Book Review: When the Sea is Rising Red

Book Review: When the Sea is Rising RedWhen the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen
Published by Farrar Straus & Giroux (BYR) on February 28th 2012
Pages: 288

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.

I wasn't quite sure what to think of this book. It suggested mermaids from the cover, but definitely more sinister than the usual paranormal.

When the Sea is Rising Red blew me away. I was curious jumping into the book, as the world was described and the setting panned out as Felicita runs into town to buy a gift for her friend. Sadly, when she comes back she finds that her friend has killed herself so that she does not have to marry. Felicita faces the same fate and fakes her death so she can gain the freedom she desires. Only, how will she deal with not having magic at her fingertips, only being available through a fine powder that her elder brother controls.

Through sheer luck, she finds herself bunked with a couple of men and women, all loyal to Dash, a dashing character who turns up and manages to steal Felicita's heart over time. He knows who she is and what she can do, and together they must right a wrong – killings that have been happening to raise wild magic from the sea. Felicita must decide whether family or love is stronger and whether she can face what she must do.

Final Verdict:

Although, it took a while to gauge the world completely, I fell in love with the story, the setting and the utter darkness involved in this story. It is nice to see a darker paranormal that really feeds into everything within the book – setting, characters and plot. Definitely a standout novel for me, but probably not everyone's cup of tea.


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