Title: Berserker

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Hanne’s family has the old Viking gifts, the Nytte, but to Hanne, they’re more of a curse. Especially hers. Being a Berserker means that any time someone she loves is in danger, she becomes a killer. And when that finally manifests the way she always feared it would, the siblings must flee their home village. In America, they hope to start over. But America isn’t far enough to flee something within their very blood. . .

Owen is a bastard son hoping to make a new life for himself as a cowboy. But a vengeful trail boss undermines him, and he soon finds himself desperate for work. Meeting Hanne and her family allows him a chance to earn enough to survive the winter, even though he’s sure they’re running away from something . . .

This was interesting, though it mostly played out how I expected from reading the jacket summary. Owen’s early bad decision to drink made me far less sympathetic towards him as a character (he’s never seen anyone get drunk?), so after that happened I mostly just wanted to read Hanne’s parts of the story.

The early American frontier is supposed to be about striking out to unexplored lands and making your own destiny. Hanne is hoping for that, as well as to connect with her uncle, who is also a Berserker. She desperately wants to learn how NOT to kill people when her Nytte takes over. Unfortunately, other people know about her, and some have plans for her gift regardless of what she thinks about it.

I did like the climax of the book. The final fight promised a lot of hope for Hanne, and also for her siblings. It could work either as a standalone or a lead to a future story, too. Also I am always happy when annoying characters get what’s coming to them.

Either way, this was a good read. It’s not my favorite novel about berserkers by a long shot, but it offers an interesting magic system that could definitely expand more if there are any future books. I rate this book Recommended.

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