First in a series // YA // Alternate History // Character Journey
One note before we get started, in the current moment, I would probably be rating this book four stars, but I don’t like changing my rating after time goes by. It just doesn’t feel genuine to my reading style and I’m a-okay with being in love with this book five stars worth right after finishing it.
I’m impressed! I’m impressed with The Beholder by Anna Bright. This looked and sounded just like what I call a “typical” YA fantasy that I like okay but is never anything special. I ended last year with several “typical” YA fantasies that sound a lot like The Beholder and have similar covers, that I expected to be good, but were absolutely unenjoyable, so even though I am an eternal optimist at heart, I have been afraid to pick up any of these books that I otherwise would have been excited about. But I am hoping to be wrong more often than I’m right.
The Beholder is a alternative US history where the US is still under a monarchy. This should have been on the inside flap, because I missed this fact and it brought such personality to this book throughout the whole story! Our main character, Selah, at the very beginning, was absolutely rejected by her childhood best friend and first love, and so her “evil” stepmother sends her off to find a political husband with no intention of her returning home.
I don’t often like books centered on romance where the love interest isn’t clear cut, but this is one of the main reasons I am dying to get my hands on the next book. Selah sails across the sea to different countries, with different suitors, and the personality of both the place and the prince is what is so strong.
Characters: Selah starts out as a naive, privileged main character, who slowly becomes more independent and able to make her own decisions as she works to protect her home and her heart.
Mini spoiler ahead: Selah makes a terrifying, hard decision that keeps her future in flux, but was so couragous, in order to protect her heart in the future. That one decision really turned the tide of this book for me and had me rooting for her with every sentence.
Plot: At the beginning of this book, it seems like a simple black and white plot focused on romance, but throughout the story, the mystery and plot deepens, both for Selah, and also for her home. Her character is the main focus of this book, and reading from her perspective gives us a specific view into the plot, and her naivete furthers the lack of knowledge of what we don’t know as readers.
Setting: It is a personal love of mine to have stories on the high seas, centered around the long-form travel across waves and though that isn’t the main setting of this book, the feel matches perfectly with the oceanic place.
The different countries in this book are also unique and varied, starting with Selah’s home. Potomac seems like a peaceful place, under the affluent hand of the British monarchy, and I love it. The Revolutionary War is one of my favorite time in history, not because I really love the United States, but because of the simple, hard-working feel of people just going after life and what they want. Selah also travels to a Britain equivalent and a Norse country and each place stands up on its own. Though the worldbuilding doesn’t let these places feel connected, it is a strategic move to create identified places linked by sea journeys.
I can’t wait for the next book and I am so hoping that the sequel holds up to the anticipation I have for it!
Other June 2019 Reads:
June 2019 Wrap-up
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He (DNF)
Tentacle & Wing by Sarah Porter
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill
Hilda & The Stone Forest by Luke Pearson
Memento by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The Beholder by Anna Bright
Birthday by Meredith Russo