Berserker by Emmy Laybourne

Berserker

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...

Title:Berserker
Author:
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Berserker Reviews

  • Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    I was very excited to get to this book, because did you read the synopsis? Sounds amazing, right? And yay, it really was! I am quite a fan of historical fiction, and I think you probably need to at least like it to enjoy this book, because it definitely fits that genre. But there's a lot more to it, of course! So, let's get to it.

    I really didn'

    I was very excited to get to this book, because did you read the synopsis? Sounds amazing, right? And yay, it really was! I am quite a fan of historical fiction, and I think you probably need to at least like it to enjoy this book, because it definitely fits that genre. But there's a lot more to it, of course! So, let's get to it.

    I really didn't expect to go to some of the places that it did. It was pretty rough at times, but not unnecessarily so. What I mean is, the harshness was a great parallel to the world around the characters. It made the tension of the book at a constantly heightened state, and made the stakes feel 

    high.

    I loved that this group of siblings wanted to keep each other safe no matter what. Admittedly, they had a 

    of troubling relationship dynamics throughout the book, but that too seemed quite realistic, especially in the situation.

    Magic and powers can be 

    hit or miss for me. But in this case, I thought they worked well. The way they were integrated into the world worked for me, and I liked that it was something they tried to keep under wraps. It just felt, to me, as believable as magic can.

    While we didn't spend a ton of time in Norway, I was happy that we got a glimpse of it. And of course, the uncharted American west was awesome. Not only that, it worked well in the context of the story.

    There was only one real thing that was lacking a bit for me, and that was that

    that I would have liked. I mean, I cared about the outcome and their fates, but sometimes I just felt a bit distant from them.

    I'd literally read it this second if someone handed it to me!

    Historical fiction that is often quite dark, and includes elements of magic? Oh so much yes. Need the next book, because obviously.

    *Copy provided for review

  • Kristen Burns

    *I received a copy of this book from the publisher and JeanBookNerd. This has not influenced my review.*

    I was super excited for this book because I’d been craving some fantasy books set in the Old West, and I’m happy to say this Old West/Norse mythology mash-up did not disappoint.

    One of my favorite things about the book was how well the settings were portrayed, both Norway and the American Old West. The book was a little slow-paced, but in a good way because I found the settings an

    *I received a copy of this book from the publisher and JeanBookNerd. This has not influenced my review.*

    I was super excited for this book because I’d been craving some fantasy books set in the Old West, and I’m happy to say this Old West/Norse mythology mash-up did not disappoint.

    One of my favorite things about the book was how well the settings were portrayed, both Norway and the American Old West. The book was a little slow-paced, but in a good way because I found the settings and the struggles inherent to them to be so interesting, and the writing/tone of the book seemed to match them perfectly in a way that drew me in. And the author sure wasn’t afraid to get into the violence and grittiness at times when it suited the situation.

    The Norse/viking mythology was interesting as well. Some people have what’s called a Nytte, which is a special kind of power, but each Nytte has its own consequence (for example, Storm Rends go blind if they use their power too much, and Berserkers starve to death if they don’t eat enough after using their ability). Hanne is a Berserker, which means she goes into killing trances to protect the ones she loves. Her father could build amazing ships. Her younger brother has incredible strength. Her older brother can control wind/weather to an extent. And seeing how they all used their powers, as well as how they felt about them, was neat.

    Speaking of Hanne’s siblings, that was another thing I really liked—the family relationships. I liked how the siblings all worked together, how their individual personalities meshed but also sometimes clashed, and most importantly how they loved and tried to protect each other.

    Individually, main characters Hanne and Owen were both very serious, but I could understand why they were that way—I probably would be too if I had the tough lives they had—and they were still characters I liked and felt sympathy for. As for the rest of the characters, some of them were a little stereotypical (like Knut, who was big and strong but sweet and not very bright), but others were complex (like Stieg, who was sweet and kind and tried really hard to balance being a good big brother and taking care of his family with pursuing his own dreams). And Daisy, Owen’s dog, was a sweetheart!

    There was also a tiny bit of romance between Hanne and Owen, and while I would’ve preferred they not use the word ‘love’ so quickly since it didn’t seem like they knew each other well enough for that, their interest in each other was cute in a shy kind of way. I look forward to seeing more of their interactions with each other since it seems that relationship will probably be more prominent in the next book.

    So overall, I thought the Old West setting and the viking/Norse mythology aspects were both interesting, I thought the family relationships were sweet, and I really enjoyed this book!

    Anyone who likes young adult, sweet family relationships, the Old West, and viking/Norse mythology.

