Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Beholder by Anna Bright

Selah is the seneschal-elect and expects to be the leader of Potomac one day.  Her path to taking charge hits a roadblock when her proposal to Peter, the boy she believes will be her partner, is turned down. Now her cold stepmother has rallied Potomac's council to send Selah overseas to meet a series of leaders, demanding that she come home engaged to one of them.  Despite her worry over her father's failing health, Selah has no choice in the matter and boards The Beholder with a small crew to begin her mission with England as her first stop.  As she examines the suitors her stepmother has arranged for her to meet, she realizes that all but one of them are the first born sons and would therefore be required to stay in their own country.  Selah knows she has to make a match with one of the first two men or else she will be heading into Imperiya Yotne, a region ruled by a dictator from which visitors don't return.

Once Selah got to England I was reading this book with a search engine open right alongside.  Why?  Because of all the storytelling elements included in this original story.  I started out thinking this was going to be a Cinderella-based story when Selah lost one of her shoes.  Then I was sure it was Snow White with the evil stepmother.  Eventually I worked out that it is all of them, and more.  I was already delighted with the Easter eggs of Perrault and Homer and Andersen but once it came to me that we were dealing with the King Arthur story, I was looking up every new person and event to confirm my suspicions.  And then we moved on to Norse mythology!  I can see some of the flaws in the book - too long for most teens, Selah falls in love too easily, I don't like how her crew is keeping secrets from her - but I was still just enjoying the ride.  If you are not as familiar with mythology and folklore it might not be as much fun for you but I think it's still a good adventure/romance.

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