress smoothly. From beginning to end, it was full of action, adventure, moments of terror, and moments of care. This world of the Permafrost that Barbieri has created is one that holds so much potential in future additions to the series. I also loved all the secondary characters that she included to help Soren and Janneke. Rekke and Seppo were great additions to this story and became goblins that Janneke truly came to care for and wanted the best for them.
I loved Janneke’s character. She was a survivor, strong-willed, stubborn, and sarcastic. She had the worst experiences happen to her, and yet she still fought and survived. One thing that I wish had been noted more within the advertisement of the book was a warning for the flashbacks of violence and rape that Janneke endured while under the care of Lydian. If someone who was to read this were to be a survivor of domestic violence or sexual assault, this could possibly bring those memories to the surface and trigger feelings of anxiety, etc. Janneke throughout the book deals with anxiety even at Lydian’s voice and experiences waves of PTSD. Soren through the book is constantly reminding her that she is safe and that Lydian can’t touch her ever again.
Though this book is written and labeled as YA, I truly felt like it would be better categorized as New Adult. Even though the protagonist is seventeen when she is captured, we meet her when she is one hundred seventeen/eighteen and the themes throughout are a bit mature at times for teen readers.
Overall, I truly loved this book. It’s one that I hope to read again soon in the future and I can’t wait to read the next installment. Barbieri really has created a great fantasy read. Her characters leave an impression and you really hope the best for them. The ending is one that leaves you hanging to where you’ll feel like you the next on immediately. White Stag releases January 8th and I can’t wait for y’all to get a chance to read it!
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.