Brown Dog Book Review: “W” – White Stag

7EBA82E8-C452-48B9-A572-38FE273D0CB5“W” – White Stag by Kara Barbieri

Published: January 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Brown Dog Rating: Paw Prints Neutral Tones La Boutique Dei Colori_5Paw Prints Neutral Tones La Boutique Dei Colori_5Paw Prints Neutral Tones La Boutique Dei Colori_5 1/2

This Wattpad sensation and I failed to connect on a “deeper” level but I still enjoyed most of the journey.

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.


Alright. First things first. I failed to get a good picture of White Stag, mainly because I had an (obnoxious) library copy which wasn’t all that photogenic – but the cover is gorgeous. From the title font to the dark forest and ghostly stag imagery, a lot of the reason I picked up this book was due to the beautiful cover. No shame.

Also, a disclaimer: I have to remember I am an “almost-thirty-year-old” reading books meant for teens/late teens/early twenties. I also feel no shame about loving YA but have to keep it in the back of mind the level of maturity we’re talking in this genre.

Disclaimer aside, White Stag dealt with some pretty heavy elements: rape, eating disorders, sexual violence/sadism, death, PTSD – just to name a few. None of those elements bothered me in a way that turned me off from the book – instead, what sunk the Enjoyment-Battleship was the immature/childish dialogue which accompanied such heavy elements. There was “filler humor” – an attempt to keep things light (which is usually minimally necessary) and it all came off…flaky.

The love story was pretty predictable but, hey, I’m a sucker. I still enjoyed the heck out of it. It was nice to see goblins portrayed as these eerily beautiful, powerful monsters versus elves.

The underlying mythology of the white stag was probably my favorite part. The back-story was filled out nicely, explaining how each King came into power and why the stag was so important. Also, the way the stag storyline continues = LOVED that ending, surprisingly enough. This book definitely leads into another but I’m okay with that, even if I don’t finish the series. It ended softly. I love me a soft-ending.

The worldbuilding was pleasant in its simplicity. I’ve seen where other readers complained about there being little to no worldbuilding but I disagree. The world was very black and white: human vs. goblin, Permafrost vs. natural world. I liked that the border was stark. The aching way the MC described the Permafrost reminded me of how some see beauty in winter and some don’t.

Overall, not complaining about my “W” read. Wish I could’ve connected with it on a more adult level but, alas, that’s the downside of reading YA as an adult, I suppose. 


Other BDBR A-Z Challenge Posts:

Brown Dog Book Review: A to Z Challenge

Brown Dog Book Review: “S” – Skyward

3 Comments on “Brown Dog Book Review: “W” – White Stag

  1. I was one of those worldbuilding complainers haha. XD But I’m glad you liked it!! My main issue with it was the “I know what’s best for you” attitude that the love interest had, which kind of turned me off to the rest of the story. But that was definitely a personal taste thing.

    ALSO. How did your blog become even more beautiful while I was gone???? Sorcery!!!


    • Usually worldbuilding is a make-or-break for me but, for some reason, this was an exception. I liked the clean cut way she portrayed everything. But I totally get where you’re coming from! Really.

      I hadn’t really thought about Soren’s attitude in those terms. I just assumed it was the whole goblin thing. But now that you mention it, definitely. My complaint was the snarky comebacks and the “I’ll shove that stick up your ass” commentary. I just didn’t find it funny.

      ALSO. THANK YOU! I made it a goal in 2020 to dedicate a little more energy to F+F, so I’m trying. I appreciate you. So stinkin’ much. Glad you’re back from your hiatus, friend! ❤


  2. Pingback: Brown Dog Book Review :: January Wrap-Up – Faith + Fern

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