Review - Berserker by Emmy Laybourne @EmmyLaybourne @FeiwelFriends @FierceReads

Berserker by Emmy Laybourne
Series: Berserker #1
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Publishing Group/Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Date Read: October 19, 2017
Length: 288 pages
Source: NetGalley
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.
My Review

This was an excellent book!  I was really quite surprised by just how much I ended up liking this one.  I try to go into books as blindly as possible so I didn't read the summary of this book too closely and as a result, I was really quite surprised by some of the turns the story ended up taking.  This was the kind of book that I found myself reaching anytime I had a moment to spare.  I am so glad that I took a chance on this gem of a book.

Hanne and her siblings posses a gift.  Or maybe a curse depending on how you look at it.  Hanne doesn't see it as a gift.  She is a Berserker which means that anytime someone she cares for is in danger she loses control to the Nytte and people die.   Hanne doesn't want to be someone who kills so she really struggles with this gift.  She must eventually flee Norway with her siblings after one of her murderous rages.

I really liked the characters in this story.  Hanne was so easy to like and her struggle with her different sides felt authentic.  Her elder brother, Stieg, has his own gift which proves to be rather useful to the family.  Stieg is a really even tempered and intelligent man.  Knut also has a gift and is the quietest of the siblings but he possessed a certain wisdom.  Sissel was the youngest sibling and the most difficult of the group.  I am not sure that I really cared for her character but I think she added a needed element to the group.

When I started reading this book, I had no idea that the story would soon shift to the American frontier.  The change in setting was really well done.  I could completely envision the small towns and wilderness that this group encountered.   I think the combination of the frontier setting and the Norse mythology worked perfectly in this little story and I found it to be really exciting.  There were a few sections of the book that were a bit more violent that I would have expected but it worked well with the story.

I would highly recommend this book to others.  This book is listed as being the first in a series but this story stands on its own.  This was the first book written by Emmy Laybourne that I have had the chance to read but I am eager to read more of her work including future installments in this series.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group - Feiwel & Friends via NetGalley.
About the Author

Emmy Laybourne, author of Sweet and the Monument 14 trilogy, is a writer and actress. She lives in Upstate New York with her husband, two kids, and a flock of six nifty chickens.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


  1. Sounds like a great new series! I also like to dive into a book, and not read the summary :)

  2. I knew the author sounded familiar. I read Monument 14 several year ago & liked it. This sounds interesting. I like the Norse mythology aspect.

  3. Monument 14 was a decent book though I never finished the series. I've always been fascinated by the don't see that in enough books. My one issue would be that I'm not a fan of these western style settings so I have doubts if I'd like it.

  4. Sounds interesting :) Nice take on bersekers

  5. Oh, oh, oh... it definitely sounds like my kind of book. I'm fascinated with the mythology married to the American frontier. Great review, Carole!

  6. I love the combination of the Berserkers and the American West. This sounds like a fun read. The fact that the characters are easy to like moves this up my TBR.

  7. This is the very first time I've heard of a Berserker being in a book. First time I saw one on a show was Teen Wolf and thought it would be interesting to read about one in a book too.

  8. I didn't know about this one but it looks good there! I'm glad you such a good time with the characters!

  9. This one is on my to be read list, too. It looks so good. I think the premise for this one is so unique.

    Great review!

  10. How intriguing! I love that you wanted to pick this one up every chance you got. I am glad you liked this one. It sounds very good.

  11. I saw cowboy in the synopsis and was confused. I like the different settings. You really have me curious to try this.

  12. This sounds awesome. I am intrigued by the blending of Norse mythology and the frontier setting.

  13. I've seen this book around on one other blog, but that's all I have known about it. It sounds like going in not knowing too much really worked out here. I think the mix of the setting and mythology will be very interesting. Definitely unlike anything I have read before.


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