Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books
Date of publication: January 8th, 2019
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
White Stag–book 1
Goblin King–book 2 (unknown publication date)
The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl 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.
Janneke is the youngest in a family that consists of all girls. As her sisters got married and had children, Janneke was raised to be the male heir. She was taught to track, hunt, and fight. Then one day, the goblins razed her village. The sole survivor, Janneke is taken prisoner by Lydian. After suffering brutal rapes that disfigured her body, Janneke is brought to Lydian’s nephew barely alive. Soren is nothing like Lydian. She is allowed liberties that none of the other thralls are allowed. That includes becoming Soren’s right-hand woman in combat. Soren and Janneke are at Court when the current Goblin King dies. Soon begins The Hunt, where the nobility of Permafrost competes to be the first person to capture the White Stag. During The Hunt, Janneke must come to terms of her family’s death over 100 years ago. When she gets wind of a plan that threatens Permafrost, Janneke must do the impossible. She must stand up to her demons and banish them to save the world that she calls home. Can Janneke do it?
I had mentioned in an earlier post that I had read a few books that were based on Der Erlkonig by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe. The books before this were romances and were well written in their own way. What excited me about this book was that it wasn’t a romance. Instead, the main character was a captive in the goblin’s world. That fascinated me and was the main reason I decided to accept the invite from the publisher. I was curious.
I am glad that I did accept the review to invite this book because I was blown away. The author chose to have the goblins be humanlike instead of what people’s preconceived versions of they look like. They actually reminded me of Elves in a way. But they were able to morph into these frightening beings when angered. It was creepy to see how Lydian and Soren looked like when enraged.
I also liked that the author had this book take place in the Arctic. The other books that I have read had the books taken place in Bavaria. Which is OK but having the book set in made more sense to me. I also liked that she took a combination of Swedish, Norse and German mythology and melded them into the story. It made for an interesting read.
I thought Janneke’s storyline was heartbreaking. She suffered so much trauma that I wondered how she coped at times. She suffered insane survivor’s guilt that manifested in nightmares. My heart broke for her because up to the middle of the book, she was existing. I didn’t blame Soren for what he did to her either. If I were in his position, I would have done the same thing. I also liked that the author had Janneke deal with her issues. I cried during that scene but it needed to be done.
I didn’t like Lydian for 90% of the book. He was insane and evil. What he did to Janneke was awful. But, when Soren explained what happened to Lydian when he was younger, I felt pity for him. It didn’t excuse what he did to both Soren and Janneke but it explained a lot.
The plotline with the hunt for the White Stag was well written. I didn’t get why Janneke had such a connection to it at first. But the more I got into the book, the more the connection was explained. I was still surprised by what happened at the end of the book. I was not expecting that.
The end of White Stag was interesting. So many questions were answered. The author did a great job at ending some plotlines but leaving others open. There was a definite lead in for book 2 and I can’t wait to read it!!!
I gave White Stag a 5-star review. This is one of the best takes on the Erlkonig poem that I have read to date. I connected with each character. The plotlines were beautifully written. I couldn’t find anything to nitpick about either. A fantastic book!!
I would give White Stag an Adult rating. There is sex (not graphic). There is language. There is extreme violence. There are triggers. They would be rape and survivor’s guilt. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book. There is a graphic rape scene. There is are also several graphic battles.
I would reread White Stag. I would also recommend this book to family and friends. I would include a warning about the triggers.
I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review White Stag.
All opinion stated in this review of White Stag are mine.
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**