Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Young Adult / Historical / Fiction
A Norse teen and her family are forced to flee to the American West to escape the effects of an ancestral Viking curse in this jaw-dropping historical paranormal romance from the author of Monument 14.
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, by author Emmy Laybourne, is the first installment in the authors Berserker series. Set in 19th Century Norway, and the American West, Berserker actually alternatives chapters between 16-year old Hanne, and 18-year old Owen Bennett. This story has a Viking/Norse Mythology which centers on a Nytte ancient blood gift that has collected Hanne's family. Hanne is a berserker which means that she flies into a killing mode if someone that she loves is physically threatened and takes out anyone or anything that's a threat.
After Hanne's leaves 4 men dead, she and her siblings are forced to leave Norway behind for America. There they supposedly have an uncle who has made his home in a place called Wolf Creek. An uncle who is also a Berserker like Hanne. Except for the younger sister Sissel, each of the siblings (Steig, Knut) have unique gifts they consider to have come from Gods themselves. After being chased by those who collect Nytte like Hanne and her siblings, Hanne must trust in her powers that she abhors, and a boy who comes to their aid.
Meanwhile in Montana, Owen Bennett is a cowboy and the bastard son who gets zero respect from his father, or his brothers. He struggles to make enough money so that he can have a future with his dog named Daisy, who, by the way, is the absolute star of this story. Owen dreams of training cattle corralling dogs like Daisy, but after losing all of his money to stupidity, he encounters the Hanne's family who is obviously in some trouble. He agrees to be their guide to Wolf Creek, but weather, adversaries, and their own unique issues stand in the way of any sort of happy ending.
There is third character that the story focuses on. His name is Rolf Tjossen. Rolf is a Ketil investigator who searches for those who have amazing powers. He works for a Baron who apparently collects these individuals and helps them in his own way. But, there is something even more creepy there which I won't spoil. Rolf eventually makes his way to Montana where he encounters Hanne and her siblings. For Rolf, Hanne is the most remarkable find he has discovered because she is truly the only known female Berserker in existence.
Verdict: My favorite character has to be between Knut, who is adorably innocent and big as a house, and Owen because of all the challenges he faces throughout this story and previously to where the story picks up. My least favorite character is Sissel, and not just because she has no apparent abilities. She grates on your nerves and gets under your skin. She nags at Hanna instead of supporting what she is going through. I don't mean to write her off completely, and I do hope that she does end up with powers. This story could really have been a standalone, but apparently there are other things the author wishes to do with this series.