Author: Emmy Laybourne
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)
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.
Berserker is a fast-paced journey towards hope and away from sorrow. It's a story of rage and death and fear, a story about a girl afraid to embrace the dangerous power that lives inside her. But to save her family, she'll have to harness that power.
Hanne is quiet, stoic. Strong. Protective of her family. She's also the holder of an ancient gift passed down from the god-king Odin through families, like her father and brothers are. Hanne is a Berserker, destined to fly into an unstoppable rage if any she cares about are threatened and will stop at nothing until those who wish harm are dead. But all she sees is a murderer, a monster. She wishes she'd never been given this gift. Until some drunk men appear, threatening her father, and Hanne's gift takes over once again. Now she and her siblings are on the run, tagging onto her brother Stieg's plan to leave Norway for America. But the gifts of families like Hanne's are desired by others, those who would seek to use them for their own purposes, and all siblings must be cautious for many reasons.
This is a bit of a short book but it does pack a punch. There's Hanne's inner struggles, her strained relationship with her sister Sissel, the culture shock and discoveries they make once the 4 siblings make land in America, and the inclusion of guide and cowboy Owen Bennett, a young man with a secret in his past and hope for the future. If he can only make a little money. I would certainly recommend this to readers looking for more standalone stories, those wanting something a little different in the late 1800's American West. Those wanting a contained story about a young woman who struggles so hard with what lurks inside of her, a young woman whose mind is at war with her instincts.
(I received an advance copy of this title from Raincoast Books.)