'Goblin King; A Permafrost Novel' by Kara Barbieri is the follow-up to 'White Stag,' a story that had intrigued me from the get-go.
Janneke is our main character. A human girl who was a thrall, one of the slaves of the previous Erlking, that has become the new Stag.. a magical, liminal creature.. meant to maintain the balance of their world. With the previous Erlking defeated, if not quite dead.. her partner Soren rules the kingdom. The two are meant to connect with each other through the mantle of the Stag, making them a natural team as well as a romantic couple.
Unfortunately, all is not well. Lydian, the previous Erlking, isn't really gone. In fact, he's lingering in Janneke's mind and driving her a little nuts. Not unusual I suppose, since he was a madman himself.
In attempting to deal with his presence, however, Janneke discovers some truly disturbing truths about his madness and the actions he paid for with his life. While she can't forgive him for the ways he chose to go about things, she begins to at least understand his intentions. Their world is in jeopardy and in his own twisted ways, he was trying to protect it.
If I'm being entirely honest, between the cover and the synopsis for both books.. the story came across as something dark and ethereal. I never got to reading the series debut, but I'm good about picking up partway into a series, adapting quickly to the story, and going from there. So, it certainly wasn't confusion that kept me from connecting with this one.
I've said it before and I have to say it again, in hindsight.. I've discovered this author is from Wattpad and if I'd known that before I decided to read the book, I wouldn't have done so at all. It's not that I have anything against Wattpad writers in general, but rather that every Wattpad author I've read has been a huge disappointment. They're consistently underdeveloped as writers and in this case at least, the shoe fits.
This story could have been fantastic. The elements are interesting, from the Stag which is pretty much just the 'Spirit of the Forest' from Princess Mononoke, if less purely benevolent.. to the Goblin patriarchy, there's a lot to work with here. The problem it runs into is lack of real writing skill. Plot points are relatively few and far between, as pages and pages pass by filled with fluff you don't need or care to read. Dialogue is bland and unimpassioned, characters are cartoonish stereotypes, and the language overall is just severely lacking.
While the basic 'structure' of a novel is there.. and I do mean the very basic.. minimum expectations, it reads like someone with 6th grade vocabulary and complexity wrote the book.. and it failed to invest me on any level. Sadly, I will be avoiding this author in the future.
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