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.
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