October 10, 2017

Of Family and Better Natures: Macky Reads Berserker

Berserker book cover
It is taking every effort not to flail and run around going berserk (yes, I went there) as I write this review. So, I shall start with what the blurb on the back of the book says instead - that the author, Emmy Laybourne, presents her vision of an American West studded with Viking glory.

And oh, how glorious indeed is this tale! Hanne is a Berserker. Nice young Norwegian girl, burdened by the weight of the bloodlust and killing prowess the gift in her bloodline affords her. Because her gift gets away from her, she and her siblings are forced to flee to America and find their way to the one place that might give her any hope of controlling her gifts.

This book is a family piece, centered around a family with divine gifts. It’s a coming of age tale as well, as we follow Hanne as she journeys into the unknown, the safety of her family her greatest treasure and the very thing that helps trigger her berserker nature into motion. Needless to say, the book has a lot of heart, mostly because this is a family with very well-developed personalities. They are simple people but are by no means two-dimensional so it was very easy to care for them.

And the lore? Grade A stuff. My foray into Norse myths was mostly high level and wide. Major pantheon, a smattering of customs… concepts of heaven and “hel”… that kind of thing. But here, Emmy Laybourne takes Viking lore and myth to a whole new level by introducing to us the full range of “godly gifts” Odin had bestowed on his Viking Raiders to make them the terrible force they have been known to be. I kind of don’t want to spoil it, but some light Googling has led me to think that she totally embellished on Viking lore and made up her own. Can’t comment any further without spoiling, but part of the experience of reading this book is uncovering the mystery of what Hanne and her siblings are.

As for the story, it really does feel like a western with all the glory of Viking power. I enjoyed it so much that I feel I can’t be objective enough (this soon after reading it, at least) to really nitpick but that was never the goal anyways.

For a unique story about a unique family with a terrible power they need to contend with, pick up a copy of Berserker. It’s beautifully written, very well made and in my honest (and probably un-objective) opinion, very easily to love. Easily one of my top 15 of 2017.

Berserker by Emmy Laybourne | Series: Berserker #1
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Source: ARC received during BEA 2017 (Thanks!)


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