THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by TJ Klune – double review!

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/Micky
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. **


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Warm and whimsical
THE most endearing found family
Hurt and healing

Well, I didn’t know much going into this other than various friends’ love for the book and this review isn’t going to enlighten you. It’s going to be more of a feels than a plot review.

This is a totally character-driven story with a very engaging plot in the background but as a reader, all eyes were on the characters. From Linus, awkward and formal to my favourites Sal and Chauncey. Almost every character was special and sneak-stole my heart. It was a story about the unwanted being wanted and it had political and governmental tones. There were important themes that resonate.

He was but paper, brittle and thin, and he clutched the photograph to his chest, hugging it close.

This was a warm tale, full of whimsy and delightful magic. I got lost in the story and really enjoyed the experience. It made my eyeballs leak a little and I experienced that fuzzy feeling on ending.

*side note*
I read this book after the stories of the heinous maltreatment and murder of indigenous children in Canada broke and so I entered this story with trepidation. In the early reading of the story, I saw a few uncomfortable parallels but I was able to sink into the story. However, I am not suggesting you forget the premise foundation for this story which is based in some reality, go out there and educate yourself as I intend to do further. My book bestie suggests this read as a starting place 21 Things You Might Not Know About The Indian Act.

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