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January 8, 2019

White Stag by Kara Barbieri ~ a #YALit Review

by MK French

Janneke is the last child in a family of daughters, so she was raised instead as a boy would have been, hunting and tracking. As a result, she escaped the slaughter in her village but was still taken captive by Lydian. She is forced to be the thrall to his nephew Soren, who later uses the hunt for a new king after the Erlking's death to draw her further into his world. The two grow closer through the battles, and eventually, a choice has to be made in order to save both the world of monsters and that of humans.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

White Stag
Jan 2019; Wednesday Books; 9781250149589
audio, ebook, print (368 pages)
young adult, fantasy
White Stag is the start of a new series and had originally been featured on Wattpad. This is the expanded version, and I hadn't read the original. We're dropped right into the story a hundred years after Janneke's village was burned. Soren considers himself a friend to Janneke, and we get flashes of the past here and there. The goblin world is one of bleak and rigid roles, where fear is punished by others eager to prey on the weaker. It's a warrior culture that would devour itself, with members advancing with the murder of others, even family members. Janneke, having been there for so long, is starting to absorb the power of those she kills, which Soren is encouraging so that she can become more like the goblins than human. The changeling status would help her survive in their world, though that drags her further and further away from humanity.

There are references to Norse mythology, such as curses Janneke uses including "Odin's ravens." It grounds the human part of her background and memories and weaves the creatures of Norse mythology into the narrative. This is probably also why the goblins are not the small, shriveled creatures that people usually think of when they hear that word. These goblins are tall, and often can appear preternaturally attractive until they go on the hunt, in which case features elongate, and the teeth and claws sharpen into weapons. The world of the Permafrost is harsh, but we also get a chance to see the potential for beauty in it as Janneke does.

The Hunt is full of dangers, and we not only get a chance to understand Janneke and Soren more, but the other goblins working with and against them. There is a layered history here, one that is revealed in small pieces. Those that know a bit about different mythologies might guess at where the story is going to go, especially with the repetitions of the snake eating its tail, but this is still a fresh take on it. I'm completely sucked into the story, and I look forward to the rest in the series.

But White Stag at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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  1. Great review, thank you for sharing. This sounds very interesting. I love mythology in YA.

  2. I like the idea of ties to Norse mythology. Nice review!

    1. It's woven throughout the story, and I'm sure there are a lot more references that I missed!

  3. I have this ARC and hope to get to it ext week. I'm excited about all the mythology!

    1. It's a really fascinating read. I think you'll like it!

  4. Thanks for sharing. Great excerpt, and I love the cover. Here's mine: “THE WINTER SISTER”

  5. Great cover but this isn't a genre I usually read.

    1. The cover drew me in, but it is definitely playing off of mythology.

  6. The cover grabbed my attention right away.

  7. It did for me, too, and the book is just as good!