Review: Berserker by Emmy Laybourne

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Berserker by Emmy LaybourneBerserker by Emmy Laybourne
Pages: 288
Published by Feiwel & Friends on October 10th 2017
Series: Berserker #1
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Format: eARC
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.


As soon as I saw that Berserker was being promoted as Norse mythology meets western novel, I knew I had to read it. To my delight, it turned out exactly as promised and Emmy Laybourne did a fantastic job of weaving those two disparate genres together. Berserker was a surprisingly touching story that was full of adventure, family, and magic.

After Hanne murders some local villagers who were attacking her father due to her Berserker nature, the Hemstad siblings have to leave their hometown in Norway and follow their eldest brother to America in hopes of escaping prosecution. Owen, a young cowboy hiding secrets of his own, agrees to help them cross the treacherous frontier and get to their uncle’s house. While the plot was relatively slow and straight-forward, it was also interesting enough that I never got bored. The story unfolded naturally and I liked how the author took the time to fully explain the world and to develop the relationships between the characters. There were also a few plot twists toward the end that have me excited for future installments in this series.

I loved how Emmy Laybourne laid the foundations for her world. The Nyettes, the special powers that are bestowed upon some Norse families, are extremely powerful but come with a high price. I liked that there was a limit on the powers and that Hanne struggles to come to terms with hers. While this novel isn’t gory, the author does an excellent job of portrayed the violence that Hanne can unleash when not in control of her powers. Additionally, I loved how the family dynamic between Hanne and her siblings was explored, particularly in regard to their various powers. There’s also a tiny bit of romance that you’ll be rooting for because they’re so adorable together.

The relationships between the characters were the strongest part of this book for me and I loved seeing how each character developed over the course of their journey. I’m very intrigued by the premise of this series and will definitely be reading the sequel.┬áBerserker was an enjoyable read that I would recommend to fans of YA, Norse mythology, and westerns.


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