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 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.
Fly Girl’s Review:
This one has been talked about all over the internet where young adult books are talked of for months. It is finally out for the mass public to read. Kara Barbieri is a debut author who started out on WATTPAD. It was so popular that it was advocated for publishing. It was picked up and I believe it will be a bestseller. This book has everything that makes young adult book successful: romance, a fight for independence, and a journey of self discovery.
White Stag grabbed me from paragraph two. It was wild and untamed with lots of action and crazy characters in a world of the “Whitewalker” theme. I really was taken with the multicultural romance between the human and goblin. It gave a different level of complexity to it. Also, she kept information back which made you want to continue reading until the details were revealed. She took this story and ran with it right out of the gate, but don’t think this is an easy story, because it isn’t. There is a lot of self discovery for Janneke to get through and much of it deals with self forgiveness, survivors guilt, and acceptance of who she is. These are dealt with through her experiences with other creatures of the Permafrost and the White Stag. The White Stag is the existential portion of the story that leads to Janneke’s final self discovery in the first part of the series. Although this book deals with a lot of heavy topics, it is done in a fanciful way filled with adventure.
As good as the book is, I have to give it a 4.5 of 5 because there is a cliffhanger. I don’t usually draw the line there, but the existential ideas take a little bit to get through also so those two keep it at a 4.5 rating. But believe you me, I’ll be one-clicking the next book in the series when it releases.
Fly Girl’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 Propellers
Connect with Kara Barbieri
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