Shannon Kitchens's Reviews > When the Sea Is Rising Red

When the Sea Is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen
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's review
Apr 25, 12

bookshelves: top-picks-of-2012, ya-reads-for-non-ya-readers, steampunk, horror
Read from April 22 to 25, 2012

I'm really struggling with whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars. It's a really interesting book, with some major flaw, but I've decided that it derserves a 4 for creativity.

What works:
Voice, Setting, and Lenght.

What doesn't work:
Pacing, Lenght, a slightly confusing ending, and the cover

Bonus Points:
Vampries, sex, and drug addiction.

There is also a bit of oddness with some of the characterizations, but I don't know if it's a fatal flaw.

So the good parts:

Hellisen throws us into this reall interesting magic, steampunk-esque, gothic world where magic is a lesser force, often uncontrolled or dealing with drug addiction. There are magical creatures that are remarkable mundane. There's all sorts of interesting slag and class systems, all of which are thrown in your face with a pick it up as you go attitude. (I love when books choose this method over the info dump.)

Throughout the novel, Felicita narrators with a unique voice that vaguely reminds me of a cottony accent. It's clear and distictive. Sometimes I feel that it is a bit to venacular, but that has more to do with the character than the writing style.

I also appreciate (greatly) that this book clocks in at just under 300 pages, and, even with the heavy voice, is easy to read.

Bonus points:

I loved the depiction of vampires, derogatorily called "bats." They a combination of various vampire myths, that somehow really worked for me. I really really enjoyed them from the moment they were introduced.

There is an interesting portrayal of sex and drugs. They felt dilberately used for interesting results. There's a natural feel to the sex in the book (which is quite minimal, and by not graphic), and it makes Felicita more relatable to me as an average girl. Then there is the use of "Scriv" which is a negative and a positive, and I wonder is more a metaphor for perscriptions rather than narcotics.

AND there's a few positive portrayals of homosexual relationships that I quite enjoyed. Though I didn't get the love triangle I wanted. (view spoiler)

The not quite negative:

Felicitia is by no means a particularly "likeable" character. I found her to be believable, as a naieve girl a privalge running off to the slums. She never grated on my nerves either. But I can see where she might annoy others. Plus, there's Dash, who is just horrible - but reminds me a bit of my 1st boyfriend. Entracing and deciving.

The negative:

I want to nominate this book for the worst cover award. This is a particularly unappealing gray, dingy cover, that eyes pass right over. Though I get the symbolism after I started the book, nothing about this covers shows about the rich and gothic world that Hellisen creates. Even the title looks crummy on this cover.

There are about 75 pages of this book that drags. Not much happens, and it feels like the author is dragging out story to keep it long enough for the publisher. So this goes with the lenght, if that 75 pages would have been cut down to say, oh, 20, I think the novel would have greatly improved.

The novel takes place over like a week, which is an absurdly short time. It feels like it takes place over a few months, and it should have. I'm not sure why the week time frame, other than that's how many actual days we get from the book. A few "for the next couple weeks," and I would have bought everything that happened and all the character changes with ease.

The ending is a bit confusing. It doesn't come out of nowhere, but there's not enough plants in the beginning to make it clear. Actually, I'm still a little confused with exactly what happened and why.

Still, overall, it's a really good, Mature, book that I plan on recommending should anyone ask.

PS - it reminds me a lot of Poison Study, except better.

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Reading Progress

04/22/2012 page 69
04/24/2012 page 202
68.0% "Is this really going to have an interesting, unexpected love triangle? I hope so."
04/24/2012 page 242
82.0% "No unexpected love triangle...sadly."
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Comments (showing 1-3)

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message 3: by C (new) - added it

C Hellisen Hi. I know it's not the done thing for authors to comment on reviews but I *LOVED* that you got this: "Then there is the use of "Scriv" which is a negative and a positive, and I wonder is more a metaphor for perscriptions rather than narcotics. " which I don't think anyone else has picked up on yet.

I was trying to contrast her view of her addiction with her view of the Hobs' addiction to 'ink, and the hypocrisy of it - I was thinking of how people on something like valium or sleeping pills will see themselves as above other addicts because theirs is a legal addiction.

Anyway, sorry to comment on your review, but that observation just made me happy.

Shannon Kitchens Thanks for the commet! Actually made my morning waking up and seeing this. I thought of perscriptions because of the way Felicita went through withdrawls reminded me a lot of going through antidepressant withdrawls. The class status also made me think of perscriptions since most lower class citizens can't afford them.

message 1: by C (new) - added it

C Hellisen Yay, glad I didn't offend you by posting. Thanks for reading and reviewing. :)

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