She’s not here.

I hunch deeper into the protection of a small copse of stunted blackbarks. Condensed mist drips down the dark leaves and soaks my shawl.

Come on, Ilven. As if I could force her to appear by the power of thought.

Across the close-cropped lawn, House Malker’s gray stone face waits, a patient prison. In just a few days Ilven’s family will ship her off up-river to some Samar wine farmer, and today is the last chance we have to be alone together.

Mother won’t miss me for ages yet–I can risk waiting a few moments more for Ilven to show. My stomach churns. I hope that no servants saw me leave and that my mother is still at her writing desk, engaged in scribbling long missives to her beloved son, Owen. So beloved, in fact, that he never bothers to leave his town house to see her.

Mother’s schedule is narrow and predictable. Like all the women in the High Houses, her life is ruled by a list of acceptable and appropriate behaviours, all of them dictated to her by men.

Excerpt copyright © 2012 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.

What people are saying:

“Dark, perilous, haunted. Death surrounds this courageous female hero. I couldn’t stop reading, not when I had to know more so badly!”–Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author of the Beka Cooper trilogy

When the Sea is Rising Red is a moody, atmospheric tale characterized by a creeping sense of dread that makes for a compelling read.”–Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the Kushiel’s Legacy series

“In this smart, subtle fantasy reminiscent of Charles de Lint or Emma Bull, dreamy prose and exquisite world-building move the reader toward a powerful and fitting conclusion.”–Rae Carson, author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns

“Rich in atmosphere and romance, When the Sea is Rising Red is a compelling tale of magic, friendship, and rebellion. A stunning debut!”–Suzanne Young, author of A Need So Beautiful

Released: February 28, 2012

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. Visit her at