“The Beholder” by Anna Bright

Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for the Advance Review copy.

This book is touted as an adaptation of The Odyssey. Let me get one thing out of the way, it most certainly isn’t. Apart from a character called Homer and a brief reference to Odysseus I couldn’t see anything related to The Odyssey.

It takes place in an alternate version of Earth with some familiar countries e.g. England and some not so familiar ones. In this world much of Europe has been conquered by the Imperiya (Russia basically) and the US is split into courts. In the court of Potomac we have the Seneschal elect Selah, the heroine of this story.

Selah’s evil stepmother (no really) sends Selah off on a Bacherlorette-esque tour of Europe on ‘The Beholder’ to try and get her married off and out of the way. Sound bonkers enough yet? If you’ve read The Selection you know the drill.

There are lots of fairy tale, folklore and myth easter eggs in here including nods to Cinderella, Snow White, Anansi, Baba Yaga and Norse Mythology. No Odyssey that I could see though sadly.

The main issue I had with this book is that the main character is a total drip. By her own admission she’s nothing very remarkable in appearance and has no discernable skills or much of a personality really. Despite this, every suitor she meets seems to fall hopelessly in love with her. In the period of four weeks she manages to fall in love twice and be loved in return. Pretty sure the captain of The Beholder has a thing for her too. It’s just unrealistic and rather silly.

It also didn’t make sense to me why her motley crew of sailors attended her suitor visits and the courts. There were too many of them to keep track of and there wasn’t much character development, I lost track of who was supposed to be who. Things dragged a bit towards the end too.

Despite all that, I did have fun reading this book despite the silliness and I’ll probably read the next book when it’s released. I think the story has potential I just hope that we see Selah grow more as a character and the romance elements develop to become more believable.

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