See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!There are books out there that are so creepy/strange that they drive some readers away and draw in others who want to bask in its strange beauty. When the Sea is Rising Red is one of those books and I am one of the readers happily basking in it. The novel may have its issues with pacing and clarity, I enjoyed it. This is no paranormal love story, people. Ignore that jacket copy!Felicita isn't the best person--she's rather spoiled and prejudiced and sometimes childlike--but I loved to read about her and her three-dimensional personality was appreciated in all its strengths and flaws. Her narrative voice is often understated and sometimes poetic. The class warfare going on, gaining strength over the course of the novel, is well-developed. Both sides are right and wrong at the same time, shades of gray in a dreary, miserable world that Hellisen's prose brings to life. The romances are no passionate affairs with declarations of love flying around; One of them is... I don't even know what Felicita's relationship with Dash is based in, but what she develops with Jannik evolves mostly out of mutual needs being together would meet.Hellisen's world of Lammers, Hobs, boggerts, and scriv-magic are never really explained; they simply are, and whether or not you can just go with it is the detail that will make or break a novel for a reader. Such sink-or-swim worldbuilding approaches often lead to some confusion on my part and I admit, I still don't understand everything that happened. If the novel had been a little more clear, that would have been great, but that didn't keep me from enjoying this unusual world and all its imperfect inhabitants.While I ended up reading roughly seventy-five percent of the book in one day, it is not well-paced. After Felicita's quiet escape from her prison-like home and induction into Dash's house of misfits, the plot becomes thin and ambles around. Despite how much of the novel I read in one day, I regularly stopped reading, drifted off to do something else, and then came back to it. Not quite as impressive as sitting down and reading it all at once, is it?And I suppose one more disappointing element is that while a minor theme of the novel is Felicita (and Ilven in a way, since her suicide appears to be motivated by her desire to escape an arranged marriage) escaping the power men have over her, she still ends up being controlled by a man. Almost every measure of freedom she receives from the beginning of the novel to the end is given to her with the help of a man. Even when she thinks she has finally escaped the power of men, she really hasn't, and that just makes me sad.I can happily recommend this novel for all the other readers out there who like strange books, but whether or not one should read the prequel story Mother, Crone, Maiden (which stars Ilven, who kills herself early in the novel for reasons the prequel story reveals) with it is debatable. It left a bad taste in my mouth regarding Ilven and negatively affected my experience with the novel I wish I'd never read the prequel.