Author: Emmy Laybourne
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
When I read the synopsis to Berserker, I knew I was reading this novel; when I started reading it and found out it was based in an older era, that I’m not usually interested in, I thought well that’s the end of that. I’m glad to say that I was sorely mistaken. That’s definitely a good thing because I was left wanting more of this world and to see more characters who have the “Nytte” gene. That was compelled me to keep going on and really made this story unique.
It’s such an interesting concept that involves Odin, the ancient blood gift Nytte (as mentioned above), Vikings, the berserker gene that makes Hanne have a violent, warrior side to her persona. It’s one of the gifts that moves down lineages (especially if both parents are descendants), berserker being the most gruesome of them all. There are others, more for creating/crafting or for venturing purposes, but you’ll have to read it yourself to hear more about those.
I’m taken from viewing a form of pig slaughter Hanne’s father has perfected by taking advantage of her gift, to an almost ruined special meal prepared for her oldest brother who’s leaving home, to the main thing that sets the rest of this story in motion and it is an absolute doozy. There is a never-ending amount of close calls and dangerously motivated characters set on using the Nytte abilities for their own selfish purposes.
More than all of that, is where it leads Hanne and her siblings, what befalls them after using their abilities on a constant basis (because yes, it’s seem to be more of a curse than an actual gift). There is so much that goes on in this book that doesn’t disappoint, and even though it wasn’t in a setting I very much enjoy, everything pertaining to their Nytte gift and what they have to go through to reach their destination in this novel, makes that part only a minor issue in my rating of Berserker. Very much looking forward to the next book in the series.
***I received this copy from Feiwel & Friends via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.***