Author: Anna Bright
Series: The Beholder #1
”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.Goodreads Synopsis
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.”
There’s one thing I want to get of my chest before I really start with the reviewing; After I finished this book I read that it’s supposed to be a Odyssey and Cinderella retelling.. No no no NO! Having Homer popping up once in a while and Selah sometimes having a dream about Penelope does not make it a retelling of the Odyssey! Also; Stepmother+dropped shoe+princes does not make it a Cinderella retelling. I will not accept this book being labeled a retelling, period. Anna Bright have obviously found inspirations in different places, but that’s a whole other thing.
Selah is the Seneshal-elect of Potomac, meaning she will inherit her fathers position as leader of her people in the future. That is to say if she finds a suitable husband to help her, as a woman couldn’t possibly handle such a position by herself! Which is of corse horsecrap, but that’s the rules of this game.. Her first love publicly rejects her for reasons ”unknown”, and her pregnant stepmother immediately suggests a tour of the world to find a husband. This seems like a sudden idea, but it soon becomes clear that said stepmother has been planning this for a long time. She already have a ship, crew and appointments booked for Selah, and Selah’s father is to weak to argue against it. So off we go!
She has a list with details about her intended husbands, and now just has to make a plan to get back as soon as possible to stop her stepmothers scheming. And so she will not have to come close to the horrible Imperiya Yotne, with she fears so much because of a bedtime story she was told as a child. Come on!! Yes it is a horrible place in reality too, but she will do soooo much damage by ignoring the appointment and not going there. Does she care? Nope. She’s hell bent on snatching up bachelor 2 or 3 (The boy back home being number 1) and then go straight home. Damn the consequences.
Selah and the crew of the ship The Beholder travel across the Atlantic and stops in England and Norge. The crew are obviously a suspicious lot with many secrets, but Selah decides to trust them anyways because their secrets does not seem to have much to do with with her situation or journey. Oh but wait! There’s the young ”king of secrets” captain who does not seem to approve of any of the boys/men she meets. I’ll call him the wildcard contestant number 1,5. Wow, this really is the Bachelorette.. And poor Selah just wanted cardboard-doll contestant number 1, this many choices may make her brain explode. And I want to be there when it does.
Earth, but kind of an alternative reality. I noticed nothing supernatural or other thing that are made up. But the History is different and countries names have changed, most to what they are actually called in their real world native language. Like Japan = Nippon. But I would have loved a map in this book! It would have made the path they are traveling on more clear due to the changes that has been done to our geography. The Imperiya Yotne is most likely located where our Russia is, but I am not completely sure how large it is at this point.
There’s also real world languages in here, or I’m 90% sure of it. The Swedish and Norwegian language are REALLY similar, so when a Norwegian word showed up I could understand it. But since I have not looked it up in a dictionary, I can’t wow that it has been used 100% correctly.
Oh there are so many beautiful imperfections here to explore! Selah is shy, sheltered, naive and very much a teenager. With all the hormones that comes with it, and loads of self-righteous anger without any self awareness. She takes her crushes way too seriously in my opinion, and trusts way too easily for the situation she’s in. And on several occasions she contributes attributes to other people that does not match reality, or just very comfortably fits into her own wants and dreams. These traits would actually have been quite endearing, in an ”aw, honey” kind of way, were it not for the fact of the role she occupies in her society. To be frank, I don’t think she would have been a good leader of anything that has to do with navigating society. Organising a party perhaps, but definitely not running a country.She does grow into a slightly stronger and reflective person as the story progresses, and I’m excited to see how she grows in the next book.
Here’s a few no-spoiler words for the suitors:
The childhood friend: He’s always been so kind. That’s it. He’s a Ken doll.
The English Prince: Oh poor idiot! I can’t decide if he’s too much of a romantic to be let out among people, or if he’s insane.. Delusional either way.
The Prince of Norge: He’s family oriented, loyal.. Oh hell! My brain totally ruined this man.. A Norwegian red haired, athletic, warrior man.. All I saw when he showed up was Tormund Giantsbane! Which is not the right personality, but entertained me immensely!! (Sorry, not sorry.)
I like the warping of our world and it’s history into this book. Such things as naming the countries in their native language and the addition of the character Homer, who was at one point telling the story Odyssey, was really fun. There were many more nudges to our own history. There was one part that to me just screamed Henry VIII meeting Anne of Cleves. (Yes, I like history)
Everything felt very cleverly done, sometimes a bit on the nose perhaps, but always enjoyable.
I honestly did not expect much when I received this book from my monthly Fairyloot box. I usually run from anything like The Bachelor, but I picked up this book on a whim and thought I might at least get a good laugh out of it. But jokes on me! There I sat and binge read the entire thing and found myself entirely entertained. I really enjoyed to follow the story and actually was quite invested in it and the characters in the end.
The book does feel a bit like a very long build up for the next one with all the hints about rebel groups moving around and nothing huge really happening world wide. But it’s a surprisingly good build up! Like the calm before the storm, and I am really looking forward to seeing what happens next. 4 stars from me! And a new lesson learned; Don’t judge a book based on the blurb or synopsis. Marketing people lie.