White Stag: A Novel

White Stag: A Novel

by Kara Barbieri

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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.

A Wattpad break out star with over a million reads! Now expanded, revised and available in print and eBook.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250149596
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 01/08/2019
Series: Permafrost , #1
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 83,879
File size: 4 MB
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

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.

Read an Excerpt



The first thing I learned as a hunter was how to hide. There was a skill in disappearing in the trees like the wind and merging into the river like stones; masquerading yourself as something you weren't was what kept you alive in the end. Most humans didn't think the masquerade was as important as the kill, and most humans ended up paying for it with their lifeblood.

Here, as the only mortal in a hall of monsters, I was very glad that I was not most humans.

I kept my steps silent and my back straight as I passed beneath the white marble pillars. My eyes flickered around me every so often, counting hallways, retracing my steps, so I could escape at a moment's notice. The Erlking's palace was treacherous, full of twists and turns, stairways that led into nowhere, and places where the hallways dropped to gaping chasms. According to Soren, there were also hollow spaces in the walls where you could slink around unnoticed to the mundane and the monstrous eye, but you could hear and see all that went on in the open world. The lair of a king, I thought bitterly. I dared not say it out loud in case someone was near. But beside me, Soren sensed my disgust and made a sound deep in his throat. It could've been agreement.

Soren examined his king's palace with the usual contempt; his cold, calculating eyes took in everything and betrayed nothing. His lips turned down in a frown that was almost etched permanently into his face. Sometimes I forgot he was capable of other expressions. He didn't even smile when he was killing things; as far as goblins went, that was a symptom of chronic depression. He lifted his bored gaze at the gurgling, choking sound coming from his right, and it took all my willpower not to follow his line of sight. When I felt the subtle whoosh of power transfer from one body to the next, my fingers twitched to where I'd slung my bow, only to remember too late that it had been left at the entrance of the keep in accordance with ancient tradition.

A scream echoed off the cavernous passageways as we made our way to the great hall where everyone gathered. It sent chills down my spine with its shrillness before it was abruptly cut off. Somehow, that made me shiver even more. Ancient tradition and custom aside, nothing could stop a goblin from killing you if that was what they desired. My hand reached for my nonexistent bow again, only to be captured by cold, pale fingers.

Soren's upper lip curled, but his voice was low and steady. "The next time you reach for a weapon that isn't there might be the last time you have hands to reach with," he warned. "A move like that will invite conflict."

I yanked myself away from his grip and suppressed the urge to wipe my hand on my tunic like a child wiping away cooties. "Force of habit."

Soren shook his head slightly before continuing on, his frown deepening with each step he took.

"Don't look so excited. Someone might get the wrong idea."

He raised a fine white eyebrow at me. "I don't look excited. I'm scowling."

I bit back a sigh. "It's sarcasm."

"I've told you before, I don't understand it," he said.

"None of goblinkind understands sarcasm," I said. "In another hundred years I'm going to lose my understanding completely."

Another hundred years. It hadn't hit me yet, not until I said it out loud. Another hundred years. It had been a hundred years since my village was slaughtered, a hundred years as a thrall in Soren's service. Well, ninety-nine years and eight months, anyway, but who's counting? Despite the century passing by, I still looked the same as I had when I was forcefully brought into this cursed land. Or, at least, mostly; the scars on my chest hadn't been there a hundred years ago, and the now-hollow spot where my right breast should have been burned. The four months when I'd belonged to another were not something I liked to think about. I still woke up screaming from nightmares about it. My throat went dry and I swallowed. Soren isn't Lydian.

"You look tense," Soren said, breaking me out of my thoughts. I'd crossed my arms over my chest. Not good. A movement like that was a sign of weakness. It was obvious to everyone that I was the weakest being here, but showing it would do me no good.

"I'm fine," I said. "I just don't like this place."

"Hmm," Soren said, eyes flickering around the hall. "It does lack a certain touch."

"What does that even mean?" I asked.

"The entire design of the palace is trite and overdone."

I blinked. "Okay, then."

By now we'd entered the great hall where the reception was held. Every hundred years, the goblins were required to visit the Erlking and swear their fealty. Of course, their loyalty only extended to him as long as he was the most powerful — goblins weren't the type of creature to follow someone weaker than themselves.

The palace, for what it was worth, was much grander than most other parts of the goblin domain. Soren's manor was all wood, stone, and ice, permanently freezing. Nothing grew — I knew because I had tried multiple times to start a garden — but the roots never took to the Permafrost. Here, it was warm, though not warm enough that I couldn't feel the aching chill deep in my bones. The walls were made of pure white marble with intricate designs far above what a goblin was capable of creating, and streaked with yellow and red gold like open veins. It was obviously made by humans. Goblinkind were incredible predators and hunters, gifted by the Permafrost itself, but like all creatures, they had their flaws. The inability to create anything that wasn't used for destruction was one of the main reasons humankind were often stolen from their lands on raids and put to work in the Permafrost.

Soren's scowl deepened as we passed under a canopy of ice wrought to look like vines and flowers. "I feel like I need to vomit," he said.

I stopped in my tracks. "Really?" I swore, if I ended up having to clean up Soren's vomit ...

He glanced at me, a playful light in his lilac eyes. "Sarcasm? Did I do it right?"

"No." I forced myself not to roll my eyes. "Sarcasm would be when you use irony to show your contempt."

"Irony?" He shook his head, his long white hair falling into his face.

"Saying one thing when you mean the other, dramatically."

"This is beneath me," he muttered. Then, even quieter, he said, "This place is in dire need of a redecoration."

"I'm not even entirely sure what to say to that." With those words, he flashed me a wicked grin that said little and suggested much. I turned away, actually rolling my eyes this time. For a powerful goblin lord, Soren definitely had the ability to act utterly childish. It could be almost endearing at times. This, however, was not one of those times.

In the hall, the gazes on the back of my neck were sharp as knives. I kept my head straight, trying my hardest not to pay attention to the wolfish faces of the other attendees.

