Sunday, April 14, 2013

REVIEW: The Beholder / Ivan Amberlake

TITLE: The Beholder
AUTHOR: Ivan Amberlake
PUBLISHER: Breakwater Harbor Books
AVAILABILITY: Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon US (paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle e-book), Amazon UK (paperback)
APPROXIMATE LENGTH: 188 pages




GENRE
Fantasy—Urban Fantasy

PACE
The Beholder opens with a mystery and maintains a fairly quick pace throughout the opening section. It slows down around the middle to allow the reader time to absorb the story’s fantastical premise, then picks up speed toward the end.

PERSPECTIVE
Third person limited. The majority of the book is written from the point of view of Jason, the protagonist, although there are sections that shift to other perspectives.

CONTENT REVIEW
In present day New York, Jason, an ordinary man with an office job at an interior design firm, learns that his nightmares are more than just bad dreams. In them, he sees a man of great evil, Pariah, pursuing a young woman with amber eyes. Both disturbed and intrigued, he soon finds out that the dreams are in fact supernatural visions, a glimpse into a supernatural world of light and dark energies.

Meanwhile, Jason hears reports of people around the world dying under mysterious circumstances. Each body is left branded with an arcane symbol. After realizing the bodies are a riddle addressed to him, Jason encounters the amber-eyed woman, Emily, who tells him that he possesses dormant abilities of great power. In addition, he may be the only person who can keep darkness from enslaving the world.

The Beholder is an imaginative urban fantasy that takes a reader into a captivating world of magic and mystery. Amberlake weaves his world in vibrant images, wrapping each scene in colorful descriptions that make the story easy to visualize. The reader follows Jason as this world is slowly revealed to him. The supernatural elements, such as Sight and Soulfusion, are well explained, as the reader learns what Jason learns.

There’s an ebb and flow to the pace of The Beholder, which works well for its story line. It draws you in by setting up the mystery at the very beginning, then slows down to let you look around. The action scenes, each a vividly portrayed fight between good and evil, are exciting and thrilling, and it’s easy to get lost in the language. Jason is a likable protagonist who’s easy to sympathize with, especially since Amberlake lays out his internal thoughts, allowing the reader to see what he sees, feel what he feels. Some chapters are written from the perspectives of other characters, giving the reader a 360 degree view of the story.

While the plot of The Beholder focuses on the supernatural battle between good and evil, Amberlake highlights the human element of the struggle through his characterizations and relationships. As Jason follows Emily into the realm of the Sighted, he also finds himself falling for her, which adds an element of romance to the story. It also ups the personal stakes for Jason as he heads toward the book’s climatic battle. In addition, Jason’s close friends, Matt and Debbie, end up getting involved, and so by the end, Jason is fighting not only for humanity, but for those he cares about most.

Amberlake writes with a poetic lilt, bringing his story to life through intricate language. For instance, here’s a description from early in the book:

“[Jason] burst through the revolving doors and into the outdoors, and ran into a nearly solid wall of heat. Even in the shade of the skyscrapers, he found it difficult to breathe. He paced, restless. Needing to walk off some of his anger, he thrust his hands in his pockets, then started roaming the streets, weaving through the rush hour crowd.”

Well written and wonderfully inventive, The Beholder is a highly entertaining book and a relatively fast read. The supernatural concept at the center of the story is unique, intriguing, and leaves you wanting more.

THE NITPICKY STUFF
There are a few small errors, but nothing distracting.

AUTHOR INFO
[From the author’s Amazon page]
Ivan Amberlake is an urban fantasy writer, member of Breakwater Harbor Books. In December 2009 he began writing his first novel "The Beholder" and in November 2011 it was selected for review by HarperCollins on Authonomy.com.

Ivan Amberlake is in the process of writing Book Two of The Beholder Series called "Path of the Heretic" and a Young Adult Horror/Fantasy called "Diary of the Gone".

For more information visit www.breakwaterharborbooks.weebly.com and www.ivanamberlake.weebly.com

1 comment:

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