Hi everyone! I hope your week is off to a great start. Do you often find yourself dreaming of traveling somewhere far away? If you do, you might enjoy The Beholder by Anna Bright. Here’s what I thought of it!
Selah is the only daughter of the leader of Potomac and she knows her only duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. But when her childhood friend publicly rejects her, Selah’s stepmother suggests she sets sail across the Atlantic, where potential suitors await. However, there is more than just her stepmother’s schemes that Selah has to deal with.
I enjoyed this a lot! The story itself isn’t particularly deep or philosophical, but it’s fun. The Beholder is set in some kind of alternate universe that clearly is inspired by our own world, but where countries have different borders and names. This might be a bit confusing since there’s no map in this book, but knowing the real countries’ names in their own language definitely helps (Norge more or less equals Norway, for example).
The Beholder also takes its inspiration from well-known stories. Which is fun for nerds like me, to discover these! There are references to the Odyssey, although – contrary to some promo talk I’ve seen – it’s not a retelling. There are also a few Cinderella references. And you might recognise the names of the English royal family from a certain legend, and the Norsk suitor and his family from a certain superhero movie franchise (and mythology, of course!). There are more references and easter eggs, but I’ll let you discover them yourselves.
That being said, the story itself is a bit slow. We have two visits to suitors, each taking up about 150 pages or so. And while the first one was fun to read, the second just didn’t capture my heart as much. Both the main character and the second suitor were a bit dull, to be honest… I mean, in real life I would probably be head over heels, but in fiction, I like my love interests with more “sharp edges”. And maybe this second visit didn’t capture me as much, because we had already had the first visit and – while those visits unfold differently – it felt a bit repetitive? I don’t know…
But there were a few interesting twists throughout the story and the revelations at the end sound super exciting! Selah also showed some character growth near the end, and there is a character we have only heard about, who is about to be introduced in the second book. So I can’t wait for the sequel! Why do we have to wait so long?!