A scarred survivor must decide if she will be predator, prey, or something more.
Violently orphaned, then tortured, 17-year-old Janneke has spent a century in Permafrost as a goblin thrall. When the Erlking’s death sets off the Hunt for the white stag, Janneke accompanies her current master, Soren. Together, they must stop Lydian—Janneke’s abusive first captor and Soren’s maniacal uncle—prevent a war, decide Janneke’s humanity, and resolve their unusual relationship. Video game–like action sequences, obligatory fae political machinations, unnecessary mystical ordeals, random animal slaughter, and melodramatic brooding ensue. Suffering from chosen one syndrome—prophecies, magical birth, inexplicable uniqueness, and desirability—Janneke survives the Hunt through stubbornness, specialness, and a repeatedly mentioned but superficially discussed childhood of being raised as a male heir (she reserves the feminine form of her name, Janneka, for intimates). Russet-haired, green-eyed Janneke has dark skin and suggested Scandinavian origins, while Soren is white-haired, purple-eyed, and blue-gray skinned. Dazzling descriptions and morbid humor aside, debut author Barbieri eschews original dialogue and subtlety in favor of anachronisms, clichés, blunt moralizing, and insensitive treatment of sexual abuse.
Originally self-published online, this tale reads more as impassioned fanfiction than a fully realized, judiciously edited novel; best for existing fans. (Fantasy. 16-adult)