The Hunt is over, but the War has just begun.
Against all odds, Janneke has survived the Hunt for the Stag–but all good things come with a cost. Lydian might be dead, but he took the Stag with him. Janneke now holds the mantle, while Soren, now her equal in every way, has become the new Erlking. Janneke’s powers as the new Stag has brought along haunting visions of a world thrown into chaos and the ghost of Lydian taunts her with the riddles he spoke of when he was alive.
When Janneke discovers the truth of Lydian and his madness, she’s forced to see her tormentor in a different light for the first time. The world they know is dying and Lydian may have been the only person with the key to saving it. (Goodreads)
Goblin King is a worthy sequel to White Stag. The book follows a very similar format of its predecessor, Goblin King includes a fair amount of action, but is ultimately an examination of emotion and healing. This book is much more character-driven than many other fantasy books. Still, it excels at integrating fantastical elements in a story that is ultimately the story of a young woman healing.
The plot of the book is considerably formulaic and is very reminiscent of the first book. The characters head out on a grand journey with high stakes, they get quite beaten up, but they ultimately pull through. The action is entertaining enough, but the story isn’t really about the sheer brutality of goblin-kind. Barbieri presents a fantastical book about healing from significant trauma, heavily inspired by her own struggles. For readers who’ve gone through similar struggles, there is a specific power in being able to see yourself reflected in a powerful character such as the protagonist Janneke.
The writing overall is very well done. There is evident growth in the authors writing since her first book, and this book, while not having quite the bite as the first, is the better written of the two. The plot is straightforward and well-paced, and the underlying message is just as evident.
For those who have read White Stag, and those who are fans of Norse Mythology, this is a worthwhile read. There is a handful of trigger warnings, so be sure to research that beforehand. As mentioned above, this book is heavily about healing and maybe an intensely emotional read for some.