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When the Sea Is Rising Red (Hobverse #1)
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When the Sea Is Rising Red (Books of Oreyn #1)

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  1,427 ratings  ·  301 reviews
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 Jann ...more
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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2012 Debut Authors (Young Adult & Middle Grade)
49th out of 1,001 books — 6,283 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Wendy Darling
What a weird, beautiful little book. Review to come.

This photo is for Kate, who shares my love of tea and Victoriana:

Disclosure first. I am Cat's boy/man/plaything.

Why 4 stars instead of 5? Well it appears that I don't quite understand goodreads, and have been using my own personal rating.

To me, a good book is worth 3 stars, an awesome book is 4. A book which I quite happily read over and over again is 5-stars... but 5-stars means very little as far as quality's concerned. If there're aeroplanes and flying, or King Arthur, then even if the book isn't that great, I still want to read it over and over again 'cau
Tamora Pierce
This is an amazing book about people trapped by their families and their societies, struggling to break free. The shadows are very dark, and the world building is fascinating, with no one exactly who they seem to be. I gave this one a cover quote last year, so you *know* I liked it!
Jillian -always aspiring-
(Actual Rating: 3.5 stars)

I love books that surprise me. That may seem a strange thing to write from the perspective that, ideally, all the books you read should surprise you in some way. Given that we don't live in a perfect world, though, every reader is bound to come across plots, characters, and ideas that come across as predictable or derivative to them. That's just the way things are.

However, When the Sea Is Rising Red, debut novel from Cat Hellisen, is far from predictable or derivative.
C Hellisen
Aug 29, 2012 C Hellisen marked it as i-wrote-this  ·  (Review from the author)
It was bugging me that it kept showing that "I WANT TO READ" button underneath it because let's be quite honest, I do not want to read it.

I've read it a thousand times (only a slight exaggeration). When the final copies arrived I couldn't even look at them. Haha.

This is not a review. In case that's, like, not immediately obvious.

But here, have a song, it's the closest thing to a soundtrack I had for this:

This book is 90% beautiful detailed moody atmospheric world-building and 10% very short very thin extremely basic plot to which the narrator is an incidental happenstance at best. Which is why I struggled with how many stars to give it—4 stars for world-building and 0 stars for plot and maybe like 0.5 stars for distant and indistinct characters. So I give the book on the whole 2 stars because it was an extremely unbalanced reading experience.

The worldbuilding was fleshed-out and immersive to the
Virgil Ovid Hawkins
This was a strange, dreamy, mesmerizing book, and I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to talk about it, but I’m going to do my darndest.

Talking is what Monicas do best, after all!

So normally, guys, normally when I find a novel with a cover this amazing, I am totally let down by the actual text.


It was written like… like… it was really, really well written, is what I’m trying to say.

Rin is lying stomach-down in the mud, one arm pillowing his cheek. His body is intact, strange
People do not seem to like this one too much so obviously I, contrary creature that I am, like it a lot. I liked how courageous the book and obviously it's author are to present something that is so very different than what is flooding the market nowadays. All books try to be different but ultimately conform to the standard. Ms. Hellison's novel, in my not so humble opinion, succeeds in not just being different but being different in a good way.

Felicita is a very likable protagonist and as a wo
First impressions: Fourteen pages. That's how long it took for this book to completely wow me. Cat Hellisen creates a beautifully unique world with full and vibrant characters that made it nearly impossible to put the book down.

Lasting impressions: There were a few moments that had me wailing, "Noooooo!" Despite some of the frustrations with the plot, I still found this to be a well-written and unique story.

Conflicting impressions: It always sucks when the love interest you want is not what you
If I was going to be completely rational about this book and base my review on content alone, it would probably be get four stars.
But because I was absolutely fascinated and entranced by it, I'm giving it five stars and all the love in the world.

It's a strange, haunting little book - more fantasy than supernatural. There are vampires in it, but it's not exclusively a vampire book. The world (which I must point out is wonderfully constructed) feels very old-fashioned but very natural and relatabl
Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead
I was at the hospital all morning getting all these funky tests done on my right hand (need surgery) and holding this book in my left hand (which is really hard to do- try flipping pages while holding a book without using your other hand- impossible). Long story short (my story-not the book), I really enjoyed this book. Obviously, I practically inhaled it.

