- Age Range: 12 - 18 years
- Grade Level: 7 and up
- Series: Permafrost (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Wednesday Books (January 8, 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250149584
- ISBN-13: 978-1250149589
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 78 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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White Stag: A Novel (Permafrost) Hardcover – January 8, 2019
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"Janneke’s epic journey to overcome past horrors and seize her rightful place in the world is packed with equally gripping action and emotion. Readers will flock to this compelling debut." - Booklist, Starred Review
"A promising debut from a gifted young writer!" - Anna Todd, New York Times bestselling author of the After series
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.
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I’m very thankful that the Author’s Note was the first part of this book. Janneke is a strong, willful and tough as nails character but she has a lot of trauma. It’s impirtant to know if you can read her trauma without striking at your own in harmful ways.
For me, this was an uncomfortable read. I’m particular the first 80 pages had me deeply struggling with who Janneke’s love interest is. I was not comfortable with the power dynamics between them.
Those power dynamics shift. Without spoilers, I’ll promise you that. But. This relationship was deeply upsetting to me for the first 1/3 of the book and never really shed that initial feeling.
Okay romance aside, where WHITE STAG wins is in its exploration of the monster and the monstrous. Here, everything is grey. And looking at what makes us monstrous and what makes a monster human is compelling.
If you’re reading for romance and can’t handle power imbalances, then WHITE STAG is not for you. If you can handle this and want to explore the monstrous, then give WHITE STAG a try.
Barbieri wrote this as a teenager and while it’s been revised since, I’m excited to see where her talent develops in future projects.
It's very evident that this book was born from trauma and as a reader, you can feel the acceptance and metamorphosing of the 'protagonist' radiating stronger through each chapter. With that being said, there was little positive relief to the heavy, black shroud this story provided. Not exactly a happy ending and it didn't really make sense to me either. I believe this is supposed to be a series but I'm not sure I will read the book following this.
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.