white stag

3.5 stars

This was a pretty good first book in a new YA fantasy series.

Janneke is a 17 year old human living on the edge of a frozen part of land called the Permafrost. Her village is attacked by goblins and she is captured and taken prisoner by a vicious goblin named Lydian. After he nearly kills her, he sends her to work for his nephew Loren. A hundred years pass as Janneke learns how to survive her new existence. As Janneke plots her escape, she is in denial that her body is slowly taking on goblin characteristics, or that she is developing feelings for Soren.

When the Goblin King dies, it starts an ancient hunt for the next king. Soren takes Janneke on the hunt with him in the hopes that it will bring them closer together and make her finally accept her place in the Permafrost. Janneke has other plans, however, and sees the hunt as her chance to finally escape and return to her life among the humans. Neither anticipates the perils they will face in the hunt, or what consequences will result

The book definitely has some issues, but the story was interesting and I’m hopeful that the books will get better as the series progresses. Despite the fact that Janneke is a total badass, she is very angsty and unsure of herself. It’s understandable that she is damaged because of the torture she endured, but after 100 years of being safe, trained to fight, and treated respectfully and kindly by Soren, it doesn’t ring true. I liked her relationship with Soren, although again, it seems like it would have developed further after 100 years.

One of the biggest problems is the lack of world-building. I understand that it is tedious and difficult and can be a bit boring to read, but it’s necessary for the reader to better understand the book. The story starts in the middle, and we begin to learn about the characters in flashbacks. Some times this works, but it doesn’t here.

There are several things that could have been explained if there was proper world-building. For example, I still have no idea why the Permafrost is a frozen tundra, but across an invisible line, the land is warm and fertile. I don’t understand the goblin society or how it functions. There are a lot of other creatures in the Permafrost, but we don’t know how they relate to each other. The goblins have power and can absorb the powers of those they kill, but we aren’t told what the power is or how it works. I also found the Norse referrals odd and out of place. Just because an idea sounds cool, doesn’t mean it should be randomly inserted in a book. I hope we get some of these answers in the next book. I look forward to reading it.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.