ARC Review: When The Sea Is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen
Book: When The Sea Is Rising Red
Author: Cat Hellisen
Release: February 2012
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble
In sixteen-year-old Felicita’s world, magic is strictly controlled—or so those in power like to believe. After her 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.
This was one of the most interestingly different books I have read. It took me a really long time to get into the story but I was never bored with it, just puzzled and intrigued. Reading this book was felt like being inside someone else’s dream. I was hoping to be instantly enthralled, and that did not happen. In fact, it was probably half way through the story that I really felt connected to the adventure. Over all, this was a satisfying reading experience that has given me lots to ponder, but it wasn’t easy getting there…I had to work for it.
I would put this author’s work in the category of Gregory MaGuire or Erick Setiawan’s style of writing. She paints such an immensely fascinating and creative world but a world that isn’t instantly identifiable or understood. I felt like a tourist in a foreign country at first because I was lost. Despite my unfamiliar feelings, it was easy for me to paint vivid mental pictures of the characters and their world. I could close my eyes and see the faces of the characters and watch their story unfold in my mind beautifully, but understanding everything wasn’t as easy.
The characters and their dynamics were very interesting and though the author answered many questions, she left the motivations of her characters up to the reader to determine. Hellisen has written a unique story that is a blend of old folklore, mythology, fantasy and her own personal style and the result is intellectually stimulating…it is something I wasn’t prepared for, but I am longing for more! I do however feel that this may be over the head’s of some of the young adult audience…actually, it may be over the head’s of some adult audience for that matter. For readers that may prefer more of a “fast food” or “instant gratification” style of book, this book may not meet their fancy but I encourage everyone to see for themselves.