  • Misty

    4.5 Very quick, really enjoyed this one, review to come closer to the release.

  • Lilly (Lair Of Books)

    3.75/5 Stars review to come on Lair Of Books (Link is in the bio)

    Berserker wasn’t at all what I was expecting & for a minute there I wondered aloud what exactly I was reading? the answer took me by surprise & intrigued the hell out of me enough for this frightful bookworm to read through the bloody scenes. I can only describe Berserker as Norse Mythology meets the American Frontier with hints of

    3.75/5 Stars review to come on Lair Of Books (Link is in the bio)

    Berserker wasn’t at all what I was expecting & for a minute there I wondered aloud what exactly I was reading? the answer took me by surprise & intrigued the hell out of me enough for this frightful bookworm to read through the bloody scenes. I can only describe Berserker as Norse Mythology meets the American Frontier with hints of the classic novel Of Mice and Men & guess what bookworms?!?! IT WORKS!!! part of the reason I think that it did is because Laybourne has created her own lore in this world instead of using everything we know about Norse Mythology. The opening scene really sets the tone for this short read, bloody and raw. Our MC Hanne & her siblings (with the exception of the youngest) all have been gifted/cursed with special abilities from the Viking Gods. It is believed that the Viking God Odin gifted three of his favorite Kings with special abilities known as The Nytte. This gift/curse doesn’t come without its consequences, there is a big price to pay as a result of using their ability. The odds of inheriting The Nytte are greater if both parents are descended from these kings & such is the case for our MC & her siblings. They don’t know the names of each ability or even if they quite believe in the origin of these abilities but they’ve learned to use them to make a living. Hanne is a Berserker which is the only gift that is focused on taking life whenever someone she loves in danger. While in Norway, her father has her using her “gift” to slaughter pigs for local farmers (detailed in the book) because her technique leads to better quality meat. A incident on the farm triggers Hanne’s Berserker abilities ending in tragedy & the need to go on the run. While on the run they manage to catch the interest of a man who has made it his mission to find Nyttes daughters & sons with a keen interest in their abilities. Although this mans intentions are not readily made known, Hanne doesn’t trust him & will keep her siblings running to put as much distance as possible between the law & this stranger.

    The MC aka the Berserker & sort of the matriarch of the family. She loves her family fiercely & her abilities have sharpened her senses to the point where if any danger is even headed their way she is ON IT! Hanne doesn’t see The Nytte as a gift but rather a curse she can’t control & when it strikes it leaves her mortified at the end results. When I picture Hanne there is only one Goddess that comes to mind…Lagertha !

    not sure if he’s the oldest or second oldest to Hanne but either way he is more of the patriarch of this family. Stieg is a intellectual with a passion for knowledge & conversation. He knows more than one language & will never pass up the opportunity to teach. Stieg also has a ability that he uses sparingly whenever in dire straights. What I liked about Stieg is that he wasn’t made out to be the stereotypical bookworm, he’s just as much down to have fun as he is to hit the books. Also, his ability is pretty bad a** ;)

    Knut reminded me most of Lennie from Of Mice and Men which meant that I was already on Over protective mode upon meeting him. Tender hearted standing at 6’2, Knut also carries The Nytte & it is tied to his physical strength. There’s no way you won’t love him when you meet him :)

    my least favorite of the siblings, she is the youngest and most spoiled. Sissel is all about comfort and finding a good match for marriage, in other words being taken care of. Sissel is described as frail in physical appearance & very likely to have had The Nytte skipped her. This being book 1 in the series, I can’t help but wonder if Laybourne has special plans with this sibling…

    The cowboy the siblings pay to safely guide them to a uncle who could possibly help Hanne control her Berserker abilities. He is actually one of my favorite characters in this book, its just him and his dog Daisy until he meets the siblings. Owen loves Daisy to pieces & has trained her to help herd cattle with dreams of one day training pups on a farm to do the same. He minds his business & lives a simple life until chaos is introduced and he has a decision to make…

    I managed to fly through my reading of Berseker because of my general interest in Norse Mythology & the ease with which Laybourne used the well known mythos as a jumping board. This is a VERY bloody read & had some cringe worthy passages that surprisingly engrossed me. Why the 3.75 rating? well for starters, this is still a good rating in my book & translates into a 4 star rating on Goodreads. The siblings were for the most part traveling in this book trying to reach their uncle to help Hanne & I enjoyed that adventure very much. However, my only complaint is how neatly the ending was presented compared to how bloody, chaotic, and raw Berserker was for the most part. Berserker could also easily be viewed as a stand-alone which really left me thinking where the series would take Hanne and her siblings. I’m still curious & have every intention on continuing on to read the next book. It may very well be that in the sequel the siblings find a way to reverse or at least stop the consequences of their abilities…So, I do have questions bookworms which means I’ll be returning to this world when the next book is releases :)

  • Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)

    This review can also be found at

    .