From a distance they could almost be mistaken for human. They varied in size and shape and the color of their skin, hair, and eyes much like humans did. But even so, there was a sharpness to their features, a wildness, that could never be mistaken for human. The figures dressed in hunting leathers, long and lean, would only seek to torment me if I paid them any attention. As the only human in the hall, I was a curiosity. After all, what self-respecting goblin would bring a thrall to an event as important as this? That could very easily get me killed, and I wasn't planning on dying anytime soon. My hand almost twitched again, but I stopped it just in time, heeding Soren's warning.

We finally crossed the floor to where the Erlking sat. Like Soren's, the Goblin King's hair was long. But unlike Soren, whose hair was whiter than the snow, the Erlking's hair was brown. Not my brown, the color of fallen leaves, underbrush, and dark cherry wood, but murky, muddy brown. It was the color of bog mud that sucks down both humans and animals alike and it somehow managed to make his yellow-toned skin even sallower. He was the strongest of all goblins, and I hated him for it. I also feared him — I was smart enough for that — but the fear was drowned out by the blood rushing in my ears as I locked eyes with Soren's king.

Soren turned to me. "Stay here." His eyes turned hard, the glimmer of light leaving them. Whatever softness he had before drained away until what was left was the hard, cold killer he was known to be, and with it went the last shreds of warmth in his voice. "Until I tell you otherwise." Subtly, he jerked his pointer finger at the ground in a wordless warning.

I bowed my head. "Don't take too long."

"I don't plan to," he said, more to himself than to me, before approaching the Erlking's throne. He went to one knee. "My king."

I eyed Soren from underneath the curtain of my hair. His hands were clenched in fists at his sides. He must've sensed something from the Erlking, from the other goblins, something. Whatever it was, it wasn't good. Cautiously, I directed my gaze to the Goblin King himself, aware that if I looked at him the wrong way, I might be inviting my own death. While the behavior and treatment of thralls varied widely among goblins, I had a feeling submissiveness was required for any human in the Erlking's path.

This close, the Erlking's eyes were dark in his shriveled husk of skin and there was a tinge of sickness in the air as he breathed his raspy breaths. His eyes flickered up to meet mine and I bowed my head again. Don't attract attention.

Soren spat out the vows required of him in the old tongue of his kind, the words gravelly and thick. He paused every so often, like he was waiting for when he would be free to drive his hand through his king's chest, continuing on with disappointment every time.

The tension around the room grew heavier, pressing down on those gathered. Somehow, like dogs sniffing out blood, they all knew the king was weak. Beautiful she-goblins and terrifying goblin brutes were all standing there waiting until it was legal to kill him.

Beside the weakened king's throne, a white stag rested on a pile of rushes. Its eyes were closed, its breath slow. Its skin and antlers shone with youth, but the ancient power it leaked pressed heavy against my shoulders. That power was older than anything else in the world — maybe older than the world itself.

Goblins were, before all things, hunters. Born to reap and not to sow. Cursed with pain upon doing any action that did not in some way fit into the power the Permafrost gave them, the goblins fittingly had the submission of the stag as the symbol of their king's ultimate power. Until it runs.

I didn't want to think about what happened after that.

Soren continued to say his vows. The guttural language was like ice shards to my ears, and I shuddered. Catching myself about to fidget, I dug my fingers into my thigh. Control yourself, Janneke, I thought. If they can do it, you can.

A soft voice whispered in my ear, "Is that you, Janneka?" His breath tickled the back of my neck, and every muscle in my body immediately locked. Icy dread trickled down my spine, rooting me in place.

Don't pay attention to him. He'll go away.

"I know you can hear me, sweetling."

Yes, I could hear him, and the sound of his voice made me want to vomit. My mouth went dry.

Slowly, I turned toward Lydian. He looked the same as he had a hundred years ago. Long golden hair, slender muscles, a lazy, catlike gleam to his dark-green eyes, and skin the color of milk, unblemished and unmarred. High cheekbones, an aquiline nose, and the haughty look I'd so often seen on his nephew graced his features. Every so often those eyes would flicker, as if they had a mind of their own, almost as if he were seeing past me, past the Erlking, past everyone. Twitching eyes aside, goblin males might've been called "brutes," but Lydian's looks were anything but. That made me even sicker.

"How is your calf?" I asked, letting hostility seep into my voice, surprised I was able to keep the waver out of it.

He shifted his weight so it was equal on both legs. "It seems that civil conversation is still not your strong suit."

I ached to hurt the man before me. "And I suppose you know all about civil conversation? Where I come from, leaving someone for dead doesn't count as 'civil.'"

Lydian's face was a blank slate, but I could see the storm beginning to stir beneath the surface, and I didn't fail to notice him shifting his weight back onto his good leg. You don't want to anger him, a tiny voice in my head reminded me; a fearful voice that knew exactly what he could and would do. The same voice that reminded me he was so much stronger than I'd ever be, that he could hurt me with his little finger if he wanted to, if I angered him enough. I'd paid the price of that lesson in blood, and it wasn't something I'd soon forget. But another voice, strong with hatred, craved to hurt him and to see him bleed. Before the Permafrost, it never occurred to me that you could both hate and fear something at the same time, but when it came to Lydian, those were the only two emotions I was capable of. His nephew, however ...

Finally, he spoke again, and the softness of his voice somehow made it even more threatening. "Well, we're not where you come from, are we?"

"Go eat your young," I spat.

Lydian's head jerked, and he shook himself. The faraway look in his green eyes grew cloudy. "It seems you've become even more insolent and ignorant since our last encounter. Perhaps I should teach you a lesson."

Oh no, I've had enough of those. It'd been many years since I'd learned backing down from a fight would get me more injured than starting one. In the Permafrost, it was better to hide your fear than let it show. I infused strength in my voice. "And perhaps you'll end up with iron poisoning again, and the Permafrost will be relieved of your cancerous presence so it can continue turning like it should."

