Publication Date: December 4, 2013
Seemingly disconnected deaths and abductions around the world are connected with a symbol branded on them or in their living environment. In The Beholder by Ivan Amberlake, Jason, an average New Yorker, has been having strange dreams of a beautiful woman warning him of a power lurking within him that is the only thing to stop coming evil. Will Jason embrace his power in time to stop the ultimate destruction?
The author, Ivan Amberlake, gave me a copy of this novel for review.
The Beholder by Ivan Amberlake is a very technically well-written novel. Falling into the New Adult genre of fiction it’s a bit of an acid trip of a story. The nature of New Adult is that it skips genres, but in this novel, there is less a problem with cohesion and more an issue with connection.
Ivan Amberlake starts the novel by introducing us to the true focal theme: The battle between good and evil. Shadows and Light are personified and Shadow is a canny warrior. The by-play during this brief battle shows the author’s skill with action that carries his story through this 264-page work. It is short, brutal and brilliant.
It is in modern day New York where the story starts to feel a little forced. Jason and his friends Matthew and Donna are average New Yorkers working average jobs in interior design. There are things that belie this story being set in modern day. When Jason collapses in the bathroom the characters wonder if a doctor should be called instead of suggesting taking him to the ER. When driving in New York the traffic moves “slowly but steadily”. We’re told that Jason, Matthew and Donna are an interior design team working for a larger corporation, yet when there’s a rush to replace a rain-damaged report they’re making copies instead of re-assembling sample boards. Jason is also many times in the novel a “gosh, golly, gee” type of character. Jason is deeply emotional and, we’re led to believe, connected with his friends. We know when he collapses in the bathroom that he kind of knows, courtesy of nightmares, what’s happening and yet often he comes off rather pie-eyed.T he Beholder is book one of a series and when we leave Jason he has grown as a character immeasurably and while the end result is distinct the progress read as contrived.
Amberlake’s profile states that this author is an “avid editor” and that skill shows in Beholder. While frequently Amberlake’s dialogue is stilted, his descriptions are vivid. “The storm of sound rolled over him so quickly that he understood what was happening only after several pieces (of the broken mirror) had ripped into the girl’s flesh.” (Page 59). Emily instructs Jason about “The Sight” a deep ability already within him. In this first novel of the series, Jason is often an observer unsure of his place in the story. He watches as Pariah (Shadows) and Emily (Light) face off after a skyscraper explosion. Emily literally and figuratively drives him Jason and readers into the depth of the Sighted world. The author description on Amazon confesses a love of Harry Potter and while I enjoyed some of the movies it was also a series with which I was not able to connect as a reader. I do see some style similarities that may appeal to fans of the genre.
The Beholder is a solid start to the series planned but one that simply did not engage this reader. If you’re a fan of J.K. Rowling, give this novel a shot and let me know what you think.
Read an excerpt and buy The Beholder by Ivan Amberlake on