Thanks to NetGalley and Feiwel & Friends for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: October 10th, 2017
Synopsis: Are Hanne’s powers a gift from the old Norse gods, or a curse?
Her brother Steig swears their powers are a gift from the old gods, but Hanne Hemstad knows that she is truly cursed. It’s not Steig’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 “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 the American west studded with Viking glory.
At under 300 pages, Berserker is a fairly short book, but it’s impressive how much detail the author packs into it.
I did think the first few chapters were a little slow and somewhat confusing. There’s a lot of information given about Hanne, her family and the Nytte, which are “gifts” given to from Norse gods to select families. But, once Hanne and her brothers arrive in America and meet up with Owen, the action picks up considerably.
I loved Hanne who in the beginning is full of guilt and self-loathing. It was pure pleasure watching her accept her Nytte and develop into a more self-confident young woman. I also enjoyed the relationship between the three siblings, which is complicated yet believable and relatable. The romance between Hanne and Owen is a little quick to commence, but their relationship is very sweet, and as they’re literally fated to be together, I wasn’t annoyed. I loved the way Emmy Laybourne alternated their POVs before seamlessly merging them about a third of the way through. Her writing style is really quite lovely.
The plot itself which combines Norse mythology with an American western is creative and unique, and makes this standout from all other mythology based books. There’s some incredible fight scenes which further moves the action along. The only other thing I found myself wishing for was a glossary or guide for the pronunciations of some of the Norse names and words. I’m pretty sure I completely mangled some of them.
Overall, I think Berserker is a very promising beginning to this new trilogy and I’m looking forward to Ransacker which will hopefully be out next year. I highly recommend this for teens and adults who love Norse mythology and are looking for something completely different.