"Oh, you have no idea what happens when the serpent stops eating his tail," he hissed.

His motion was a blur barely able to be registered by the human eye. But I'd anticipated Lydian's attack from the moment I heard his familiar voice, and so when he raised his hand toward me — fingernails lengthening into claws — I was ready.

Still, he managed to brush against my cheek, almost like a caress, until thin lines of blood trickled from the cuts.

Instinct took over, and I danced backward until I could jump on what must've been a sacrificial table. I went into a crouch, my hands touching something warm and wet. Bile rose in my throat as I looked at the dead boar beneath my fingers.

Lydian howled a shrill, screechlike howl. The sound sent pain down my spine, and my arms shook; any louder and I had a feeling my ears would be bleeding. It took everything I had not to freeze from fear.

With that piercing howl the rest of the party took interest. Even the Erlking looked from where he sat on his throne, staring at me, at the fight between the prey and the hunter who sneered up at her. Soren rose, midvow, and his eyes caught mine. Be careful, they said. I can't help you. If he beats you, I will bring you back to life and murder you myself for the disgrace.

It was good to know I had someone on my side.

I swallowed, trying desperately to push down the fear rising in my throat. Fear dulled the mind and I couldn't allow it, but try as I might, little trickles spread throughout my body, inciting panic.

Without the disadvantage that came with emotions, Lydian saw his opening and lunged at me. We toppled to the ground, pain searing through my shoulder as I crashed into the hard floor.

His talons tore at my face, perilously close to my eyes, and for a terrifying moment, the wind was knocked out of me so I could do nothing to defend myself. His teeth were now fangs, snapping at my throat.

"Why can't you listen?" he growled. The feel of his body on mine and those too-familiar words brought back memories seeped in despair. Don't remember. Stop remembering. He cannot take you. "I tried to tell you! I tried to! What happens when the serpent stops eating his tail?"

I pushed his face away. Years of training with Soren came back to me as I dug my nails into his eyes. Lydian shrieked again, and blood trickled from my ears. Sound faded away until all that was left was a dull ringing, the ranting of the mad goblin before me, now only a distant echo in my head. I slammed my knee into his stomach, satisfied when the air whooshed out of him. Seconds later, a fist knocked into the side of my face, and I saw stars as my head cracked against the floor. For a terrifying moment, I forgot how to move, but then I jabbed my finger into the iron-poisoned wound I'd created in his leg long ago. Forgetting my fear and replacing it with cold, hard rage, I let go. Blood dripped from his eyes where I'd dug my fingernails in, and he lashed at me again. Hot wetness spread across my chest.

It was now or never. With muscles burning and fueled by hate, I pulled my legs up until they bunched under his chest and I could reach my boots. With my hands free, I dug under the straps, right as he went for the opening in my chest.


Excerpted from "White Stag"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Kara Barbieri.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Author's Note,
Part One: The Captive,
1. Masquerade,
2. Predators,
3. A Heart Freshly Broken,
4. Beginnings,
5. Hunting,
6. Hard Truths,
7. Birth,
8. Rapprochement,
Part Two: The Huntress,
9. Panic,
10. Monsters,
11. To Feel,
12. Dragon Killers,
13. Dearest Wish,
14. Needless/Wantless,
15. Lydian's Gambit,
16. Mother of Wolves,
Part Three: The Stag,
17. Growth,
18. Burnt Lands,
19. Salt of the Earth,
20. Iron Fire,
21. The Witching Hour,
22. White Stag,
Epilogue: The Serpent,
About the Author,

