Publisher: Wednesday Books
Author: Kara Barbieri
Release: January 8th 2019
Warnings: Rape, Kidnapping, Animal Death
I received a copy of White Stag through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Okay, so I’m going to be upfront and honest with you here: I didn’t finish White Stag. I ended up DNF’ing it somewhere around the 50 percent mark. If you know me, then you know I’m usually very stubborn about finishing books. So it is very much not like me to refuse to finish one.
Perhaps it was the mood I was in, but I just couldn’t get into it. I wanted to; I absolutely loved the blurb and the original concept. It’s about a girl trapped by Goblins, living among them as a changeling. I love fae stories, and even more so when they interact with humans. But this one just didn’t ring true for me, if that makes sense.
I will say that the cover for White Stag is beautiful, and had the concept been closer to what I anticipated I think I would have really adored this novel.
Warnings: Janneke is captured and living amongst the Goblins in this novel. She’s not there by choice, having been kidnapped when she was younger. The goblins in this book use rape and torture as a way of punishing and showing dominance. While nothing like that happens first person during the novel (that I read at least, I can’t vouch for the second half) it does come up A LOT. There’s also a lot of hunting and animal death.
White Stag was an ambitious novel trying to show the life of a human girl as she gradually transitions into being a changeling. She grew up in a harsh environment, and while she hates everything about what she’s had to do to survive, she can’t bring herself to give up either.
I have two larger complaints about this novel, and if I’m being honest I think they’re the reasons I couldn’t finish it. The first had to be the treatment of Janneke’s character. And by that I mean; she went through hell. I get that, I really do. But it’s something that gets brought up every time they want us to feel bad for her. It felt cheap and honestly a bit disrespectful to the people who have gone through such things. They were clearly playing Janneke up as a victim to make us feel sympathy for her.
My other complaint has to do with the way the Goblins were described. From their description, they sounded a lot more like Seelie fae than goblins. The novel kept describing them as being beautiful and intelligent creatures, and that just didn’t mesh with any of my expectations. It’s like they mashed the beauty of other fae into the name of another one.
I did see some potential in the novel, so I am sad that I ended up giving it up. That’s the reason why this novel isn’t rated lower, despite its DNF status. I couldn’t bring myself to overlook the good parts of the novel, like some of the secondary characters, the social structure of the goblins, or Janneke’s pure determination and will to live.