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SA Partridge

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

House of Sand and Secrets by Cat Hellisen

House of Sand and Secrets

Someone is killing vampires in MallenIve. Felicita of House Pelim has vowed to discover the truth. Her husband, Jannick, is a vampire and he has as much voice in the city as those dying of the black lung in the Hoblands. Felicita has little influence herself. As a woman, her role in society is little more than accessory. But she is also a War Singer, and if she ever let herself go, she could destroy them all.

House of Sand and Secrets is about the voiceless and Cat Hellisen has a knack for drawing out the ugly truth of our own reality and putting it out there for all to see.

There was a brief time when people thought I was one of the kitty-girls who work the streets of Pelimburg. People pretend you are not there. Their eyes slide past, because they do not like your reality intruding on their own.

In Hellisen’s Hobverse, men are in charge. Women are viewed as simple, emotional creatures that can’t be trusted with important decisions. Vampires too, face the chilling fate of being reclassified as animals. They may look human, but that isn’t enough for those in power who wish to control their movements.

What are we but a false set of laws laid over a wild land? We hope to tame it, but what we can’t tame we destroy.

Hellisen paints a convincing picture of the reality and insanity of oppression, from the hard life of those serving in the rookeries to the high-society wives suffering in silence inside their gilded cages. MallenIve is pot about to boil over and that gives this novel a richness few books are able to achieve.

5 reasons why you should read this book:
1. It’s written beautifully with a light, lyrical hand
2. The setting is incredibly rich and visual
3. The parallels with the real world are chilling
4. Hellisen’s take on vampires is unique and fresh
5. The Hobverse may be fantastical, but the South African references make this look 100% local and lekker


Buy it here.


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