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White Stag: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Bookbookowl More than 1 year ago
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of White Stag in exchange for an honest review. When Janneke is the sole survivor of a goblin attack on her village, her troubles have just begun.  Taken prisoner by a truly monstrous goblin, Lydian, and subjected to untold horrors, she only escapes death when he throws her at his nephew, Soren's, feet as a gift.   At the end of each goblin king's rule, a white stag is hunted, killed and reborn to decide who the next king will be.  But the stag isn't the only one being hunted.  Only one goblin can be king and the goblins who are powerful enough to compete for the throne will also try to kill each other.  When Soren asks Janneke to come on the hunt with him, in a race where Lydian is the main competition, she has to make decisions about her own future, where she belongs in the world and what really constitutes a monster. White Stag was brutal, heart stopping and had all the elements of a brilliant YA fantasy.  Goblins, a great hunt, monsters, complicated relationships and strong characters.  Janneke was just such a SURVIVOR.   Soren was wonderful and I actually really loved  Seppo.  I hope we see a lot more of both of them in book two! This is the type of book that could easily enter fandom territory.  There are some truly incredible characters in it and I can't wait for the next book!
onemused More than 1 year ago
"White Stag" is a really fantastic YA fantasy that I was absolutely pulled into and found it hard to put down. We mainly follow Janneke/Janneka (male/female declension as she was raised to be a male heir), a human who was captured and brought into the Permafrost by a goblin. Since then, she has been a thrall (slave) to goblins. The first goblin (Lydian) who enslaved her tortured her (see warnings below) before giving her as a gift to his nephew (Soren). Soren has treated her quite differently, as a friend/confidante, and in that time, Janneke has begun to trust him although she has never forgotten what he is (a monster as she was raised to believe). Janneke both fears and hates Lydian, determined to kill him but frightened of the terrible torture he inflicted on her. At a goblin gathering, she begins to fight with him (and thus Soren joins in to protect her). The fight ends because the Erlking (goblin king) has died and the stag has been released. The white stag is the embodiment of the goblin king's power and belongs to the strongest goblin. The deadly hunt begins, all the goblins who wish to become king heading out to find the stag and become the next king, forming temporary alliances and frequently backstabbing. Before they leave, Soren tells Janneke something she finds quite frightening- she may be joining with the permafrost as a changeling, transforming into the "monsters" she fears- a goblin. Determined to fight it with every beat of her heart, Janneke is thrust even further into the dangerous realm and the deadly politics that are arising. Full of magical creatures, battles, and even a touch of romance, this book was absolutely incredible, and I really loved every step of the journey. I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who loves engaging YA fantasy. However, I would add warnings for rape (in the past/acknowledged, not described in too much detail), torture (physical and mental), and mutilation (could fall under torture). One of the major themes of the book is that our choices are what make us monsters, not our very essence, and that everyone could be a monster to someone else/elements of perspective (you are a monster to the animals you kill for food or to the grass that you walk on, etc.). This was a really important and intriguing discussion which underlies a lot of the epiphanies in the book. To add to that, the characters were all very well fleshed out and there were so many I really enjoyed, especially Seppo, but also of course the main two of Soren and Janneke. Although the description talks about Janneke being raised as a male, this was a relatively smaller piece of the story and only mentioned occasionally in reflections/was not as big a part of the book as I expected from the description. Instead, we mostly see Janneke's journey to come to terms with all her past, present, and future and understand/appreciate who she is. Overall, I really loved this story, and I cannot wait until the next is released. While there's a bit of a lead-in to the next book, this one is wrapped up/not a big cliffhanger. This was an incredible world, and I absolutely loved every second I spent in it. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Cyn_Ayala23 6 months ago
Fascinating novel. The most substantial aspect of this novel is the fact that it follows Janneke, a character who is a survivor. After her village was decimated, leaving her the sole survivor, by Goblins, monsters of remarkable beauty that raid and pillage, Janneke was taken prisoner, a slave, repeatedly raped and beaten for decades as she served under a monster stronger than her. However, brute strength is not the only type of power; there are wit and determination, both of which Janneke use to overpower her abuser and escape him. However, she escaped him for another, kinder, Goblin master as the laws of the Permafrost bind her. That is where the story begins, going back into the past to explore the pain that the Janneke still holds close to her. She is a survivor, but even after years, her former abuser still has some sort of power over her. He lingers, like a shadow, over her, coming through her scars, her memories, and the pain that lingers there. So, the story is a journey for her, to overcome that pain, to overcome the past and search inside of herself to find self-love, to find respect for herself and uncover the strength that had saved her once and use it to replace her pain. It is an empowering journey that unfolds, and Janneke faces so many obstacles in this journey, more monsters, that seek to destroy her from the inside out because she is human. There is also a risk here for her, a risk that Janneke also fears: that overcoming her pain means she would become a monster. However, that is the power of the novel as it focuses on her and her journey, to uncover her strength and move on past the pain of losing her family and her innocence. As for the story, let us list the trigger warnings: sexual assault/rape, torture, body mutilation, and emotional abuse. These are essential aspects of the novel because they all connect to Janneke’s journey. That being said, they are uncomfortable scenes, and, at times, hard to read. They are not explicit, but there is enough detail there in those scenes that will make the reader's skin crawl because of how Janneke’s emotions burn off pages. They are not meant to be easy scenes to read, as they never should be, which is part of the impact of the novel. Again, this connects to Janneke’s strength and her character growth. Everything in the novel connects which is part of what makes it a good read. The writing, as persuasive as it is regarding characterization does falter a bit when it comes to the pace of the novel. There are times when the novel drags just a little too much, where the scenes that are less important take too long to resolve themselves and progress forward. The pacing is the biggest issue of the novel because while Janneke’s journey is impactful, the outer conflict of the plot, take a little too long to move forward and along.
Anonymous 7 months ago
alyssama121 More than 1 year ago
