The Beholder

HarperTeen/HarperCollins/. (Beholder: Bk. 1.). Jun. 2019. 448p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062845429.
Gr 9 Up–Selah is the Seneschal-elect of the land of Potomac and a bride-to-be. Her life as leader of Potomac and wife of the boy she loves is at her fingertips until Peter refuses her marriage proposal. Before she can become Seneschal, Selah must marry—and quickly—because her father, the current Seneschal, is very ill. Before she has time to think, Selah’s stepmother, Alessandra, sends her away to find a suitable husband. Selah and the crew handpicked by her cunning stepmother board The Beholder and sail across the Atlantic to meet her first suitor in England. In order to thwart Alessandra’s plans, Selah works to make a love connection with the Prince of England and the Prince of Norge, but as she pursues the princes, a bigger threat to Potomac and the world arises. This novel contains moments of nuance including the world-building and the interactive storybook, however they take a backseat to the romances that are predictable and slow. The large cast of characters restricts the development of a couple of standouts.
VERDICT This book incorporates classic fairy tales into an alternate universe creating a unique setting, and while choice and freedom are strong themes, the pacing and the underdeveloped world will leave readers wanting more clarity. Purchase where fairy-tale retellings are popular.

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