    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 bo

    This review can also be found at

    .

    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 really liked this book. It was very different than I had imagined it would be which was wonderful. I loved the characters and the premise of the story.

  •  ⇝LEAH⇜

    : Macmillan Children's Publishing Group Feiwel & Friends

    : Norway & Montana

    :

    : Macmillan Children's Publishing Group Feiwel & Friends

    : Norway & Montana

    :

    First off, I freaking love this cover, it's what initially drew me in, and the synopsis had me thinking, wow, that's sounds amazing…Norway mixed with some early American old west…I totally clicked on the READ NOW button on Netgalley. I'm not at all disappointed that I did, either…overall I really liked Berserker…it's just so different from anything else I've been reading lately, but I do have a few issues.

    Berserker is very violent and it doesn't sugarcoat any of it, either. Plot wise it's a very ambitious undertaking and I'm not sure the Author pulls it off completely. I would have liked more character development and I wished the romance was a little more developed too. The ending scenes were a little over-the-top supernaturally, and I didn't fully commit to feeling them.

    I would like too…just to see where it goes from here. It really could have ended with this book, though.

  • Michelle

    **You can see this full review and more at Book Briefs:

    **

    3.5/5

    Berserker is a young adult norse fantasy novel by Emmy Laybourne. Emmy Laybourne is an author with such diverse skills. She has written apocalyptic stories, fantasy stories, monster stories and I have to say I am a huge fan of hers. My favorite book of hers is Sweet, but Berserker was a good read as well. The description of Berserker immediately caught my attention. I love anything having to do with mythology, a

    **You can see this full review and more at Book Briefs:

    **

    3.5/5

    Berserker is a young adult norse fantasy novel by Emmy Laybourne. Emmy Laybourne is an author with such diverse skills. She has written apocalyptic stories, fantasy stories, monster stories and I have to say I am a huge fan of hers. My favorite book of hers is Sweet, but Berserker was a good read as well. The description of Berserker immediately caught my attention. I love anything having to do with mythology, and norse mythology is super interesting to me. Plus, the tag line is killer- "Are Hanne's powers a gift from the old Norse gods, or a curse?". I was instantly intrigued. What are her gifts?

    Berserker is told in multiple points of views. Hanne is our main character, but we also get to meet her siblings, and Owen, a cowboy from the west. Which brings me to the thing that I enjoyed most about this book, and what I am excited to see explored more in upcoming novels. I loved the dual setting. Berserker takes place both on the western frontier as well as in Norway. I liked all of the characters and I found the story to be interesting, but the book felt a little dense and slow at times. It wasn't a book I read in a single setting. I put it down and picked it back a good number of times, but overall I was glad I finished it because it was so unlike anything I have read in a while.

    As far as characters go, I really felt for Hanne. Her gift is so violent, and the writing and scenes certainly reflect that. It was really interesting to see her inner dialogue and concerns regarding her power. But I really loved Owen and Knut, her younger brother most of all. I found them to add something extra to the story. I think I am most interested in learning more about the various Norse powers in the next book. I love all of that and I can't wait to see what direction Emmy is going to take this series in.

    Overall, Berserker was a good read. Though it did feel slow at times, I think the next book has the potential to really pick up. I think Berserker would be great for fans of novels that don't shy away from graphic fighting scenes. 

  • Joshua Gabriel (Ever Bookish Josh)

    .

    . —Aud

    Filled with intriguing elements of Norse mythology and American history,

    is one of the most unique (and surprising) books I've ever read. I would've finished it sooner had I not been in a terrible reading slump caused by Korean dramas and K-pop music. xD

    is basically a heartwarming story

    .

    . —Aud

    Filled with intriguing elements of Norse mythology and American history,

    is one of the most unique (and surprising) books I've ever read. I would've finished it sooner had I not been in a terrible reading slump caused by Korean dramas and K-pop music. xD

    is basically a heartwarming story about four teenagers with powers bestowed by the old Norse gods. Hanne, the female lead, is a Berserker, which means that she flies into a killing state whenever her loved ones are threatened. Unable to control her murderous abilities, Hanne is eventually forced to leave her homeland (Norway) in search for her uncle, who is supposedly the only person who can help her. With the help of a handsome cowboy named Owen, Hanne and her siblings forge their way through 19th century America. Little do they know that many life-threatening experiences await them in such a great country.

