Monday, October 16, 2017

Blog Tour: Berserker by Emmy Laybourne (Review + Giveaway)

(Check out the full schedule of the Blog Tour HERE)

Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date:October 10, 2017
Pages:288 (Hardcover)
Published By:  Feiwel & Friends
Website:Emmy Laybourne

Berserker on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received from the publisher via Jean Book Nerd tours in exchange for my honest review

Where to get:


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.

All the gifts besides mine make something... A Berserker kills. A Berserker takes life and crushes it out.
The Nytte was an ancient blood-gift, a pagan, Viking gift, from Odin to his three kings, to be carried in their lineage. A child with the Nytte on both sides of his or her family might manifest one of six eerie powers at puberty - or might receive no Nytte at all.

 "Look at her," Sissel said. "She's an animal."
     Hanne is a Nytteson, which means she possess a special and unique gift (the Nytte) that was bestowed upon her ancestors by the Norse Gods in times of glorious Vikings. Her siblings - Knut, Sissel, and Stieg - also have their own special gifts (all except for young Sissel, who is yet to have her gift manifest itself), though they're very different from Hanne's, for Hanne is a Berserker and her gift means she will fight to death for those she loves. And what's worse, is that Hanne has no control over her ability. She turns into an unflinching, blood-thirsty killer the moment someone she loves is threatened. And she doesn't stop until the threat is obliterated.

     When one night Hanne's father is attacked by three man, she goes Berserker on the assailants, murdering them all. Her father dies from a gun shot, and the siblings have to flee their homeland to save their own lives. They escape to America, where they are determined to seek out their uncle. Only getting to him isn't going to be an easy task, and even with the help of a young cowboy, they'll face deathly dangers all throughout their journey. 

     To put it simply, Berserker is  a clash of Viking glory with Wild, Wild West; and it's a breath-taking, exhilarating, heart-pounding combination of these two worlds. I have read Emmy Laybourne's Monument 14 series and enjoyed it a lot, but I must say Berserker tops it in many ways. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book - the adventure, the tension, the neck-breaking action, but also the human element at the center of it all. Hanne's struggles to accept and understand her gift/curse definitely made this story so much more interesting to follow. It was also fascinating to read about Hanne's relationships with her siblings. I love that, though they're so different from each other, when things got rough, they looked out for one another. 

      As for the Norse mythology aspects, I must say I really enjoyed this part of the story. It gave this fantasy novel a very interesting, unique flavor. At the same time, we didn't get too deep into the historical backdrop, so the story flow wasn't bogged down with too many detailed descriptions.

     The main characters - Hanne, Owen and Rolf (the guy hunting Hanne and her simblings) - were developed very well, especially Hanne. And while she didn't strike me as a particularly likeable character, she was certainly a realistically drawn one, with layers upon layers of character building. Shy, distanced, struggling to come to terms with her ability, weighed down by guilt and border-line self-hate, she often came across as difficult and off-putting (or, well, whiny), but all that was completely understandable, considering what she had to deal with in her life. I did see some character growth, though, and I feel that Hanne definitely shows a lot of promise. I can't wait to find out what will happen to her and Owen (and their brand new relationship) in the next installments. 

     Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a YA fantasy adventure that packs a strong punch and doesn't shy away from violence and exploring deeper subject (like self-acceptance and grief). Especially for those of you who also enjoy a nicely developed historical backdrop. 
Berserker is a high-octane, action-packed story from the beginning to the end. I am looking forward to reading the second book! 

About the Author:

Emmy Laybourne is a novelist, screenwriter and former character actress. She is the author of the upcoming release BERSERKER ("You will love Emmy Laybourne's vision of an American west studded with Viking glory." -, as well as the MONUMENT 14 trilogy ("Frighteningly real… riveting" - NYT Book Review, Editor’s Choice) and the novel SWEET (“A gripping action-adventure survival story” – VOYA, rated Perfect Ten).

Before her life as a novelist, Emmy performed original comedy on Comedy Central, MTV and VH1; and acted in the movies "Superstar," "The In-Laws" and "Nancy Drew," among others. Emmy lives outside New York City with her husband, two kids and a flock of 9 nifty chickens.
Photo credit: Kit Laybourne.


--Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

4 Winners will receive a Copy of BERSERKER by Emmy Laybourne.

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