Blog Tour and Book Review: White Stag by Kara Barbieri

Blog Tour and Book Review: White Stag by Kara Barbieri

"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

White Stag

By Kara Barbieri

Published by Wednesday Books

On Sale January 8, 2019

Hardcover | $18.99

ISBN: 9781250149589| Ebook ISBN: 9781250149596


For more information or to set up an interview with the author, contact:

Meghan Harrington at or 646-307-5556 or

Sarah Bonamino at or 646-307-5566

White Stag

In an exciting collaboration with Wattpad, an online community for readers and writers to publish and enjoy each other’s work, Wednesday Books will be publishing WHITE STAG (Wednesday Books; January 8, 2019) by Kara Barbieri. Based in a dark and violent world, Janneke’s journey in the Permafrost is addicting and immersive. This expansive fantasy already has a strong online following. Thousands of fans immediately jumped on board when Barbieri first posted her story to Wattpad. Using their own Story DNA, Wattpad was able to see that readers were spending more time reading WHITE STAG than any of their other top fantasy works. Today, the story has over one million reads with Wednesday Books publishing a revised and expanded version in print.

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 is burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—is taken captive by the malicious goblin 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 even as she tries to fight her growing attraction to him. 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.

Based in a wintery world with a frosty cover, it’s the perfect book to get into for the coming winter season. As the launch of a captivating new series, WHITE STAG is all a reader could want in a fantasy—brave characters, vivid worlds, and smoldering romance. Barbieri says, “[Janneke’s] journey of forgiving herself, letting go, and finding strength inside her own self and her own scars mirrors mine.” Her characters struggle with issues that are close to her own heart making the reader connect with the characters in unexpected ways.

Kara Barbieri

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.

Author’s Twitter handle

Link to a buy-this-book page:

White Stag (Permafrost, #1)White Stag by Kara Barbieri
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

See my full review of this book on my blog along with others at:

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

BLURB: An exhilarating story of one girl’s journey to finding her place in a world of monsters.
Cursed with pain upon doing any action that did not in someway 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.

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.
You are balance and chaos. You are light and dark. It churns inside you, forcing you to choose…

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. These awful experiences really help to reveal the goblins’ true nature, which cements the difficulty of the romance that does happen to flourish.

I found the overall premise to be a refreshing mix on lore, with some contemplative takeaways. The only issues I had with this book, were:
1) It could be pretty graphic and unsettling.
2) The second half felt rather rushed.
I really wanted more information of the Permafrost itself, and the pace to slow down so I could enjoy more. Besides that, I’m really looking forward to the sequel, GOBLIN KING.

Vulgarity: Moderate. I came across 48 words total in the ARC provided to me.
Sexual content: Moderate. There are a few scenes which focus on the topic more, but they are not overly graphic or descriptive. It leans more towards the New Adult genre or is better suited for mature Young Adult readers.
Violence: Quite a bit.

My Rating: ★★★★½

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I am the author behind Foals, Fiction & Filigree. An all-encompassing blog about horses, books, and my art.

5 thoughts on “Blog Tour and Book Review: White Stag by Kara Barbieri

  1. The first thing I thought when I saw this cover was “Wait, did Leigh Bardugo write this?!” It just reminds me of her covers! Anyway, looks like an interesting read.

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