The Beholder

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.

-The Beholder, Anna Bright

Pub Date: June 4th, 2019
GoodReads

Getting rejected when you propose is always hard, especially in front of pretty much all of your subjects, but when rejection happens in literature it’s important for the reader to have an established connection with the character. I felt very little for Selah as her heart was broken in front of her whole kingdom in the first chapter. There simply was not enough time to have gotten to know her. It’s not long afterward that she is forced to set sail in order to find a husband.

For most of her journey, Selah felt incredibly spoiled and naive, constantly missing opportunities to learn from her mistakes. Bright could’ve easily skipped The Beholder‘s opening scene and filled us in later, streamlining us straight to Selah’s journey aboard the ship. Instead, we spend a lot of time on the boat.

But the time of the boat was not wasted. We gather most of the world building here, confirming Bright’s use of magical realism, which is without a doubt, the strongest element of The Beholder.

Bright includes some of our favorite fairy tale and classical characters in her world’s history, including Baba Yaga, Hansel and Gretel, and Homer. Admittedly, the selections from various fairy tales at the chapter breaks were confusing, as Bright’s world presents more like historical fiction, but that is quickly remedied within the text.

Bright clearly understands her work and what she wants to do.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

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