Review coming in January.
When we first meet Felicita in When the Sea is Rising Red, she is a wealthy young girl stifled under the pressures of her caste. Felicita's best friend commits suicide escaping an arranged marriage and Felicita, bound for the same fate, fakes her death and runs to the Hob, filled with lower-caste individuals without magical ability. In Felicita's world, an addictive substance known as scriv is capable of unleashing the powers the Houses possess. Meanwhile, those of the lower caste systems must ...more
When her best friend, Ilven, plunges to her death to escape of life of patriarchal control and arranged marriage, Felicita realizes she must also escape her similar, imprisoning lifestyle. As a daughter of the ruling House of Pelim, she’s lived a privileged, sheltered life – her entire existence governed by the decisions of others. And so, Felicita fakes her death, disappears into the underworld of Pelimburg and takes a job as a dishwasher. Her life is humble, but she’s out from under the thumb ...more
c a t h e y
This book holds a strange, bleak and wonderful story. When the Sea is Rising Red took me completely by surprise. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't this. I would've given it three stars, but the prose was so delicate and beautiful that I had to give it four. A liberating read, where the romance wasn't clichéd: there wasn't a pure, beautiful girl waiting for her one and only Prince Charming. (view spoiler) ...more
Mar 20, 2012 E rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: not-a-fan
Also Found On: A Book and A Record

This book wasn't really my cup of tea, it was very well written and the plot was well established. It held with the same ideas through the entire thing and I felt that all of the characters were justly motivated I just didn't really like any of the characters.
Dash can basically be caught as a player from a mile away. He’s a drunkard and a drug addict that likes to sleep around, and while Jannix is quite devoted to Firell (Felicita) he is still a vampire, and pr
Different. the lead, her troubles, their world... taken together there's nothing quite like this, partly given how magic is wove into it; mostly for the world it's set in; and a little bit for the connections made.

The world will enthrall you. Her society is structured with the Houses, both high and low, plus those on the fringe. Each is governed by rules on what to do and why to do something. And in all that, there's Felicita- aware of what's expected and limited by it.

Not much is glossed over,
I dont know how but the author managed to write a sagas worth material in only one book.

Felicitas world falls apart when her brother breaks the news that her best friend Ilven had committed suicide. So she decides to start living her life the way she wants and not the way everyone expects her to, if she does she fears her life will end the same way as Ilvens.

She wants to run away from her already planned life and in order to do that she needs to fake her death. She just leaves a pair of boots an
Mar 28, 2012 Donna added it
Shelves: dnf, fantasy, young-adult
I wanted to like WHEN THE SEA IS RISING RED so bad I can't even tell you. Just read the premise. How does that NOT sound interesting? I was so intrigued by it that I really couldn't wait to read it. Unfortunately I got my expectations dashed, mainly because I obviously set them way too high. Maybe it's my fault. Or maybe I've genuinely run into another lackluster book. But here we go.

First impression, the voice was horribly pretentious and stilted and I immediately hated Felicita. Initially I be
Aug 22, 2012 Maria rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Maria by: Wendy Darling
Shelves: ya, fantasy, paranormal
I like When the Sea is Rising Red.


This book is so weird. Fortunately, I like weird. Having said that, When the Sea is Rising Red is not for everybody. and I meant that. I'm impressed with Hellisen because she is not afraid to tell a story that is a whole new level of different. So, the questions is: Are you bold enough to read this?

Felicita was stunned when her best friend Ilven committed suicide. When she realized she's facing the same situation that made Ilven jumped, she ran away after f
When I first started reading this for some reason I was under the impression that this was a Victorian Era novel. Which is halfway accurate, but I somehow missed the whole supernatural aspect. Not to worry though, still loved it.

Felicita is a member of the magical elite of Pelimburg, the city that was named after her esteemed family that has since fallen. She is a War-Singer meaning that she can control the very air around her to do her will, but since she is a girl she is only thought of to be
If I were to actually review this book and rate it, it'd be five stars. I absolutely adored this one. It's a quiet book and I love those ones. It's like having a secret that only a few handful of friends know. When The Sea is Rising Red reminds me of Cold Kiss, because they're both quiet and written gorgeously. And they both deal with death.

