15 April 2012
Review: When The Sea Is Rising Red - Cat Hellisen
Hardcover: 296 Pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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 guess the problem was that I expected too much of When The Sea Is Rising Red. The book description makes this novel sounds as something fresh and unique yet even though it was different in many ways, it doesn't mean that all differences are good. I read it in two days, so it does have a lot of action and mystery that makes you want to keep reading but it wasn't as enthralling as I was expecting it to be. And I was actually expecting to be more of a paranormal novel, but actually it was rather a novel with paranormal aspects.
Felicita belongs to one of the ruling houses in Pelimburg, which means that she can perform magic as long as she has access to one specific drug. There are three types of magic: the ability to read people’s emotions, the ability to see the future, and the ability to manipulate air molecules. Felicita has the last ability. When her best friend, Ilven, kills herself Felicita is even more alone. But when Felicita's brother wants her to marry an old but rich high Lammer, she fakes her own death to try to live her life the way she wants to.
When she escaped her old life, she ended up in the middle of the lower class. She finds a home with Dash and others who seem to be keeping a secret. Dash plans to take revenge on the high houses for killing his sister and while Felicita doesn't know it yet, she will play a crucial role in his plan. It actually really lucky and a big coincidence that Felicita with her special ability ended up living with Dash (this bit disappointed me a bit since without Felicita his plan wouldn't have worked, but how would he have known that she would end up with him?)
Felicita was not an appealing character. Actually none of them were. Felicita being a spoiled rich child, doesn't know how to behave with the low class. Even though she starts to work and tries to resemble the others, somehow I found her to be so conceited. Nara, a girl who also lives with Dash, was the nicest one for me; for she tries to please everyone and is always happy. Dash was a weird character; he really was charming and all but I couldn't relate to him at all and I wanted to know more about him and his past. And the vampire Jannik was my preferable love interest and yet Felicita treats him badly even though he may be one of her only friends. One thing that bothered me was that each character's stories were so badly-described and they appeared completely out of the blue.
The story has its appeal. If it wasn't for it, I don't think I would have finished this novel. The story has a rather slow pace but there are many mysteries that keep you hooked on the story and making you wait rather impatiently to know how everything will play out. Felicita does get better towards the end but still not my favorite heroine. The ending was how I wanted it to be but somehow quite disappointing; for I was expecting to be out of love than out of need. (I know that may sound a bit weird but if you read the book, you will know what I'm talking about!)
When The Sea Is Rising Red could have been a lot better. Magic could have played a bigger part in the story and the characters could have been more appealing. The story though keeps you somewhat enthralled and awaiting for the next developments. The story certainly has its uniqueness but it was not that well-developed. The writing was actually really nice and had a historical feel to it. I did enjoy reading it and I hope that if you read it too, you will enjoy it!