    For me, the best thing about

    was its emphasis on the special bond between siblings. In spite of their many differences (that caused a number of entertaining arguments), Hanne, Stieg, Knut, and Sissel did everything in their power to keep each other safe. Furthermore, each of them had a distinct personality that made me want to meet them in real life. Hanne was the ever protective sister who loved to cook. Stieg was a bookworm who was the voice of reason in the midst of chaos. Knut was a gentle giant who could be unexpectedly profound. As for Sissel, she was a brat who could disclose an ugly truth without flinching. I really enjoyed getting to know these unique and fascinating characters.

    Another virtue of

    was its application of Norse mythology. Greek/Roman mythology has been a popular theme in literature (and other forms of media) for years; you must be living in a cave if you aren't familiar with the stories of Zeus, Poseidon, and other iconic deities. With that in mind, this book was like a breath of fresh air because it deviated from the status quo. Although I was already quite familiar with Norse mythology, it was fun to catch a glimpse of Odin, Freya, and the Vikings (who were apparently good at poetry).

    I will probably always remember

    because of its shockingly detailed fighting scenes. Hanne was a force to be reckoned with when her powers were triggered; she could kill/decapitate people without batting an eye. The same could be said about the villain, who never failed to creep me out. I didn't exactly enjoy the violence in this book, but I liked that the author didn't make a sugarcoated YA novel.

    The last virtue of

    was its historical content. Hanne and her siblings were only a few of the Europeans who migrated to America with the goal of having a "better" life. It could be said that they were victims of the American dream. As a Filipino, I found this to be very entertaining. It is an undeniable fact that many people in "Third World" Asia still believe that complete happiness can be found in America. Gleaning upon all of the trials the protagonists faced in Montana, I couldn't help but scoff at the latter belief. If anything,

    reminded me that our happiness is determined by our choices, not by our current location in the world.

    In all honesty, the only disappointing thing about this book was its similarity to Disney's

    . The quote at the beginning of my review can probably speak for itself. This trope made the ending predictable and quite...er, corny. Since the majority of the book was cool and badass, I expected the resolution to be the same.

    Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun reading

    , and I'm confident that many people will enjoy it, too. If you're looking for a fun, educational, and action-packed novel, you should definitely add it to your TBR shelf.

  • karen

    review to come, but i'm so glad i won this one!

    ********************************************

    Congratulations karen!

    You are one of our Giveaways lucky winners! You will soon receive a free copy of Berserker (Berserker #1) in the mail. Please allow a few weeks for shipping.

    wooooHOOOOOO!!!!

    1) i love that my lowercase k was honored.

    2) i have entered a number of giveaways for this book and i am so glad that persistence pays off!

    MY LOVE FOR YOU IS LIKE A TRUCK!

  • Emmy Laybourne

    I'm so excited for my fans here on Goodreads to discover my new book, Berserker. While Berserker has a very different setting from my Monument 14 trilogy, both series share the same fast pace and breathless, visceral action sequences.

    I've invented a new kind of Norse mythology for Berserker -- the teens in the book have a gift called the Nytte and they are a new type of Viking superhero.

    The Nytte is an ancient blood-gift given hundreds of years ago to three Viking kings by the god Odin. The Kin

    I'm so excited for my fans here on Goodreads to discover my new book, Berserker. While Berserker has a very different setting from my Monument 14 trilogy, both series share the same fast pace and breathless, visceral action sequences.

    I've invented a new kind of Norse mythology for Berserker -- the teens in the book have a gift called the Nytte and they are a new type of Viking superhero.

    The Nytte is an ancient blood-gift given hundreds of years ago to three Viking kings by the god Odin. The Kings would have children with one of several gifts designed to make unstoppable raiding parties. A child with the Nytte in his or her blood might be a Storm-Rend, able to create gales to speed the boats across the sea; or a Ransacker, able to find hidden treasure; or be a Berserker, driven to kill to protect their kinsmen.

    In addition to the new mythology, there is also a very strong love story at the heart of this book. When the teens with the Nytte are forced to flee Norway, they come to America to try to find a relative they believe can help them control their powers. On the way, they hire a down-on-his-luck cowboy to be their guide. The love story between the main character and this cowboy unfolds in a sweet and tender way, in the midst of a great deal of danger and action.

    I believe this is a book that will thrill fans of the Monument 14 trilogy, as well as earn me some new readers -- people who love fantasy, Vikings and stories with heart. I'm especially excited for fans of Kristin Cashore, Leigh Bardugo and Maggie Stiefvater to pick up Berserker.

    Please read it and let me know what you think!

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