The characters in this book came to life, just like the world. I want to live in Pelimburg, it's that amazing. The entire Hobverse, as Cat Hellisen calls it
Exquisite world building. So effectively foreign and atmospheric yet real and immersive, in fact, that I almost didn't notice the female protagonist was involved in a love triangle with two boys, one of which happened to be a vampire. It almost felt like the publisher told Hellisen the story had to have those ingredients--love triangle, one girl two boys, vampire--for them to consider her book, so she included them as necessary then made them as unobtrusive and unimportant to the overall story a ...more
Beth Bernobich
Set in a world where fall-out from a magical war has changed the mundane into the magical—lions have become sphinxes, goats have changed into unicorns, and crocodiles are now dragons. That’s just one part. Another is the class divisions between the high-lammers, the low-lammers, the hobs, and the bats. Hellisen has built a rich and layered world that could be late 19th century England, except it’s so much more, with nooks and crannies that take you by surprise, scented and spiced with lyrical pr ...more
Nerine Dorman
I've walked with Cat from the start of this novel and to finally read the almost-finished project (I participated in her ARC-project) was utterly thrilling and spell-binding. Hellisen brings together the rich style of Jacqueline Carey with the magic and mystery of Neil Gaiman in a thoroughly intoxicating world. I wonder if Felicita knew what she'd go through during her journey whether she'd make that fateful decision to run away from her home. The world of Pelimburg is underpinned by social divi ...more
Willow Pallen
This is a goddamn sexy book and I was completely and utterly absorbed from the first paragraph. I could also smell the fishy air and taste the salt on my lips as Ms Hellisen is a magical master and drawing you into the world of her characters. LOVE LOVE LOVE! What more can I say but READ THIS BOOK and watch this author as I think she is going to be big.
Suzanne Rooyen
It has been a very long time since a book has enthralled me as this one did. I loved this story's dark fantasy world that was at once vivid and surreal. The writing transported me to Pelim so that I could feel the cold fingers of mist and smell the fishy miasma over the docks. This book also provided a much needed fresh and unique approach to vampires and vampire society. The melding together of so many different folklores made this a stand-out read for me and one to which I plan to return.

The c
When the Sea is Rising Red drops readers right in the middle of a rich fantasy world with magic, social, political hierarchies and relationship that are not bound by gender. In this world, the higher class or Lammars, retain power through their ability to do magic. But they require a powerful and addictive drug called scriv to do so. The lower Hob class has no magic but they are not without their drugs too. Then there are vampires and a whole host of other magical beings inhabiting this society. ...more
(a similar version of this review can be found here at Into the Hall of Books:

I started reading Cat Hellisen's When The Sea Is Rising Red and knew right away that I was going to love it. It was dark and a little creepy, yet imaginative and beautiful. Cat Hellisen was so luxuriously descriptive that I felt like I was right alongside Felicita in every scene.

So let's get to it. Why should this go on your Wish List?

1. The Main Characters. They're absolutel
This was the other book that I read during my Goodreads group's read-a-thon and it was by far my favourite read during it! I was incredibly drawn to the book for the cover, it's a little creepy but it's really awesome too, and it's one that I would love to have as a poster.

The story itself was extremely well written. I don't generally read fantasy novels that aren't set on regular old planet earth but this is one that was more out there in terms of the whole world building thing. Yes it takes pl
When the Sea is Rising Ded by Cat Hellisen is a deliciously dark fantasy that holds a plot so enticing that I couldn't put it down.

The world of Pelimburg was so expertly crafted. It was an enchanting world that I hope to see more of. It was the perfect host for a story of rebellion, magic, and escape. I do wish some aspects were explained a bit sooner, as it felt a bit too much like a puzzle at certain points of the book. I still wasn't entirely sure of some things by the time I had finished.

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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Aug 06, 2015 06:23PM  
African Science F...: Update and new book recommendation 2 23 Jan 05, 2015 04:58PM  
South African Boo...: When the Sea is Rising Red (Spoilers) 1 23 May 21, 2012 09:15AM  
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Presumably a person, occasionally a table.

I write stories.
More about Cat Hellisen...

Other Books in the Series

Books of Oreyn (2 books)
  • House of Sand and Secrets (Hobverse #2)

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“No matter what the results, it is my choices that define me. And I will fight for them, even when it seems that failure is inevitable. Perhaps most especially then.” 19 likes
“In the end, we make our choices on our own. And no matter how stupid they are, we have to live—or die—with what we’ve done. Sometimes choosing our moment of death is the only freedom we have left.” 12 likes
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