Title: White Stag
Series: Permafrost #1
Author: Kara Barbieri
I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley. My review is not affected by this and my opinion is 100 % my own. The book was published on 8th January.
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.
Kara aka Pandean, which is how I know her from Wattpad, has really created something special here. The worldbuilding, which somehow relates to Nordic mythology with mentions of Hel and Valhalla, was done really well and information was released bit by bit at just the right time. Also, because I’m Danish (and have thereby grown up with Nordic Mythology) books that include Norse Mythology in some way is automatically that much more interesting to me.
Janneke is fierce and strong, having spent 100 years as a thrall (slave) in the Permafrost where Goblins rule. I love her character, her scars, both physically and mentally, and her development throughout the book, how she grows and slowly comes to terms with what is happening to her. She’s not a perfect person, which is the best kind of book character there is.
Now Soren.. Oh Soren. Another character to add to the ever-growing list of Characters-I’d-Like-To…-Get-To-Know-Better.. He’s the strong protector and despite being a Goblin Lord and the one who owns Janneke, he’s very likeable, especially in the early moments when he’s clearly trying to get the grip of using sarcasm (but then also throughout the rest of the book). The glimpses of humanity in him made his character interesting and also his development and feelings towards Janneke was very well written.
Applause appplause to Kara.
The story of a hunt, a “race against time and goblins” was thrilling and exciting and I’m sort of a sucker for those kinds of plots and White Stag did not disappoint. I’m almost tempted to go straight to Wattpad and start reading the sequel, Goblin King, which is already up on Kara/Pandean’s profile, however. I think I’ll wait until it gets published as I don’t know how much was changed in White Stag from Wattpad to the published version.
I know I’ll have to get myself a physical copy of this book because I’ll definitely be rereading it again at some point, that’s for sure.
So, do I recommend this book?
Absolutely, 100 % YES!
To all YA and fantasy lovers because it deserves to be read