A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.
Title : The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author : TJ Klune
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : LGBTQIA+ fantasy
Publisher : Tor Books
Release Date : March 17, 2020
Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5
Hollis’ 4.5 star review
This book was a delightfully sweet and lovely cup of heartbreak, melancholy, and wonder. Which sounds almost awful, or hella sad, and probably contradicts the vibe the cover is putting out, but I don’t know how else to describe all the things this made me feel.
There is whimsy and wonder in this world where magical people exists, there’s melancholy in the reality that children who demonstrate these abilities are sequestered in orphanages and regulated schools or programs, monitored by the government with caseworkers who ensure their safety and well-being, and there’s sweetness in the particular caseworker we follow, Linus; a round middle-aged man believed to be wholly unremarkable, friendless but for his cat, who is in fact so much of the opposite.
“I’m afraid I don’t have magic.”
“You do, Mr. Baker. Arthur told me that there can be magic in the ordinary.”
There were so many moments that had me a hair’s breadth away from crying. I welled up, swallowing hard, like.. six times? Probably more. At one point I was almost wrecked by a bloody button. And then, of course, there was a moment near the end where I just let go. Had my cry. I own it. The emotion Klune packs into his writing resonates so strongly and hits even harder because of the children in this story. Sal, in particular, just.. wow, yeah, I have no words.
Like Linus, it is impossible to remain impartial in the face of these children who were unwanted, unloved, or deemed too dangerous, too unique, to be anywhere else but this little island, far away from others. Through the narrative, Klune challenges prejudice, racism, and mob mentality, and does it beautifully. This is the perfect story for our time, our current climate, and it’s delightfully unique because of the circumstances and the rare collection of gems that are these atypical characters. Truly, the creativity of this story is something else.
I loved this book so much. For all the heavier topics and bittersweetness of it all, this was a lot of fun, too. It’s silly, weird, and delightfully charming, full of emotion and hope and love.
I definitely recommend.
** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **