When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen

How did I get the book?  I bought it on recommendation from a friend.

Genre: Paranormal / Fantasy

First Impression: Different.

Synopsis: 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.

200words (or less) review: When the Sea is Rising Red is one of the few books I’ve read this year where I can honestly say it is unique. It’s also one of very few books where I’d wish it had been longer. There was so much that I thought, as a reader, I could have benefited from an extra 100 pages easy, if not more. Given how much I dislike drawn-out novels this wish is highly unusual, but I wanted to know the many characters better.

Cat Hellisen’s world building is seriously impressive, though I will admit at times a bit confusing. Everything/everyone in this book is there because it needs to be, every character has an important part to play. But there isn’t a lot of time to get to know them all. Esta for example, I’d have loved a chance to grow fond of her.

Overall though When the Sea is Rising Red remains one of the best debuts I’ve read this year, I think it’s a book that will need to be read more than once and I doubt that will be a problem for me.

Recommend it?


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