THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA
Written by TJ Klune
Published by Tor Books, March 17th, 2020
My star rating – 4 stars
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. Find it on Goodreads
This was really interesting! No, really! I had some mixed feelings while I was in the middle of reading it. There were things I loved and things I didn’t love so much. In the end though, the more I say with this book, the more I realized just how much I liked it and how much it warmed my cold dead heart lol!
When I read the first few chapters, I got this odd feeling of deja vu. It felt familiar somehow and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I actually sat there staring at the cover hoping that this feeling of familiarity would just pop into my head. The writing seemed like something I had read before and it was driving me literally insane! Around the 75 page mark I had one of those weird “AHA!” moments where it all fell into place. The writing style totally reminded me of Roald Dahl!! That is if Roald Dahl wrote a book about an island of magical children but from the perspective of a responsible adult lol. The writing style had a certain whimsy to it. It was soft and magical, yet over the top and impactful. There was a group of people that oversaw the magical children and they were called “extremely upper management”….. that’s such a Roald Dahl thing to say lol.
The characters in this book were absolutely stunning! We follow our main character Linus who works for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s a very “by the book” man who follows the government issued Rules and Regulations book to a T. He understands that in order to perform his job properly, he needs to visit the orphanages of these children without getting attached. He always has the kids well being at the fore front of his mind but he doesn’t strike up relationships or look past the paper work. He also does his job knowing that there’s a department for everything. He does his part, hands in his reports, and then expects the other departments to do their job and finish what needs to be done. Outside of his job he’s happy. He has his own home, a cat, monogrammed PJ’s, and his record collection. He’s content with the small pleasures in life. But when he’s given an assignment to visit an orphanage on an island in the middle of the sea for an entire month, things change. He’s removed from his comfort zone and he’s surrounded by the very people that he’s supposed to report on for a full 30 days. It’s impossible to stay objective!
The magical children were so amazing! The types of magic they held were everything from gnomes to the son of the devil himself. They all had so many different quirks and personalities. Arthur, who is the man that runs this particular orphanage, has taught the children to embrace who they are. So many times when you read books like this I find that the people are being told to conform and forget about what makes them who they are. But not with Arthur. He let’s them all know that they are beautiful BECAUSE they’re unique! The things that make them different are special and they need to embrace it at all costs. But he also teaches them that they’re not to use their differences to define them. some are “good” creatures and some are “bad”. But just because a stereotype assumes something of them, doesn’t mean that they need to follow along. They can be anything at all that they want to be!!
It was the exploration of self identification and relationships that made this book a stand out. People can change. Adversity can be overcome. Assumptions don’t define you. But, most of all, there was a serious exploration of what makes a person happy and what it means to be “home”. Like I said in the beginning, this book warmed all the icicles off my heart. I smiled like a happy little idiot almost the whole way through!
The only downfall of this book was the pace. It was dreadfully slow at times. Funny thing is – while I was reading it, I felt like the book was taking forever! And then, when I finished the book, I appreciated the time spent. I realized that the leisure pace spent in this place and with these people was for a reason. It takes time to become the person you’re meant to be. The ending really solidified all of that and wrapped it up into a story that was really something wonderful!!!!
Thank you so much to Raincoast Books Canada and Tor Books for the chance to read this in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and are uninfluenced.
Until next time, happy reading!