Tuesday, June 12, 2012

When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen

About the Book

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.


This is the type of book that awakens the myths your grandmother once told you of boggarts, sea witches and silkies. It’s the fine web of reality and tale, that shoved you in the direction to read more and discover new worlds like Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree series or Roald Dahl’s Witches, The BFG and James and the Giant Peach; all great tales that captivate a wide-eyed youth.  

It was stories like this (and The Phantom of the Opera) that my Gran would weave together for us before bedtime and Cat Hellisen has brought it to book form. A story merged with the scriv-addicted High Lammers (the Rich) and the Hobs (the poor), mixed with a touch of fairy tale and an amazing character base.

It’s difficult to find great YA with every aunt and their dog writing vampires and angels. A prince and the pauper tale of a High Lammer (Felicita) who fakes her own death when her friend Ilven commits suicide to avoid an arranged marriage and takes up a fake identity working as a tea girl on Whelk Street. She falls for the dashing Dash (excuse the Pun) and ends up crossing paths with ‘bat’ Jannik (A vampire). It is only when whispers of revolution ripples through the town when dead bodies start popping up on the beach. An omen in this town, one where sea witches rise from the depths and silkies lure men into the open blue.

Cat Hellisen gives her characters realism in fiction. Each have their own dark horrors to battle with, from being a ‘bats’ donor for money to having murdered a parent. She deals with themes of prostitution, hard labour and sordid streets where wheeling and dealing rule the economy. An ripples of Oliver Twist where Dash is The Artful Dodger and Felicita: Oliver.

It has your usual love triangle, your vampire and magic but where we other YA novels cannot match Ms Hellisen (A Captonian) is the intrigue of mystic tales, omens and a re-write of the usual; she is a witch of the written word, she coaxes vampires and Hobs into a pot and stirs them together ...

A great story of one girl figuring out that the future before her isn’t what she wants and she goes off to find a new one and finds out that she is stronger than the name of her house. It’s a great story!


About the Author

Cat Hellisen is an author of fantasy for adults and young adults. Born in 1977 in Cape Town, South Africa, she has also lived in Johannesburg, Knysna, and Nottingham.

Find the Author


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