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.
I know morality and/or villainy (monsters) was heavily emphasized in White Stag but I admit that I didn’t like the outcome in this novel. I thought there was something missing despite how the author tried to describe what makes one a monster, and other descriptions about the Permafrost. There truly wasn’t much of a back story (or at least, I didn’t remember any back story) especially when it was needed. Examples include: the reader doesn’t even know what the original Erlkönig was like or if Soren and his uncle were the only “royal” Goblins (but they’re under the Erlkönig).
Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed with any of the characters nor this book’s world-building. However, I think Barbieri is a good writer but there are just some areas in this novel that can be edited and/or improved such as the chemistry (romance) and character depth (and/or character development) just to name a few. Even if this had been the case, the story was still slightly entertaining. My only gripe was that there really was nothing unique about this novel. Replace “goblin” with “fae” and there really will be no difference. There was no significance for any of the characters to be a Goblin.
Additionally, if you strip away the mc’s name/identity, the main character can be similar to Feyre from A Court of Thorns and Roses and Jude Duarte from The Cruel Prince. Again. There was nothing unique about the main character (or I can’t recall any unique qualities). While this book wasn’t my cup of tea, I would recommend this book to fans of Sarah J Maas’ books and to those who wanted to get into YA literature. However, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this one to those who have read many YA novels. I felt that White Stag was a generic YA and the main character has the qualities of many popular YA protagonists already. Read this book for entertainment (when you’re interested) but if you’re looking for some new unique fantasy, this isn’t it!
Finally, trigger warning: rape, all kinds of abuse, etc.
**Huge thanks to the publisher for the electronic copy in exchange for an honest review.