Hi Biblioshelf Friends,
How is your week going? I have had lots of exciting book mail this week so I finally have enough to make a book haul post at the end of the month (for what feels like the first time ever!).
At the end of April, I finished reading The Beholder for the OWLs Magical Readthon last month (wrap post here if you’re interested!). I was so intrigued to get into this book and not just because my copy was the Fairyloot Exclusive edition with pink sprayed edges and rose gold foiling on the front. The idea of sailing off to different kingdoms to look for a suitor on a big ship sounded perfect for the prompt of a book set on the seas/coast. If you want a little sneak peek of the book then check out my #Friday56 post here!
Book: The Beholder by Anna Bright
Genre: Fantasy (YA)
Publication Date: 4th June 2019
Publisher: Harper Teen [FairyLoot Exclusive]
Synopsis from Goodreads
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 when the night of Selah’s engagement ends in an excruciatingly public rejection, her stepmother proposes the unthinkable: 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 even beyond borders of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But as she searches for her future husband, she realizes that 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 is a tale which revolves around the main character, Selah, having to travel throughout the world on her ship (The Beholder) to try and find a suitor to marry. Selah is the Seneschal Elect who hopes to take over the running of the Ptomac community after her father. Unfortunately, she also has an evil, pregnant stepmother who wants to be rid of her whilst her father is getting increasingly ill. Selah hopes that by finding an appropriate suitor to take home, she will be able to assume her place as her Father’s successor before it’s too late.
This wonderful tale serves as Anna Bright’s ode to fairytale heritage. Chapter dividers and inserts offer little instalments and snippets from well-know folk and fairytales which foreshadow the events coming forth. To add to that, some of the main companions on Selah’s journey are named after some of the most well-known storytellers such as Perrault and Lang. I loved these little touches.
I was intrigued that the main heroine hailed from Ptomac as I haven’t read many mainsteam novels from that part of the world. The Arbor hall seemed to emphasise the ways the Ptomacs value the land and this is echoed in Selah’s agricultural upbringing as she looks after her community as one alongside her people. Selah’s character was honest and genuine throughout the start of the book. Her determination and will to not be beaten and take up her rightful role to aid her father was the driving force throughout her narrative. Her experiences of far-off places and the new world unfolded as she travelled to each destination. It was clear to see her turmoil and naivety through the way the potential suitors each individually influenced her attitudes and decision making.
For me, the first part of the book was really intriguing. I enjoyed the sense of journeying through different lands to find a suitor. But somewhere between the first and second/third kingdoms, I got a little lost along the way. Whether it was because I found things slightly repetitive or needed a few extra plot twists and turns to keep me going, I’m not sure. The extent of the story in a snapshot, is a good one; however, the big build-up I was waiting for from the third kingdom, which was feared so much that Selah didn’t even want to journey there, didn’t seem to fully reveal itself. Maybe it will in the sequel.
Either way, Anna Bright’s writing is immersive and lyrical, characters have enough depth, mystery and suspicion for your allegiances to keep shifting and the insights into different territories draws up a brilliant fantasy world based on our own familiar planet. For me, the novel seemed to split itself into two parts. The first half of the book was exceptional and really pulled me into the story, the second half didn’t quite balance with that but I’m still very keen to see where Bright takes this story next.
Have you read The Beholder? Is it on your TBR? Or do you feel like you really need a sailing trip around lots of new kingdoms right about now? As always, drop me a comment to chat!