Title & Author: The Beholder by Anna Bright
Genre: YA- Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: June 4th 2019
Series: The Beholder #1
Source: ARC via Publisher
Description: 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 received this book early in exchange for an honest review
This book was a wild ride from start to finish. A confusing, wild ride but still ultimately fun. I sped through this from the moment I read the first chapter. It reads sort of similar to the Selection series where Selah must meet and try to find her future husband through matches made by her step mother. Selah is very timid and pure and this further reminded me of America from the Selection. All the potential suitors are handsome and have their own unique customs and mannerisms. I found myself loving a specific one until a huge plot twist would come in (one that I had a sort of idea about but was still ultimately thrown when it happened because holy heck that was rough) and then mourning with Selah as she must journey on to meet and try to fall in love with the next one. Each suitor teaches Selah a vital lesson and we get to see her growth as a person and future ruler with each stop.
I enjoyed the use of fairy tale references and character archetypes. Selah’s step mother is very definitively evil. There are mentions of Homer and the Odyssey as well as a few other tales that Bright wove into the tale. I also really enjoyed the slices of fairy tales at the beginning of each chapter. They are written in their original language and then translated below. It adds whimsy to the tale and reminds the reader that Selah relies heavily on her knowledge of tales and folklore and draws courage from heroines and heroes.
My only real issue was lack of consistency in the book. There is no real established timeline in this book and although some parts of the book are sudo-similar to our world like America and England there were others that seemed made up. Also each country that Selah had to journey to seemed to be set in a different time period. England was more middle ages while other places seemed further along in their development. There was mention and use of a invention that wasn’t created until the late 1800s and further more when people encountered such invention they had no idea what it was or how it worked. There was also mention of sports/activities that would have been created in the 1800s including one that traces its roots to England but when Selah visited England they had jousting tournaments, etc instead. I think ultimately it would be more understood if the final book had a map to explain this world and where landmarks are. The discrepancies in time didn’t really matter to me but did take me out of the story when they appeared as I tried to place them and then ultimately just decided to ignore the confusion because the rest of the story was so thrilling. Please note that Selah only reaches two of her suitors in this book and will continue on (I’m assuming) in the next book. I was defiantly not expecting a series out of this but I look forward to the next one!