Feiwel & Friends
October 10, 2017
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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.
Emmy Laybourne's Berserker does a great job blending the story of a family immigrating to America in the 19th century. This was one of the first books I have read that featured any kind of Norse mythology and I liked that it wasn't so much about gods and goddesses but about what they might have given to people, to mortals.
How we are introduced to Hanne and learn of her 'gifts' was nicely done. We are able to see what she can do and to see her relationships with her family before we get the facts. I liked her being someone you probably already connected with before you learn how she can kill.
The danger the siblings face and how it was compounded by Hanne's gifts added tension to the read ad made it more exciting. It was not so simple as them leaving Norway, finding somewhere to stat a new life and that being that. As they tried to adjust to a new land and life, come to terms with what had happened and who they were, we really did learn a lot about the characters.
The bleaker things became, the more they had to use their abilities but also the more of a threat using those abilities might pose. Berserker really does a fantastic job with its sibling relationships, with four young people coming to a brand new country and to a whole new life, and forcing its characters to deal with both seemingly magical abilities and very human emotions.
Emmy Laybourne's Monument 14 book and series were fun and fast paced, but her new novel delves more into the characters lives and emotions and feels a bit more. . . grown up, maybe. Berserker is a creative, sometimes tension filled read that expertly combines Norse mythology, ancient abilities and the human lives of those affect.
digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley