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Monday, May 14, 2012

When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen

When the Sea is Rising Red


After seventeen-year-old Felicita’s dearest friend, Ilven, kills herself to escape an arranged marriage, Felicita chooses freedom over privilege. She fakes her own death and leaves her sheltered life as one of Pelimburg’s magical elite behind. Living in the slums, scrubbing dishes for a living, she falls for charismatic Dash while also becoming fascinated with vampire Jannik. Then something shocking washes up on the beach: Ilven's death has called out of the sea a dangerous, wild magic. Felicita must decide whether her loyalties lie with the family she abandoned . . . or with those who would twist this dark power to destroy Pelimburg's caste system, and the whole city along with it. 
Summary taken from
Length: 296 pages (Hardcover)
Publication Date: February 28th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)         

This was the other book that I read during my Goodreads group's read-a-thon and it was by far my favourite read during it! I was incredibly drawn to the book for the cover, it's a little creepy but it's really awesome too, and it's one that I would love to have as a poster.

The story itself was extremely well written. I don't generally read fantasy novels that aren't set on regular old planet earth but this is one that was more out there in terms of the whole world building thing. Yes it takes place on earth but it's a fantastical Earth.

I really enjoyed the way that the author laid the whole story out. The novel had bits of mystery, suspense and fantasy (paranormal) all rolled up into one superbly written novel. Since the book is still relatively new I'm going to try and refrain from posting any spoilers so I will just be reviewing the book as a whole, rather than ripping it a part in order to review it.

I think that Cat Hellisen is a great new emerging talent in the writing world and she's South African (I'm half South African) and we share the same birthday (May 31st) though we're 13 years apart. I personally think that there are so many South African writers that deserve recognition but because they aren't from the U.S. they often don't get the widespread audience that they should but I'm happy to see that this book was picked up by a major publishing company because it is absolutely worth the read.

Felicita was a great female character who while she was scared, she found an inner strength in the face of the adversity she had to endure. I like how she evolved from a stuck up elitist teenager to one that is more humble even though she had to face the world alone for the most part. Several times during the book I felt sorry for her given the certain circumstances occurring at the time and place in the book.

I think the thing that I liked most about Felicta's story was that her story was very much a coming of age story where a girl makes drastic changes by abandoning her previous life, going through the regular teenage things such as love, and betrayal as well as some few not so regular teenage things as well.

This book was a fantastic fantasy read with a great female character who while she had moments where I wanted to shake her and say "NO DON'T DO THAT" I really liked her and the saddest part for me in finishing the book was that it's a stand alone as far as I know, which sucks since the way Cat finished the book left it open ended for a sequel (If you are Cat Hellisen and you're reading this PLEASE bring Felicita back).  As I said before, the author has an incredible gift for writing and I hope that she continues writing because she may just have a life long fan over here and even though I already read the book I'm going to be buying myself a copy of it just so I can re-read it. It was that damn good.

I would have no problem recommending this book to anyone, but I think that if you really like YA Fantasy novels that this one should be put on your TBR lists. The story is great, the plot is intriguing and the characters are interesting. I for one am but this on my top 100 favourite books list and it's one of my favourites this year.

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A Must Read!


  1. I definitely love the cover too. Very cool. Great review. Makes me want to check out this book

  2. I love this review of When The Sea is Rising Red! I have a copy, just haven't read it yet. I love talking to Cat, though, as she's the best. :D have you read the short story, Mother, Crone, Maiden? it's rather amazing. I loved it.

  3. Ooh, so jealous! Loved your review. You are half South African! Now, that is interesting. :) And you share your birthday with the author! What a coincidence.

    Going by your review, I think I will have to pick this one up soon. Though I am not much into fantasy and no-Earth books but as you said, this is one of a different kind. :)

  4. I love the cover! It sounds so creepy, but at the same time so interesting!

    Great review! :)


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