White Stag

By Kara Barbieri

Release Year: 2019

Genre: Fantasy, New Adult

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.71

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. (Goodreads)

Considering I am not super acquainted with fantasy it probably isn’t surprising that I found the concept of this book considerably unique and subsequently interesting. Adn though I must admit I don’t think the writing is the best, what it achieved is admirable. Aspects of the story aren’t outright told and action scenes are handled well and are easy to follow. 

Arguably, the poor writing can be excused due to the fact that this is the writer’s debut novel. And by no means is the writing horrible, it just shows that this writer still has some growth ahead of them and honestly don’t we all? My main problems with the story come from the characters and the fact that they often come off as two dimensional with very basic motivations. The romantic subplot comes off as undeniably forces and is unnecessary to the story. The romantic subplot could have been reduced to a platonic relationship and the dynamic between the characters would have remained largely unchanged.  
For a debut novel this book is surprising well-done. The author definitely has talent, though she definitely has room for growth (which makes me all the more excited for her future works. In the end I gave this book a primarily subjective rating heavily due to my relatively low expectations with not only book but the genre. In the end I was left with an appreciation for higher fantasy I did not prior have. Though I am curious how my opinion will change as I become more acquainted with similar storylines. My final rating is a solid 4.5 stars.  

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