Published by Feiwel & Friends on October 10, 2017
Series: Berserker #1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, mythology
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher
Are Hanne's powers a gift from the old Norse gods, or a curse?
Her brother Stieg swears their powers are a gift from the old gods, but Hanne Hemstad knows she is truly cursed. It's not Stieg's fault that their father is dead, their mother has left, and their brother Knut has been accused of a crime he didn't commit.
No, the fault lies with Hanne and her inability to control her murderous "gift"--she is a Berserker. When someone she loves is threatened, she flies into a killing state. The siblings must leave Norway for the American frontier or risk being brought to justice.
Aided by a young cowboy who agrees to be their guide, Hanne and her siblings use their powers to survive the perilous trail, where blizzards, wild animals, and vicious bounty hunters await.
Will they be able to reach their uncle, the one man Hanne believes may be able to teach her how to control her drive to kill? With Berserker, Emmy Laybourne, the author of Monument 14, presents her vision of an American west studded with Viking glory.
Berserker is a young adult norse fantasy novel by Emmy Laybourne. Emmy Laybourne is an author with such diverse skills. She has written apocalyptic stories, fantasy stories, monster stories and I have to say I am a huge fan of hers. My favorite book of hers is Sweet, but Berserker was a good read as well. The description of Berserker immediately caught my attention. I love anything having to do with mythology, and norse mythology is super interesting to me. Plus, the tag line is killer- “Are Hanne’s powers a gift from the old Norse gods, or a curse?”. I was instantly intrigued. What are her gifts?
Berserker is told in multiple points of views. Hanne is our main character, but we also get to meet her siblings, and Owen, a cowboy from the west. Which brings me to the thing that I enjoyed most about this book, and what I am excited to see explored more in upcoming novels. I loved the dual setting. Berserker takes place both on the western frontier as well as in Norway. I liked all of the characters and I found the story to be interesting, but the book felt a little dense and slow at times. It wasn’t a book I read in a single setting. I put it down and picked it back a good number of times, but overall I was glad I finished it because it was so unlike anything I have read in a while.
As far as characters go, I really felt for Hanne. Her gift is so violent, and the writing and scenes certainly reflect that. It was really interesting to see her inner dialogue and concerns regarding her power. But I really loved Owen and Knut, her younger brother most of all. I found them to add something extra to the story. I think I am most interested in learning more about the various Norse powers in the next book. I love all of that and I can’t wait to see what direction Emmy is going to take this series in.
Overall, Berserker was a good read. Though it did feel slow at times, I think the next book has the potential to really pick up. I think Berserker would be great for fans of novels that don’t shy away from graphic fighting scenes.
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