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* This is easily one of my favorite reads of last year. Barbieri has created a stunning dark fantasy that has me waiting in thrall for the sequel. I can’t get enough of this world! Identity is the key theme throughout White Stag. This book explores the nature of gender roles, of humanity, of what it takes to make choices so you can survive vs. choices so you can live with yourself. I think this is a great young adult book, because this is something that I definitely struggled with as a teenager, and while Janneke’s story has a more fantastical element to it, it’s so relatable to have to figure out just who exactly you are and who want to be all the while coming up against preconceptions of the world that you’ve created in your mind and have the reality of it shattered as you learn more about how life works. Fantasy worldbuilding aside (which I thought was also amazing), this gets at the heart of growing up and becoming your own person. The beginning was a bit slow for me, but about a quarter of the way in, it picked up and I was absolutely hooked. I love the mythology that is woven through this story; it’s different than other books I’ve read–a lot darker and a lot more dangerous. I love that the atmosphere is created right away so that the reader is taken to a dangerous, dark place, and the more we stay with the characters on their hunt, the more we slowly learn about the goblin world and its creatures. I also really loved the characters. They’re a lot of fun to read about, and there’s a nice, slow development with all of them that makes this story incredibly satisfying to read. I almost wish the world weren’t quite so violent so some of them could have stuck around for longer, but I’m sure there will be more to get to know in the sequel. Janneke’s relationship with Soren is intriguing because it’s complicated and vague and has such an interesting tension so it because of the way they’re “supposed” to act with each other and because of Janneke’s hesitance to find anything good about the goblin world. Basically, I can’t say enough good things about this and I can’t wait for the sequel. CW: Rape, Murder, Violence
DragonNimbus More than 1 year ago
White Stag was a fun and exciting novel. Kara Barbieri has crafted a unique universe inhabiting the far north . She borrows from traditional Norse mythology and creates some of her own. Janneke has been living with goblins for the last 100 years - ever since her Village was burned and her family killed. by the evil Lydian. Janneke's advantage was that she was raised a boy, born the last of 7 daughters. In Norse tradition she would be the male heir and thus was taught to hunt and fight and survive. She was captured and tortured by Lydian then traded to his nephew, Soren, with whom she's been living as a slave/partner. They have an odd relationship and the novel opens on their bantering on the way to pay tribute to the Erlking. At the ceremony, Janneke runs into Lydian and wounds him again with an iron nail she scavenged from the ruins of her village. The fighting causes distraction enough for the Erlking to be assassinated and the White Stag to go on the run. Who ever kills the stag becomes the next Erlking and rules the Permafrost. These aren't Halloween goblins, or those from Tolkein = they are tall, muscular and often very attractive. Janneke finds herself drawn to Soren as he begins to treat her more as an equal . Throughout the hunt she uncovers more about her past and comes to forgive herself for surviving the tragedy. There's some romance involved, lots of magic and many creatures from Norse mythology. The story originated on Wattpad. I''m privileged to read an ARC as it transitions into a full-fledged novel. I enjoyed every page and can't wait for the next in the series.
DragonNimbus More than 1 year ago
White Stag was a fun and exciting novel. Kara Barbieri has crafted a unique universe inhabiting the far north . She borrows from traditional Norse mythology and creates some of her own. Janneke has been living with goblins for the last 100 years - ever since her Village was burned and her family killed. by the evil Lydian. Janneke's advantage was that she was raised a boy, born the last of 7 daughters. In Norse tradition she would be the male heir and thus was taught to hunt and fight and survive. She was captured and tortured by Lydian then traded to his nephew, Soren, with whom she's been living as a slave/partner. They have an odd relationship and the novel opens on their bantering on the way to pay tribute to the Erlking. At the ceremony, Janneke runs into Lydian and wounds him again with an iron nail she scavenged from the ruins of her village. The fighting causes distraction enough for the Erlking to be assassinated and the White Stag to go on the run. Who ever kills the stag becomes the next Erlking and rules the Permafrost. These aren't Halloween goblins, or those from Tolkein = they are tall, muscular and often very attractive. Janneke finds herself drawn to Soren as he begins to treat her more as an equal . Throughout the hunt she uncovers more about her past and comes to forgive herself for surviving the tragedy. There's some romance involved, lots of magic and many creatures from Norse mythology. The story originated on Wattpad. I''m privileged to read an ARC as it transitions into a full-fledged novel. I enjoyed every page and can't wait for the next in the series.
JillJemmett More than 1 year ago
This story was a little slow to start, but once I got into it, I flew through it. I found the goblins to be very unusual creatures in this book. I always think of them as ugly little creatures, but they were more human-like and beautiful in this story. They were more like how elves and vampires are usually described. The hunt was very exciting in the story. The goblins must compete in the hunt to kill the white stag, making the one who kills it the next Goblin King. There are two main competitors, who are the two most powerful goblins. Janneke and Soren had to battle some other strange creatures throughout the hunt. I loved the ending, which had a little twist that I suspected was going to happen. I can’t wait to see what happens in the rest of the series! I received a copy of this book from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantasy is probably my favorite book genre , so this was right up my alley. A story about a young girl who is taken from her home by a goblin, Lydian. He is very cruel to Janneke. Eventually, he gives her to his nephew, Soren. The story revolves around these three major characters as well as some minor but important other characters. A story filled with a lot of action and adventure, and a bit of romance. My first goblin story and I really enjoyed it. Looking forward to future books by this author!
reececo331 More than 1 year ago
White Stag (Permafrost, #1) by Kara Barbieri I am astounded by the depth and breath of this dark and mythology infused story. Like The Silmarillion by J R R Tolkien, this book looks into the ancient past and blends it with the future. The epic Hunt of goblins for who is their Erlking (ruler), the cold divide between man and mythology is transversed by a child born on the border of two worlds. It is amazing to see the story and the ideas grow throughout this dark and tortured story. The reader is bound to the darkness with the child, as she survives after her entire family is destroyed by an inclusion of Goblin raids. Janneka was enslaved and tortured by her captor, when given nearly broken to Soren. For a hundred years she scrapes by has his Thrall, thought to be his playmate and toy, but her wounded body haunts her as she struggles to survive. When the Erlking dies in a battle of will, The Hunt begins, and the tests abound. How will Janneka survive? Does she use the opportunity to escape to the human world? Or will she become what she despises?
taramichelle More than 1 year ago
After hearing how popular White Stag was on Wattpad, I was intrigued by the book (and the Goblin King references). This was a relatively fast read that felt somewhat episodic. That being said, it was an overall enjoyable read with some intriguing characters and unique worldbuilding. It definitely surprised me a few times by subverting my expectations. The mashup between Norse folklore and the Goblin King mythology was interesting but I thought the two could have been melded together a bit better. The bones of the story were also good. However, I thought that the execution could have been a bit more polished. I did love the inner conflict within Janneke, particularly as it related to her feeling torn between two worlds. I also thought that her emotional growth throughout the book was good, particularly toward the end. Overall, The White Stag was a quick, fun read. I’d recommend if you’re looking for a YA fantasy! *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Verkruissen More than 1 year ago
