I hope you have all been having a wonderful month so far! I’m coming at you with a post that is long long overdue! Today I’m reviewing the first book I completed in June and I’m very excited to share my thoughts about it since I am sure EVERYONE is salivating over this cover!
I mean…BEHOLD THE BEHOLDER!
The Beholder by Anna Bright
Pub Date: June 4th, 2019
Price: $21.99 CAD
Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.
But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.
From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.
*I read an ARC of this book handed over to me by a friend!*
The Author’s letter did not lie when she mentioned that there were going to be a lot of male characters because oh boy there were many. But let’s start with the star of this whole thing.
Miss Selah. Wow. She is me and I am her. I’m not even joking. Except for the fact that she has a very troubling family situation and a very green thumb, neither of which pertain to me. Still, personality wise, I was in a way reading about myself. The shy and reserved kind of a pushover, yet 10/10 ready to fight when enough courage is mustered. I really enjoyed reading from Selah’s perspective and going through the works of juggling political machinations and her own feelings. Those are some tricky waters to deal with. That is to say, I didn’t agree with all her decisions and I think she is a little more put together than me…because I most certainly would have thrown a bigger tantrum in this book than she did at a certain point and that’s all I’ll say.
Okay so the boyzzz. I don’t know how to go about this because it could get spoilery….
So maybe I’ll just be vague and say that they were more interesting as you spend some more time with them. At first glance they all seem a little similar but give them some time and you can see the different colours. I for one think she’ll end up with a *someone* but um I don’t wanna say who or think to much about it in case I’m wrong.
The Plot and Pace
Like I said before this really is a book about treading in the waters of international courts. This is Selah’s story of finding a way to be political and be true to herself but also about her really finding out that politics is never a fair game and people will use you to their advantage. It was a lot less Pirate-y than I was hoping. We spend some time on the sea, but not enough to say this is a Pirate title. But the cover still 100% matches the book.
As for the pace, it was fairly even. It was not fast-paced, but not incredibly slow either. There are definitely some intriguing twisty things that happen and you have to give it time to do so.
I Loved That She Brought in the Classics
Bright’s book is advertised as a Cinderella x Odyssey kind of read. 10/10 you will get that. But what they don’t tell you is that if you have a degree in English studies or you fancy yourself knowledgeable of Old English lit then you will definitely find much more to enjoy in this book! Beowulf was here. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was most definitely here. And a few more European fairy tales and legends you might not have been expecting! I thought it was GREAT. Like it’s not that obvious, but I could totally pick out the connections.
Talking about this counts as spoilers. I’m keeping my lips locked, but the romance aspect of the book is very important to how things roll.
Just two things. But two major things that kinda had me at a crossroads of whether I really liked it.
What? When? Where? Why? How? So it takes place on our Earth. I know this because England, Mexico, the US and other real countries were mentioned. I was kind of uneasy with the way she explained the origins of the Asian characters because she just kept using “Asia” …unless they were from another made-up country.
Other than that, the point of the story is that we have this made up country who is basically unknown to the world. Okay fine. But then Bright brings in this made up empire that is out colonizing and terrorizing other countries. And there is a really complex story there to understand it all, but I feel like I didn’t quite get it.
Then can we talk about the time period because I don’t get it. Given the info I got from the book, this story could either be taking place right after the big movements in colonization or a few decades after. I was very unclear about it all. Like it didn’t seem modern, but the characters dress wasn’t a good indicator either since she talked about cardigans and leggings and dresses….
I am confusion.
She calls her dad “Daddy” and I just can’t.
And I say this as a hypocrite because I, Rendz, call my father “Daddy” too.
BUT I AM 21ST CENTURY WOMAN and Selah is an honestly Idek what century woman!
She also calls her step-mother “smother” many, many times. And ummmm nope.
I know authors can choose whatever language and style they want for the voice of their characters and not every fantasy book I read has to have that distant, rich, guttural voice. But I couldn’t help but cringe at times, sorry.
Overall, this was a fun read no doubt despite my qualms with it. It is not a high fantastical, fast-paced adventure, but it is the story of a girl, forced to do lots of things against her will and tread the murky waters of political courts. It’s a romantic and mystical tale I’m sure many story and fairy tale lovers will appreciate!
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
Recommend: Yes! It is a story to behold! (Bad joke I know)
Let me know what you think! Have you read this yet? Did you enjoy it? How stunning do you think that cover is? What fairy tales or legends would you love to read about?