Title: The Beholder (The Beholder #1)
Author: Anna Bright
I struggled with a rating, because while there were parts of the story I enjoyed, for the most part I felt pretty meh about the book. But before I get into my review, let’s talk about that cover because wow is it gorgeous. And I’m blessed to have the FairyLoot edition which has pastel pink sprayed edges and rose gold foil lettering – two colors that I absolutely love. It’s such a pretty book!
I’m not sure why The Beholder has been described as The Odyssey meets The Bachelorette, because the only thing resembling The Odyssey is a member of Selah’s crew named Homer. So if you’re going into this expecting a retelling of that particular tale, you are going to be disappointed.
My biggest issue is the world building. I’ve seen other reviewers mention their concerns and I totally agree that the setting felt extremely disorganized, confusing, and anachronistic. There are so many contrasting aspects present and it pulled me out of the story multiple times. The book begins like it’s planning to be an alternative historical fiction set not too long after Potomac’s separation from England, however, later in the book there’s the presence of radios; and yet no other mention of technology exists, such as electricity. Different parts of the book read like they took place in different time periods, and the dialogues featured a lot of present day words and phrases. There was just way too much going on to make any sense of anything.
And now the romances. Here’s where I need to give Anna Bright a lot kudos for getting me to successful root for multiple love interests in the same book. We meet one of suitors early on, and I grew to really enjoy his character and the blossoming romance between him and Selah as the pages went on. Upon meeting the next suitor, I was very surprised to find myself also loving this particular love interest and becoming totally invested in Selah’s relationship with him to the point that I literally forgot about the previous suitor.
While I didn’t mind the multiple love interests (it’s obviously a huge part of the plot and unsurprising to the reader because of the synopsis), I took issue with the way the romances were written. Developing attraction, affection, and feelings in a short period of time is understandable and relatable. Falling completely in love in a two week period (with back to back guys) is not love: it’s infatuation. There’s also a third hinted love interest (and the direction I’m pretty sure the author is ultimately going to take it…unfortunately), as well as another potential suitor we’re destined to meet in the sequel, who I’m actually really interested in learning more about. If I decided to read the next book, it’ll be because I’m really excited about him!
It wasn’t my intention to rant, because honestly I did not hate the book and I truly don’t believe it’s a bad story. The Beholder has a very intriguing and unique premise, and I think with some extra polishing and structure it could have been a great story. In the end, I felt too confused by all the different elements of the plot and world-building to enjoy it as much as I had hoped.