House of Sand and Secrets – Cat Hellisen
Felicita has arranged her own marriage, thinking that will make life bearable, but when it’s marriage to a vampire, in a city rife with prejudice, it comes with its own set of consequences. While dark political forces are at work, Felicita has to struggle to keep herself, and the man she married, safe. Matters of the heart can wait. Or can they?
I was pleasantly surprised by When the Sea is Rising Red (the first Book of Oreyn) because it was so different from other books I’ve read in the genre. House of Sand and Secrets is set in the same world, but the atmosphere, to me, is much darker – and once again I found myself surprised. Hellisen doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable themes and once you realise this you know there’s nowhere this story will be afraid to go.
I really did love it. I whizzed through it in 3 days. Compared to When the Sea is Rising Red, it felt shorter and slightly less meaty, you encounter fewer characters and there are fewer twists and turns in the narrative. However, it’s the kind of story – and world – that haunts you long after you put the book down.
I think that readers approaching this novel thinking they will find a run-of-the-mill fantasy romance would probably be disappointed, but for me the world-building, human rights issues and rich descriptions have earned it a permanent place on my bookshelf. I can’t wait for the next one!