I wasn’t expecting to dislike this book as much as I did, but here we are! I think a big part of my dislike of this book comes from the narrator but I wasn’t that thrilled with the plot, dialogue, or any of the characters either.
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.
It’s hard to find a place to start because there are so many things I didn’t like about this book. I have to go list form because anything else will just be a long, rambling rant.
- THE NARRATOR. I say this in all caps because I really, really didn’t like the narrator. I don’t know what accent she was trying to do for Soren but it wasn’t working. I think perhaps if she had been narrating a book that I liked she might have been better, but instead she got stuck narrating a stupid book which made her sound more annoying to me.
- The characters.
- Soren: How are we supposed to find Soren attractive? He’s described as having waist-length white hair (a look only Legolas can pull off, ahem), blue-grey skin, and lilac eyes. This dude sounds terrifying, honestly. I feel like he also lacked so much personality. He was only there to be a love interest for an unlikeable character.
- Janneke: Janneke might be one of the least likeable characters I’ve had to read about in a long time. You’re telling me she’s over 100 years old and she’s still this naive and childish? Reading her thoughts is exhausting as they are so repetitive and pointless. She’s one of those characters that will arrive at a conclusion and then spend the rest of the book repeatedly questioning her decision and ending up at the same conclusion. It made for a boring read and a very shallow character.
- The plot. I understood that the characters were on a hunt for the white stag to assume the throne of the Permafrost, but parts of this definitely dragged on. The plot might be the most OK thing in this book for me, though. I’m thankful that we had plenty of action scenes to get us through the hunt.
- The worldbuilding. What worldbuilding? We got random, convenient explanations of the way the Permafrost works as different scenes popped up. I didn’t understand any of the history of the Permafrost or the way the world outside the Permafrost works. I didn’t understand the politics of the Permafrost or how it’s society was structured. And I’m being serious when I say everything was way too convenient. Someone gets infected with an incurable poison? NBD, let’s just be the first people to find this loophole in 60 seconds and cure them like it’s nothing. It was so annoying.
- Miscellaneous things I disliked.
- This might just be because I have a terrible memory but how can Janneke be over 100 years old but still remember details about her life before the Permafrost? I can hardly remember what I had for breakfast this morning much less incredibly specific events from years ago.
- Her abuse/rape from her time with Lydian seemed to be used more as a plot device than anything else. It never really seemed to impact Janneke until the author felt like bringing it up to compare Soren to Lydian to make Soren seem better or other random situations. It just left a bad taste in my mouth.
- The ending didn’t leave me wanting more. I know this seems obvious considering I didn’t like the book, but I truly can’t see where the author might take book two. I know it’s already been written, but a second book just feels unnecessary. The only thing that indicates a need for a possible book two is at the very end. It felt like nothing was planted during the actual book to get the ball rolling for a second book.
I could probably go on about more things I disliked about this book, but what’s the point? By now it’s pretty obvious that I didn’t like this book and going on and on just seems too harsh. I was conned by an interesting cover and summary and I’m feeling a bit cheated.
I personally wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. If you’re looking for a good goblin/troll book check out Stolen Songbird instead (please don’t come at me, I know they’re different but the trolls in Stolen Songbird are a very similar concept to the goblins in White Stag).
Have you read White Stag? What did you think of it?