Athan hasn’t had it easy in life, but he’s managed to scrape by on his good looks, his charm, and by leaning on family friends. He has kept his hereditary power—the ability to rewind a reflection and see the recent past—secret all this time, heeding his grandmother’s warning that it is a curse not to be messed with or indulged. But the night of a penthouse party for New York’s elite art scene, he finds himself breaking that rule during a trip to the bathroom—and chaos erupts just outside the bathroom door. When he finally emerges, the massacre he discovers sends him down a path to uncovering a supernatural conspiracy among the New York elite and discovering what exactly is hiding behind the power he’s kept secret all his life.
If there is one thing I am certain about in life, it is that Ryan La Sala is going to write a book that chills you to the bone and keeps you guessing and enthralled throughout. The mood is set from the opening pages and you are well aware that things are not what they seem. The story jumps between Athan’s first person POV and a mysterious second person POV that makes you feel like you are experiencing everything alongside Athan.
I’m not really sure how to talk about this book without giving away any spoilers—it’s truly a wild ride that had me on the edge of my seat while still wanting to hide from the world lest Athan’s dangers became my own. La Sala has created a story that simultaneously frightens you away from looking in the mirror and forces you to take a long look in order to confront your inner demons and find yourself.
Despite how dark and twisty the story gets at times, the ending comes together in a beautiful way that evokes a teeny tiny sliver of hope, a reminder that we sometimes need to just get through the darkness in order to find the light. Was it the way that I had hoped the story would end? Not exactly, but it was exactly the ending that the story needed and I'm definitely not mad at it.
Be forewarned, elements of suicidal ideation are included in this story. If you or a loved one are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Take care of yourself while reading (or in choosing not to read).
BEHOLDER by Ryan La Sala is available now and you can pick up a copy here. Or, if you are an audiobook lover, I highly recommend the audiobook—the vibes are absolutely immaculate and it’s the perfect story to listen to when you want to get into the spooky mood.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will also be supporting indie bookstores like my local fave Linden Tree Books without whom this review would not be possible! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."