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Riding The Crimson Wave

Forever Young Adult Presents: A review of When The Sea Is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen

Riding The Crimson Wave

BOOK REPORT for When The Sea Is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen

Cover Story: Emo Gross
BFF Charm: Eventually
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: What The Gris
Bonus Factors: World Building, LGBTQ
Relationship Status: Wild One Night Stand

Cover Story: Emo Gross

I have to give pants to this cover for featuring the entire body of a girl AND for somewhat-relating to the book. On the other hand, it kind of looks like something from an Evanescence photo shoot. And the idea of laying in that nasty water and mud is G to the ROSS, although obvs that girl is supposed to be dead, so I guess she doesn't care about the fact that her cute little gray dress is RUINED.

The Deal:

You know how, when you're watching Downton Abbey, sometimes it's hard to feel bad for the Earl's daughters? Because, like, ok, they may not be able to inherit BUT they live in a sprawling British estate with servants and endless tea delicacies and THEY'LL BE FINE. Well, that's kinda how I felt about Felicita, at least at the beginning. See, she's grown up in the House of Pelim, the most powerful family in town (as evidenced by the fact that the town is named Pelimburg), and she wears nice dresses and goes to fancy parties and learns a little about how to use scriv, a drug that unleashes her magic. How bad can her life be? But then she finds out that Ilven, her bestie, has killed herself to escape a dreaded arranged marriage. AND Felicita's brother, Owen, holds all the power in the family and happens to be a huge dick. So I can totally understand why Felicita decides to run away and create a new life for herself amidst the town's working class poor, known as Hobs. It's a tough, dirty world, but Felicita finds hope in the charismatic criminal/revolutionary, Dash, and distraction in the form of Jannik, an eccentric vampire. But change is coming to Pelimburg, and whether it's political upheaval or magical warfare, Felicita may not be prepared for the consequences.

BFF Charm: Eventually

Given her background, it's no surprise that Felicita is incredibly naive and makes some really idiotic choices early in the book. Sure, she can move water with her mind, but I'll take common sense over magic any day. (Unless, of course, that magic could transform me into a millionaire with Timothy Olyphant as my husband. Then WHO NEEDS COMMON SENSE?) But, I had to remind myself that she's a teenager, so when she dug herself into bad situations or acted without thinking, she was just, well, doing what teenagers do. And unlike some of the people I went to high school with, Felicita grew as a person after every mistake she made, so by the end, she was the kind of brave, compassionate and determined gal I'd be happy to include in my Bestie Squad.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

I consider myself an expert in swoon analysis, but this book definitely stumped me. On one hand, we have Dash, an incredibly charming hooligan with just the right mix of mysterious and dangerous. He's arrogant (which is hot), but he cares about his ragtag collection of Hob friends (also hot), and his physical interactions with Felicita can be filed under "S" for SIZZLING. But then there's Jannik the vampire, who is intriguing, if a bit emo for my taste. But I had a tough time telling where Jannik fit in the love triangle, because there were times I thought he was into Dash and then times he seemed into Felicita. Basically, none of the romance in this book is typical, which I found to be both bewildering and refreshing.

Talky Talk: What The Gris

Cat Hellisen obviously subscribes to the Tolkien School of Making Up Names And Shizz, but fortunately, she keeps her descriptions short and sweet. It took me a while to understand and adjust to all of the jargon, and while some of the lingo transported me into Felicita's world, some of it yanked me right out. (Like, every time I read the word "Hob" I just pictured Greasy Sae.) Maybe I've killed too many brain cells with alcohol, but I sometimes felt overwhelmed by the slew of characters and concepts, and I wasn't always sure what exactly was happening. Overall, though, Hellisen keeps up a good pace, and she's great at slowly building a delicious sense of foreboding that will keep you turning the pages.

Bonus Factor: World Building

Even though my cocktail-addled brain occasionally got confused, I was still super impressed by the creativity of Hellisen's vision. She even managed to make vampires into something I found interesting! That's like a major feat, you guys! From the politics of Pelimburg to the varieties of magic (one character can unleash nightmares by letting down her hair, WHAT!) to the haunting legends of the sea, Hellisen's world felt fascinating and incredibly real.

Bonus Factor: LGBTQ

When it comes to sexuality, there don't seem to be any norms in Pelimburg, which is pretty awesome. Even better, Hellisen weaves these relationships into the story naturally, instead of being all, "Look! I put lesbians in my book! GIVE ME AN AWARD."

Casting Call:

Emma Roberts as Felicita

Thomas McDonell as Dash

Tom Felton as Jannik

Relationship Status: Wild One Night Stand

This book definitely gave me a night to remember. It took me to some CRAZY places I'd never heard of before, and we had some awesome adventures together. Some of the details are fuzzy, but that's always the sign of a good night, right? Unlike Nick and Norah, I don't see us staying together after our evening of insane hijinks, but I definitely don't regret the time I spent with this wild, weird and unpredictable book.

FTC FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my review copy from Macmillan. I received neither money nor cocktails for this review (damnit!). When The Sea Is Rising Red is available now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).