White Stag by Kara Barbieri is one of the best books I have read this year. I was a little apprehensive due to the mixed reviews I read on Goodreads but I am so glad I read it. It was incredible. The world building was amazing, the characters were complex and interesting and I seriously could not put it down. The story is about a young girl named Janneke who was the sole survivor of her village being attacked by goblins. She was taken captive by the sadistic goblin Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren. As Soren's thrall (the state of being in someone's power or having great power over someone), she cannot leave the Permafrost, the world where they live. She has been there for nearly 100 years. Soren is much kinder than his uncle and has very un-goblin like traits such as sarcasm that he is trying to learn from Janneke and a sense of humor, sometimes. Their relationship takes a dramatic turn when he invites her to accompany him on The Hunt. The Hunt is a contest of who can capture and kill a magic white stag which will make that person king of the goblin world. She becomes even more conflicted when he tells her that having survived there for so long she will eventually become goblin. Overall I was absolutely enchanted with this story. Within the first few pages I was already hooked. There is some flashbacks to her time with Lydian that are quite graphic but I feel it helps develop Janneke's character and shows us her state of mind and how it works after living so long among these creatures. Thank you NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this fantastic book. I cannot wait for the next book in the series!
DeborahJRoss More than 1 year ago
I was done with Western European pseudo-Celtic fantasy a long time ago, so I welcomed this Norse-based setting. Instead of dangerous/intoxicating elves/fae/fairies, we have goblins. These are not the hunched-over, hook-nosed second-class orcs from Middle Earth or fairy tales; these guys are seriously bad news. Their outer forms can be just as supernally beautiful as those of Lothlorien elves but the goblins are as blood-thirsty and contentious as it comes, quickly transforming into their SuperPredator forms. In short, they’re extremely not-nice characters, they live in the Permafrost where time and physics operate differently, and every once in a while, they slaughter their king, take off after the white stag that is the king’s spiritual guide, kill it on the border with the human world, and the whole murderous shebang cycles through again. Enter human heroine Janneke, raised in a village near the Permafrost border, trained from childhood as a hunter and tracker (and preferring the masculine form of her name rather than the feminine Janneka). Enslaved by the goblins who burned her village, she’s been subjected to a century of brutality. When, finally, she’s discarded as an insulting gift to her master’s nephew, she’s near death and not about to trust any goblin. At all. Ever. All of this is prelude to a love story. So how do you recover from a century of near-fatal abuse? Volumes and volumes have been written about recovery from sexual assault, but that is not the focus of this story. It’s about opening your heart after a very long time of surviving the most unspeakable and constant physical abuse in an environment where there is no safety. Anywhere. The core of that journey is the shift from incredible-toughness-survival-at-all-costs to recognizing the humanity in another person (even if that person isn’t, strictly speaking, human). At first, Soren – Janneke’s new goblin-master – seems to her no different from her former abuser or any of the other vicious denizens of the Permafrost. Gradually, however, she begins to see him as an individual, with his smirks and his oddnesses. From there comes the recognition that he is capable of a range of emotions, not just rage. And that he consistently and quietly takes actions to make her life more bearable. Love, as opposed to infatuation, grows by small steps. We all of us learn trust as we take tiny risks that pay off in mutual respect. Intimacy follows the hundreds of daily kindnesses that teach us we are not only cherished, we are safe with our partner. Even though White Stag is a fantasy, the lover is a goblin, and magic warps every aspect of Janneke’s life, the same principles hold true. Barbieri hasn’t taken the easy way out with instant falling into one another’s arms and all is rainbows and sunsets. The length of the book gives time and scope for the slow unfolding of hearts, complete with missteps and spats and unbeatable action. Verdict: superior world-building, difficult emotional issues presented with clarity and unflinching courage, skillfully managed tension, and an emotionally resonant ending. Highly recommended. The usual disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book, but no one bribed me to say anything about it. Although, come to think of it, chocolates might have been nice.
Aphill More than 1 year ago
Goblins, an epic journey, a world of eternal winter AND a hate to love story? Sign me up! I loved this adventure into the world of permafrost, survival and strength. Watching Jenneke's will to endure propel her through countless obstacles and a changing way of life was exciting, exhilarating and at times heart breaking, but totally worth it. I loved the endearing supporting characters and enjoyed learning the true sides of Soren. If you like books filled with European folklore (with a focus on characters not usually taking the starring role) and stories about what truly guides one heart and actions, then this is the perfect book for you. Barbieri drew me in with her debut, and I will absolutely be looking for the sequel when it comes out! *** A big thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***
jwills0829 More than 1 year ago
Recieved an earc from Netgalley to make an review. Trigger warning: sexual abuse, kidnapping, violence I enjoy this book and looking forward to reading the second book in the series. The reason why I have given it 4 stars because I would have like to have more of an introduction in the beginning about the Goblin world that Janneke was taken too. But overall the book kept my attention and I was genuinely surprised on the ending of the book which was not the way I thought it would end. Also enjoy the relationship between Janneke and Soren. The development and the history between them was written well.
Ambivert_words More than 1 year ago
The perfect blend of hunger games and game of thrones. Just wow. I loved this book so much. The writing was somewhat immature. But the plot and the way ir was carried were marvelous. Recommended to fantasy lovers.
TeresaReviews More than 1 year ago
A huge thank you to NetGalley, Kara Barbieri, and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. With the description given about the book, the one thing I didn't really expect was all the Norse mythology. It's the only thing that kept taking me out of this lavishly constructed world because the fantasy world building in this novel feels like it should be a world of it's own making. But if there is Norse mythology, that means its in some version of an Earthern world, which I just wasn't feeling. Aside from that aspect, this was a pretty darn good book that blew me away. You don't see a whole lot of young adult books about goblins, which is one of the more unique factors of this novel. And romance. Goblin romance? Yeah... Janneke is a girl raised as a son because she only ever had sisters. But she becomes a brutally treated thrall (slave) to a goblin and his warriors who completely decimate and destroy her village, burning everyone and everything to the ground except her. Janneke would rather be dead, though. With the way Lydian rapes her and carves out her flesh with his goblin claws, what kind of life would the rest of eternity be as such?  