Sunday, September 10, 2017

Review: Berserker by Emmy Laybourne

Berserker #1
by Emmy Laybourne
Feiwel & Friends
YA Fantasy/Mythology
288 pages

OCTOBER 10th, 2017!!!

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.


Twisting Norse mythology with the Wild West, this is a unique read with interesting twists and turn.

Four siblings struggle with the 'talents' they've inherited thanks to an ancient blessing from the gods. When Hanne's talent accidentally leaves three men murdered in their barn, the four of them panic and take off across the ocean to the far shores of America. There, they encounter a whole new adventure and that with a hunter on their tails.

The first chapter opens with a raw scene, which lays a perfect stage for the rest of the tale. The four siblings are introduced in a northern Europe, which isn't exactly a romantic place but dirty, difficult and a search for simple pleasures. The scenes hit home, making the situation of the siblings pull at the heart-strings as their daily struggle unfolds. By the time the murders hit, Hanne's position is pretty clear and the reader can't help but sympathize with her. The emotional stage is set. As to the background, this gets a bit muddled in the first chapters. The explanations behind the sibling's state dribbles in bit by bit and lacks a solid thread, making the first part of the book a slightly more difficult read. But it is quick paced, the characters come to life and their situation is very easy to get caught up in.

The second half of the book, when they get to America, loosens up and flows better. The difference between the two worlds is tangible and well done. The characters dive into development as they discover not only how to live in the new country but also how to live with themselves. An added romance gives heart and a nice touch, despite slight awkwardness at times.

Fans of mythology who are looking for something new will want to grab this one. It walks on the darker side but promises an engaging read with characters to root for until the very end.

No comments: