Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: 'When the Sea is Rising Red' by Cat Hellisen

Cat Hellisen has created a fascinating world where magic is reserved for the highest Houses and a single choice can destroy a city.

When her best friend takes the Leap rather than agree to an arranged marriage, Felicita Pelim is spurred into running from her oppressive, aristocratic life – driven to do something.  Circumstances bring Felicita into contact with the mysterious Dash and his rag-tag band of misfits who help Felicita survive her harsh new reality.  Dark magic is rising from the sea bringing pale, translucent bodies and the Red Death, foretelling the rise of a seawitch.  Felicita’s goal is to change her fate, to find freedom and she believes Dash can help her, but prejudice runs deep in the city and Dash has his own agenda – one that could endanger everyone.
When the Sea is Rising Red makes some large promise in the book description and with the cover art, but is unable to completely live up to the buzz.  This novel’s strength is the world – it is fully realized, wonderfully detailed and brought to life in a way that brings the reader fully into the story.  Unfortunately the characters themselves and the plotting leave something to be desired.  Felicita is by turns sympathetic and annoying.  Dash comes across as a conman who the reader never really relates to and secondary characters, who could honestly be the more interesting people, are given cursory parts in the story.  Worth reading but somewhat unsatisfying.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars
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