Not soon enough, she is passed on to Soren, Lydian's nephew, as a thrall. Of course, Lydian hopes for the worst to come to Janneke, but Soren proves to be a more than fitful leader, and something along the lines of love sprouts between him and Janneke. The leader of the realm of goblins, the Permafrost, is called the Erlking. A great white stag holds all the ruler's power, and when the stag deems the ruler no longer worthy of said power, it leaves the ruler for dead, and a great Hunt follows in which goblins trail the stag and kill each other to become the new Erlking. There are a number of fantastical creatures within the world of the Permafrost, such as draugr's (did I spell that right?) and lindworms, other goblins, great wolves, and even svartelves (not sure if I spelled that right either), to name a few. The writing style was easy to follow and the book is written in Janneke's perspective, making the read intriguing and fast-moving. This is a book I would buy myself or highly recommend to certain fantasy or young adult genre lovers. When I walked into Barnes and Noble on its release date (just passing through, totally not buying a bunch of books), the cover of White Stag utterly astounded me. The dust jacked is absolutely gorgeous and has a great feel to it, and the book itself just looks multitudes more beautiful in person than in an image. Once again, a book I would buy for myself, as well as highly recommend to others. P.S. This book had a very nice, wholesome feel to it in which it could potentially stand alone (if it weren't for the "Epilogue") and I love the ending for the characters. But on Goodreads, it says "Permafrost, #1" in parentheses. There's going to be more?! Yes please, I am definitely interested in continuing this series!
marongm8 More than 1 year ago
White Stag immediately reminded me of both C.S. Lewis's Chronicle of Narnia and Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials of the White Stag I've World Type of field. Everyone can learn and be inspired by Janneke's tenacity, strength and motivation being the only line survivor of her family destined as the heir of her family's legacy. However, it was a little intense when Janneke gets captured and gets classified as a "monster." Overall though however, this book was very enticing and such an enjoyment to read. That is why we give this book 4 stars.
AngRI More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC copy via Netgalley, the following is my honest (and uncompensated) review. My Review: . It has taken me a couple of days to gather my thoughts on this book. I was really intrigued by the synopsis. The book kicks off following Janneke after she has already been in the Permafrost Goblin realm for 100 years, which I really appreciated that it is clear that it has take a long time to progress to the current events and it isn't as sudden as it seems. I really enjoyed the back and forth between Janneke & Soren, as well as the awkwardness due to the human/goblin differences. Their relationship does border on stockholm-ish but I had no problem with it. I enjoyed the variety of influences from mythology and fairy tales as well. I also enjoyed the play with right versus wrong, good versus evil, the lines are definitely blurred and reformed a few times throughout the story. It was a really engrossing read and entertaining, until the last couple of chapters. Then things got overly complex, like she tried to use a lot of symbolism and metaphors that just weren't necessary and didn't match the tone of the rest of the story. That ending was a big disappointment for me and being that it is the end, it doesn't leave a great last impression. Note: I did read an ARC and I am hoping possibly the ending has been altered in the finish copy. My Rating: I really struggled to come up with a rating for this one because I really did enjoy it right up to the end. It is amazing how an ending can really sway your entire view of a book. I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
AFCTL More than 1 year ago
We received an advanced copy of 'White Stag' via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I was enthralled from the first chapter! I loved to read about Janneke and Soren racing through the Permafrost to get Soren on the new Erlking throne! The writing style was so easy to read and extremely fast-paced. This absolutely forbade me from putting the book down even for a second! I found that I did struggle at some point with the fast-moving pace, but was absolutely delighted to find out that White Stag was also featured on Wattpad! I was slightly disappointed as there were a few points where I wasn't quite sure what was going on but after rereading a paragraph, I was right back into it! Be warned that this book is not for the light-hearted, as there are many references to rape, PTSD, abuse and other dark themes. If you are strong hearted, and don't mind a bit of gore, than this book is certainly something to look into!
ShesGoingBookCrazy More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication. Content Warning: Slavery, Violence/Gore, Rape, Profanity What a delightful debut novel this was! Encounters with goblins, dragons, deities, and other magical beings leaves the reader filled with strong sentiments of otherworldliness! My first reaction upon finishing WHITE STAG was: I cannot wait to read what happens next! I definitely experienced some book hangover. The ending provides such an unusual twist in the protagonist’s journey and I am eager to know now how her new-found...situation...will pan out. Janneka, more often referred to as Janneke, is no stranger to the Hall of Monsters. Having lived amongst terrifying goblins for one hundred years has given her an insight unlike any other. When she was seventeen, Janneka’s town was attacked by goblins. As the only survivor, she was taken across the magical border separating human and creature--into the Permafrost. Janneke’s upbringing luckily aided her misfortune. Having been born into a family with only girls, she assumed the role of the “son” and was raised as such in order to protect and provide for the family. The burden of her family’s demise all those years ago weighs heavily upon her conscience, as she was the only one spared. Spared is a relative term. For she was found by the evil goblin lord Lydian, who made it his duty to miserably humiliate and assault Janneka for years. More for his amusement than anything, Janneka suffered greatly--a pain quite tangible when she recalls her memories of the past. As the years pass, Janekka’s ability to survive in the Permafrost poses a challenge. Through this, she is forced to face truths about herself, and who she is to become. No matter which path she decides, there is ugliness, but also potential for beauty. Throughout this entire read, symbolism is intertwined with Janekka’s story. Meaning and deep introspection on one’s identity and self-worth poses more to unpack than words found on the page. The balance of good vs evil, man vs. monster, power vs. submission, and freedom vs. captivity are all strongly represented throughout. Most are represented by the White Stag itself. At first, it seems that the White Stag is merely a symbol (which in lore, it has many symbols). However, as the plot thickens, this creature’s purpose poses to be much more important than anyone realizes. Both positions on an issue are always present, and working against one another. Janekka experiences this intimately as she wars with herself both internally and externally. I really appreciated how the author depicted Janekka’s turmoil, and made her feelings tangible to the reader. There is a romance. While I’m not big on romances, I found elements between these two characters really interesting due to their situation. I’m actually quite curious to see how this will play out in the coming sequel… Speaking of “relationships,” (this was NOT a relationship, mind you) Janekka (as I briefly mentioned earlier) goes through some very unpleasant things at the hand of Lydian, the antagonist. This is just another warning to keep this in mind when heading into this read, as it can be rather unpleasant. This is where I would say that this book is meant for mature readers, who can separate what is healthy and unhealthy in relationships. My Rating: ★★★★½
