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The Beholder

Narrated by: Emily Rankin
Series: Beholder, Book 1
Length: 11 hrs and 50 mins
4 out of 5 stars (46 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“Sparkles with beauty, intrigue, and romance.” (Kiera Cass, number-one New York Times best-selling author of the Selection series)

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. 

But after an excruciatingly public rejection, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic to visit a series of potential suitors - and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From the gardens of England to the fjords of Norge, 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.

Lush landscapes, dazzling romance, and captivating intrigue await in this stunning alternate-history YA debut - perfect for fans of The Selection or Caraval.

©2019 Anna Bright (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

A hot mess

This book is a hot mess. I kept waiting for it to get better… and then it ended.

The setting: When is this book set? An alternate history post-American revolution that didn’t happen? Sometime in the 1800s? Instead of the American revolution, India - I mean ‘Bharat’ - had a violent rebellion and England retreated back into its own borders to mind its own business and give up on empire? There’s this evil Eastern European empire that’s chewing up countries and spitting them out ravenously and everyone is afraid of it? Why do Europe, New York, and England get to keep their names but every other (non-white) country gets a name change? A girl can’t rule on her own but suddenly there are radios and she’s wearing a ponytail?

The ‘retelling’: This is not a retelling of anything. It’s a mish-mash of fairy tales and myths that make little sense and are just cobbled together into …. well I’m not sure what.

The main character: Selah is the worst MC I’ve read in a while. She has no agency. None. She drifts along, letting the plot happen to her, falls for every boy she meets, cries constantly, ignores whatever illegal activity the Beholder’s crew is getting up to, and is utterly infuriating. I kept thinking well, she’s annoying and passive *now* but let’s give her a chance to grow… and then the book ended. Spoiler: she didn’t grow. She has a brief moment of standing up for Anya and saying she should choose who she marries — and then goes back to blindly following her evil? stepmother’s plan to woo a different boy every two weeks. No. Agency. No acknowledgement that she's just as much a pawn as Anya. Also she claims that a character she’s barely spoken three words to is ‘like a brother to her’ and the Beholder’s crew is like family… when she never interacts with them and they have the depth of cardboard for all we've seen of them.

There was one brief moment on the Beholder, before all the nonsense of falling all over all the boys started, when it *did* feel like she was at home there with them. And then it was over. But that was the one point where I thought I might like where the book was going.

The love interests: Why must she fall for every single one? Why is she ‘completely in love’ with three different boys in one book? and honestly there were signs that Captain Lang was going to be another one but that never materialized. Just ugh.

The stepmother: why is she SO evil? And no one else can see it? and her father does nothing and is just wasting away? while she schemes to send Selah away for good?

The audiobook: The narrator was all right. She made the MC sound like a whiny brat which to be fair she was. Also some characters got really strong accents which was a bit weird but with the confusing setting was excusable.

Summary: A hot mess. Seriously. Skip this one

3 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Why so boring?

I didn't understand the setting at all.
The characters were so drab, despite being tied to several mythos. I don't get how certain anecdotes are so wonderfully detailed, but all other aspects are super drab, and the detailed anecdotes have nothing to do with the actual story at all.
The MC is cool with being dragged through the dirt by people around her, is pretty much a defenseless, hopeless coward. She isn't someone who anyone can see as a leader, and it the story focuses on a vast harem of men after her, or rejecting her, rather than recognizing even one special talent or ability. She is not clever, pretty, strong or capable, just kind, and even so, has no special story arc or anything, only an interest in saving her father, who's illness isn't even detailed. The stepmother is the one with the most depth in the story and, other than her effort to get her son on the throne(?), she has no logical reason to despise the kid. The kingdom (?) is small, but not given any type of detail at all. Its just a weird place were the colonies became a kingdom, and i can't even be sure of that, because there is no history or lore, or detail at all.
I I could feel for a girl pushing against the odds to help save her ailing father, or her kingdom, or even just settling in her fate and being happy, but there was no redemption or anything. Just flat and empty writing, like a period romance novel where every character is the stereotypical evil, and the MC is a hero just because she is our main focus.

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

The pacing is slooooowww

I don’t know if it’s just the performance but I have hard time paying attention. I’m so bored with the performance that I don’t know how I like the book. The book can take a long time to get anywhere but I think I’m just going to read the physical copy.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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So good!

I never wrote reviews and the only bad thing I can say is I should have waited to read the book closer to the book 2 release. The story was well-written and it wasn’t obvious what would happen next. The romance is the perfect amount and as a character the heroine is relatable. Love it! I was disappointed the author didn’t have more books I could download and listen to!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Cute but could have been much better.

This book is HEAVILY based on romance and I wasn’t expecting it to be. I wanted more from it, for it to be more mature and political but it was much more of a lighthearted read than I expected.

The actress reading could have been more enthusiastic and emotional with her performance but her girlish soft spoken tone made the whole book seem younger. Also her southern accents were awful and very fake sounding.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

long and dragged out

It took me a long while to finish this book it dragged on and on. It was disappointing to find out it is only the first part of the series. I'm not even interested in finding out what actually happens further in the story. It so draw out it was a Struggle to listen to.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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overall a good read!

lovely narrator. The story took a bit to get into but in the end I really liked it

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Ready for more

Really liked the twist on history where Native Americans rule what is North America. Then all the other characters from different stories pop up as our main character becomes more confident.
<A BIT OF SPOILAGE>
The characters from a known mythos are presented in their natural setting. I filled in my minds eye how through the years a storyteller might turn the Allfather's two human advisors Huginn and Muninn into something else entirely because they wear black , flap their cloaks, and are described as being able to "see all".
Plus having real ravens as advisors makes the story more interesting!

In this story the humans worked.
<<SPOILAGE OVER!>>


I enjoyed it immensely and the narrator Emily Rankin is great.
This is just my kind of tale. Twists on history, known myth, and fairytales but not depending on those stories too much. Just great!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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unexpected story

I didn't expect to fall in love with three boys and one is not even an intended. He's also the one I like the most. I hope it's not a long wait for the next book. This is the first book I've read in a long time that I can say I have no idea what's going to happen next. (After reading a second time I've changed my mind on who I love the most.)

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    4 out of 5 stars
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unexpected story

I didn't expect to fall in love with three boys and one is not even an intended. He's also the one I like the most. I hope it's not a long wait for the next book. This is the first book I've read in a long time that I can say I have no idea what's going to happen next.

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  • 07-07-19

Loved it

“The thigs we like are different. The things we love, are the same”.

This was beautifully written, and everything I was hoping for! I think the fact it was marketed as an “Odyssey” retelling might have thrown people off, as it’s not really anything like that - I would say it’s more similar in genre/plot to the Glittering Court series / the selection series. So if you liked either of those I would think you would love this too. We follow Selah as she journeys through various countries, meeting eligible suitors, but there are a few twists and turns which I did not see coming. There is a lot of romance, which is beautifully done. The descriptions are vivid and the language so beautiful that it is poetic at times. And the ending was a big twist! I am really looking forward to the second book but am also hoping a few of the characters from this book make an appearance, as I fell completely in love with them!
One thing that is difficult to follow is where all the various countries are, so a pdf map would be great for the next book. Overall, highly recommend!