I participated in my first Readalong ever with FairyLoot for the May Box “Unlikely Romances”. The book featured in the box was The Beholder by Anna Bright. The Readalong was held from June 17th to June 21st (five days). Since we had to read 12 chapters every day I decided I would do a review about the Chapters of each day!
Summary (Goodreads): 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. 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.
It’s supposed to be a retelling of The Odyssey. by Homer and other famous fairytales…
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Day 1: Chapters 1-12
I love the little extracts from actual fairytales (in French and in German…) and the hints to famous storytellers with some of the characters’ names such as ‘Grimm, Andersen, Perrault’. I like the quick and efficient writing style and there are very nice quotes. It’s set in an alternate universe close to ours but I wish there had been a map, I got a little lost.
I was actually dying from second-hand embarrassment for Selah when she got rejected. It was SO predictable. I feel like she is a little too naive or childish. I wish she would stand up a little bit more for herself but I guess that’s the whole point; to see her become braver and more confident. Since it’s inspired by fairytales, I think her “smother” is very sketchy and I do NOT trust her the least. She “forsaw” this…um. let me doubt that. However, the only character I immediately liked is her godmother. I also feel like there are too many characters and some don’t bring anything to the story but we will see…
I also suspect some romance with Captain Lang and I can’t wait for Selah to meet her suitors and see which princes they’re inspired by!
Day 2: Chapters 13-24
Alessandra’s plans seem to become clearer: she does NOT want Selah to come home, does she? I also suspect that she’s poisoning Selah’s father…I loved the way Selah reacted with those visits. But what’s up with that play? Selah is right: something feels off…
I loved how the author included Penelope’s story! So clever! This is the retelling I’ve been waiting for! Can we have more though?
The Prince is 40?? What? This makes me quite uncomfortable. Also, why is Bear rude to her for no reason at all? Ugh. I think his behaviour is very odd for a simple guard. Also the way he interacts with the other members of the royal family; especially the children…Other question: why would Lang want to sail to the Imperiya? What is he hiding? It’s so frustrating! And why isn’t Selah pushing him for answers, it’s her ship (technically). I need answers and I want them now!
Perrault called me a backwater princess. I guess I’ve learned how to dig my heels in.
I like the fact that Selah is starting to stand up for herself. Go girl!
Day 3: Chapters 25-35
Yes! The love story I’ve been waiting for! It happened quite suddenly but it’s SO cute! Their interactions and Bear’s possessiveness was so lovely to read about. They actually had the perfect “date” at the library…WHICH MAKES THE PLOT TWIST EVEN MORE BITTER! I understand their motives, and Alessandra’s schemes are sketchy, but poor Selah has to pay the price. They betrayed her trust and I am SO HAPPy she left.
No mortal wounds, perhaps, but the scars these boys had left me would remain.
I felt her pain and her humiliation and kudos to the team for standing up for Selah and acting like a real crew. I don’t know how I feel about Lang though…
Day 4: Chapters 36-44
It’s a little too-quick paced for me. Also CHAOS. They are a chaotic sibling group and I am here for it, I love their dynamic. Also it’s cute how they included Selah and did not make her feel like an outsider. However: too many characters, I can’t keep up. Aleksei makes me uneasy. Also eavesdropping, yikes. It’s NEVER a good idea.
I don’t know how I feel about Torden and Selah’s relationship; Selah has no time to heal and it shows; but the show must go on, right? I like Torden, but where is the chemistry; where? He seem too sweet, as in too righteous and I don’t think it will end well, something is brewing; I feel it. It’s a little too quick and Selah’s feelings are not believable to me. There’s not spark. Anya and Skop will bring nothing but trouble; mark my words! I don’t like Norge as much as I liked England, why did you have to play my girl Selah like that, England?
Day 5: Chapters 45- to end
SELAH STANDING UP FOR SKOP! Her Gryffindor is showing! I am here for it! My baby, I’m so proud of her.
The “king” seems more like a tyrant to me…
Time to begin writing my own story. To begin doing something worth writing about at all.
AS IF, Selah would resign her title! Alessandra you scheming little stepmother! Torden cannot leave and I knew it. Alessandra outsmarted Selah. It seemed too good to be true! The moment Anya went” missing” everything went downhill from there for Selah. But I like the fact that Selah realized she doesn’t need a partner to be a good leader. That is the character development I was waiting for! Also, the ending was not as good as I hoped? It was kind of obvious to a certain point that they were part of the resistance… I’m kind of disappointed.
Expectations: a retelling of The Odyssey and fairtyales
Reality: a heroine who sails on her ship (like Odysseus, you see the link?) and a character named Homer who briefly makes an account of Penelope’s myth. WHERE are the fairytales retellings? I get that the author wanted to be subtle but maybe it was too subtle? Maybe it’s just me but: who are Bear and Torden inspired from? King Arthur and Thor? Is that it? The simple fact that I have to guess is telling enough.
Selah’s character development took ages. She appeared childish and naive and I wanted to shake some sense into her. I LOVED that she didn’t settle for Bear’s scheme and I ADORED when she defended Skop. She truly is a badass and it was about time she realized it.
There were too many back stories left undeveloped such as the relationship between Bragi and Anya, the full backstory of Potomac, the tsarytsya’s domination, England’s history, the dynamic among the sailors, the Resistance…
The love stories (yes plural) would have been believable in different, separate books with each boy being the main love interest but in the span of 400 pages? NO. I’m sorry, no. I know she was looking for suitors, but she basically handed them her heart on a silver platter. It was abrupt. Bear went from being rude, to being bearable, to being madly in love with Selah in two weeks. Then, with Torden, there was simply no chemistry between them. Selah herself admitted that it was going too quickly. She was still mourning the end of her relationship with Bear. She thought Torden was nice and forced the relationship because she wanted to get back home to her father and mostly avoid stepping into the Imperiya. Torden himself describes her as “too sweet”, it’s just too much.
Also since those characters are
supposed to be inspired by fairytales characters, they were too caricatural for my liking: the evil stepmother who poisons the heroine’s loving but submissive father, the nice fairy godmother, the mother dying in the heroine’s youth. There was no twist or depths to them.
However, the book is very well-written and there are some very beautiful quotes. Some quotes are truly inspiring and there is character development; Selah goes from being the innocent, docile girl to the someone not yet a wild and fierce; but close.
Thank you for reading!