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
White Stag by Kara Barbieri Actual rating 3 stars White Stag was an interesting read. The book seemed to have elements of Beauty and the Beast but it defiantly was its own thing. I found the characters to be interesting and unique. With all that being said I had a couple of issues with the novel. The plot of this novel was interesting. I have never read a book with quite the same premise as this book. The backgrounds of each character influenced the story and made for an interesting read. I especially enjoyed Janneke's story and history. I really think that her history added dimension to this novel. As for the overall plot it was interesting. The idea that goblins kill each other for power and fight amongst themselves in order to achieve supreme dominance. I am not sure that this book is for younger children and teens because of its content and its betrayal of some pretty heavy topics. The characters in this book were fascinating. To be honest every single character was interesting in their own right. Kara Barbieri did a fantastic job of creating tortured and haunted characters. There is nothing I would change when it comes to the characters in her book. My issues with the book were as follows. I found that all throughout the novel I wanted to know more about Janneke's and Soren's relationship during her earlier years of captivity. I also wanted to understand more about the transformation that certain humans go through when they begin morphing into one of the "monsters." My final issue was the presence of all the angst and longing. I know that this was intentional but I personally didn't like it. Overall I enjoyed this novel. I would definitely recommend it to all of my friends. Like I said earlier I would not recommend this for younger children simply do to the content of the book.
Candace-LoveyDoveyBooks More than 1 year ago
The first novel in the Permafrost series is dark and enticing. Kara Barbieri's debut immediately throws you into the heart of the story as it follows Janneke, a human thrall in a world dominated by goblins and other creatures. The Goblin King's death is the beginning of the hunt for the next. Janneke joins the hunt with her master, Soren, and embarks on a journey she has been avoiding for decades. If you enjoyed Wintersong you'll enjoy White Stag. It's filled with more action, but the heroine in the story has complex thoughts and challenges that she struggles to overcome. Even with the dark nature of the story I still found moments in the story that made me laugh and feel like I could have been reading a contemporary fantasy. I definitely recommend this story for upper YA and mature readers due to the violence and content of Janneke's past. There were some parts of the novel that even made me cringe because it was just too much. It's been a long while since I've read a fantasy adventure like White Stag. Every challenge Janneke came across revealed a part of her character and a bit of her story that explained her role in the Permafrost. Kara Barbieri's writing style makes it so easy to understand the characters and their motivations. I went into the story expecting it to play out a certain way, but eventually I just sat back and enjoyed how it actually played out. By the end I just wanted to skip forward to the release of the next novel to see what's next for Soren and Janneke! *ARC provided in consideration for review*
courtofbingereading More than 1 year ago
White Stag completely took me by surprise. It’s a dark, brutal, fantasy novel that explores what it means to be a monster. It also delves into how you can only move forward if you accept and let go of your past. White Stag follows Janneke, our main character, as she navigates her way through the Permafrost, the land of the goblins. Janneke’s village was burned to the ground over 100 years ago by goblins, and she is the sole survivor. After the goblins discovered her existence amidst the rubble, they kidnapped her and brought her to their land. When the story starts Janneke has been in the Permafrost for 100 years yet she still looks 17 years old. We soon learn that there are only a few potential fates for humans in the Permafrost. Humans can die in the Permafrost. They can be released upon the death of their captor. Or they can change. Humans with certain skills and traits along with the ability to biologically adapt to the Permafrost can become changelings. In other words, they become goblins. Janneke seems to be on the path to becoming a changeling, but she grapples with this fact throughout the book. She grew up hearing goblins are monsters; if she turns into one then she will be a monster too. But, Soren, the lord she serves, tries to explain to her that everyone has the potential to be a monster no matter their species. Now, the event this whole novel circles around is known as The Hunt. The Hunt is the most important event for the goblins. You see, whoever catches and kills the White Stag will become the next Erlking. Only the most powerful and worthy goblin is able to kill the stag. As you can probably guess, The Hunt is brutal. The weaker goblins seek alliances with the powerful ones which tend to end in bloodshed the closer they get to the stag. Only one can kill the stag. Only one can become the next Erlking. Alliances can only last so long. Janneke is hunting with Soren and a few other goblins. Soren is the only goblin Janneke sees as a friend--though she loathes admitting that fact. Throughout this journey, Janneke goes through a lot. She faces the ghosts of her past while also coming to grips with who she is and who she wants to be. Janneke’s story is so incredibly raw and real. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this book. The pacing is phenomenal. The world-building is great. I could picture this icy land easily. This story is unique and different from any other book I have read recently. While this story is dark and can be brutal at times, it also has its lighthearted moments. The banter between Soren and Janneke is written so incredibly well. I adore their relationship. Soren has my heart. I definitely recommend this book Trigger warnings for rape, abuse, mutilation, and torture. None of these were described too graphically, but they were mentioned multiple times.
thegeekishbrunette More than 1 year ago
White Stag is about a seventeen-year-old girl named Janneke who has been stuck in the permafrost after tragic events. The permafrost is ruled by goblins, but they aren’t your average goblins. There are power struggles, dark pasts, family feuds, and even some Nordic mythology. I like how she took goblins and tried to create them as something nice and enticing. I also enjoyed Janneke questioning her feelings towards Soren and not just jumping into a romance like we see in most plots. Although I liked a couple parts of the book it wasn’t enough as the book fell flat in many areas. One of my concerns with this book is Janneke’s past. I just couldn’t get over the rape. I am sure it was added to show how a certain character treated her but it just sat with me wrong and it was a large part of the story. Another issue I had was how quickly we were thrown into this new world without any context. There was a lot going on and I’m not even sure I realized that they were goblins or that she was a human slave to them until the second or third chapter. I also am still not entirely sure how the power transfer worked or even what they gained from it and why it was important. I wish there would have been more world building and more character development to help make the plot make sense. Lastly, Janneke just wasn’t a character I felt connected too. She was a strong character but at times it felt she was too over powered especially during the fighting scenes. There were times she effortlessly killed someone who was older and I am sure more powerful than her. I wanted to love this book. I considered DNFing it but chose to continue in hopes that it would get better. I still think that the plot was a great idea but the way it was executed just wasn’t for me. eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley