Title: Beholder: Cursed
Author: Christina Bauer
Publication Date: Sept 2016
I received an ARC from the author for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.
Although Elea’s the most powerful necromancer in history, she’s spent most of her nineteen years imprisoned in the Midnight Cloisters. Enchanted manacles keep her unique brand of soul magick in check. While the guards and initiates seem contented to torment her, the Cloister’s Mother Superior is obsessed with finding a safe way to destroy Elea, both body and soul.
Escape seems impossible until a handsome hunter named Asher offers to help. Elea takes a chance and soon develops feelings for the mysterious stranger. However, Asher may not be who he claims. Then again, Elea may not be, either…
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The premise sounding promising but I still had some misgivings. I’m happy to say those were knocked clear out if the water after reading it. We follows Elea who is running out of time to beat a curse placed on her friend Tristan and the one he cares for the most; Elea. At least that’s what Tristan lead her to believe. In trying to put an end to a curse that will have her alongside Tristan in a sort of purgatory being burned with magic flames each night, she will have to go infiltrate the stronghold of the Grand Master, the mage responsible for the curse . Infiltration is easy enough, it’s getting out that might very well be impossible..
I loved everything about this book except the length. I seriously could have read another 500 pages or so because I thought there was a lot that could have been expanded on. The world-building is just sufficient to give one an idea of this world. The characters are developed and interesting. I especially love Elea’s character and the fact that she has to learn to excel in wielding her necromantic magic. She is determined and strong. The dialogue and interaction between characters is well-written and realistic. The magical system is also very interesting and I like the idea of two sorts of mages; the Necromancers and the Casters. The combination of these called hybrid magic idea is also brilliant. The plot is well laid out with a few twists and turns and lots of action, a bit of romance and moves along at a very fast-pace; maybe too fast at times.
I loved the epic/high fantasy feel to this even though I think it’s an urban fantasy. I also loved that the protagonist was a necromancer. Necromancers are normally casted as antagonists so it was fresh to see this being turned on its head. I wish more background was given as to the whole history of the Necromancers and the Casters because I’m intrigued. Themes of friendship, sacrifice, thirst for power and corruption all arise in Cursed and in that respect, their world is very like our own. There is also the ever-present fight of ‘good’ against ‘evil’ and our heroine will have to navigate her world using not only her powers but her moral compass, sometimes forsaking what she is supposed to do as a necromancer for doing what is right in her eyes.
The ending was not as epic as I had hoped but I’m maybe a little too bloodthirsty. I love for the antagonists to pay and pay dearly; suffer in other words, no quick death. That being said though, I enjoyed Beholder: Cursed and I am eagerly looking forward to reading the sequel and to getting started on the other series by this author.
Beholder: Cursed is a promising start to a new series with a heroine to root for and a magical system and world that is interesting and different . I recommend it to urban fantasy/paranormal fantasy lovers.
About The Author
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English as well as Television, Radio, and Film Production. Her day job is in marketing for companies like Microsoft, Cisco, and Zerto. Back in the go-go 90′s, she founded her own software start-up, Mindful Technologies. Christina believes that, upon close examination of Tolkien’s text, it’s entirely possible that the Balrog was wearing fuzzy bunny slippers.