Berserker, the latest novel from Emmy Laybourne, is set in the American West and features siblings with Viking superpowers. We have a first look at chapter one and the book’s cover.
Berserker is the first installment of a two-volume set of young adult historical fantasy set in 1883. If you like high-adrenaline action, gritty love stories and characters who go through hell and come back changed, you will love Emmy Laybourne’s vision of an American West studded with Viking glory.
In Berserker, Hanne is driven by an ancient Viking blood-gift to kill three men attacking her father, and she and her siblings flee Norway, headed to find family living on the American frontier. Aided by a young cowboy who agrees to be their guide as they travel across Montana in the early winter, Hanne and her siblings use their Viking superpowers 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?
Excerpt from Berserker by Emmy Laybourne
Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan, Fall 2017
Hanne stumbled behind her father and her brother.
“You’re slower than me, for heaven’s sake,” her father groused when she had caught up. “The next time we work, as soon as the door to the farmhouse closes, get the animal moving! What were you waiting for?”
“I’m sorry, Father,” she said.
“You want people to know what we are? To come hunt us out with pitchforks the way they did our ancestors?”
She must have scowled, or made an unpleasant face because her father stopped and pointed his walking stick at her.
“I didn’t make you a Berserker, girl,” he snarled. “It’s not my fault Odin ‘blessed’ our forefathers with the Nytte.”
Hanne did not like to speak of the Nytte at all, much less outside and so close to town. She nodded, keeping her head lowered. After a moment, her father resumed the slow walk home.
The Nytte was an ancient blood-gift, a pagan, Viking gift, from Odin to his three favorite 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….
What good was it now, to be one of the Nytteson? They were not Vikings. They were just commoners, trying to hide their differences and trying to earn a living.
Hanne looked back over her shoulder. She saw the silhouettes of her former schoolmates approaching near the top of the hill.
“Pity how that family’s gone to seed since their mother left,” Linnea might be saying to Oskar. “You’d think Hanne would be able to keep up with the laundry, at least.
I’d never be seen in a dress that dirty!”
For one moment Hanne allowed herself to imagine what it would be like to be Linnea Solberg. To have a head full of history or mathematics and be walking home arm in arm with Oskar. She imagined how it would feel to be striding over the hill to a fine, strong home and not down to a dark, damp stone house that was slowly falling to pieces.
Linnea would sleep on clean sheets and in the morning, put her feet into stockings that would be mended with elegant darning, if they had any holes to begin with. As for Hanne, her heel was scraped raw where her sock had worn through. Hanne walked on, hating her dirty dress, her old, mended shoes, her coarse wraps.
She hated her jealousy, and she hated who she was, for her Nytte, her “gift,” was the reason their mother had finally given up and gone away.