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 realising that family is yours.
Thank you very much to Tor.com for providing me with an advance reading copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA
IS OUT NOW!
“A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with.”
The House in the Cerulean Sea is TJ Klune’s softest novel yet and my new favourite. It’s a delightful story, full of endearing characters that you can’t help but fall in love with, and a stellar plot — all of Klune’s signature style.
I’ve been reading Klune’s books for about three years now. I started with his Green Creek series — what if Twilight were gay and 10x more angsty? — then read his Tales from Verania — my favourite because of the talking gay unicorn — and then systematically made my way through the rest of his bibliography. I have to say that The House in the Cerulean Sea is completely unique, unlike anything else he’s ever written, and it shines.
The novel follows a man named Linus Baker who has never done anything wrong in his entire life. That’s not an exaggeration, that’s just plain true. He always follows the rules because he must as he works for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. One day, he’s given an assignment that takes him out of his comfort zone as he must live on an island for a month with magical children and observe their enigmatic mentor, Arthur Parnassus.
Linus is by far one of the sweetest characters I’ve ever read. He is just so wholesome and lovely, but he has a backbone too. He can stand up for himself, even when he’s terrified. But what makes him a sweetheart is that the kids adore him, and right from the get-go too. I’ve always said that if a child likes you, then you’re a good person because children have this uncanny ability to pick out people they feel safe around. And that’s definitely Linus.
“Is that the ocean?” Linus whispered.
“It is,” the attendant said. “Quite the sight, isn’t it? … Say, have you never seen the ocean before?”
Linus shook his head. “Only in pictures. It’s so much bigger than I thought it’d be.”
The characters in this book are so unique and amazing. While I adore all the children, I have a soft spot in my heart for little Theodore, a baby wyvern, and Chauncey, a green blog of indeterminate species. Theodore likes to hoard things and his favourite are Linus’ buttons, while Chauncey wants nothing more in life than to be a bellhop because he wants to help people. Adorable 😭.
Then there’s Lucy, the antichrist, son of the literal Devil. But he’s just a six-year-old boy who has nightmares he doesn’t know how to deal with, but with bit of a propensity towards dead things. There’s also Talia, a rare female gnome, who loves her fat body and helps Linus come to care for his own too. There’s Phee, a sprite who looks sweet but will cut first and ask questions later. And then there’s Sal, a cute were-Pomeranian who has been shuffled through orphanage after orphanage and wants nothing more than to stay at Marsyas Island, but is scared that will be taken from him by Linus.
And finally, there’s Arthur Parnassus, a mysterious figure who loves all the children under his care equally. Linus finds himself drawn to Arthur, but doesn’t feel as though he’s good enough or handsome enough for this handsome stranger. But Arthur is determined to show Linus how wrong he is. And that’s true Klune style: he shows how people are still worthy of love, even if they don’t think they are.
Sometimes, he thought to himself in a house in a cerulean sea, you were able to choose the life you wanted.
And if you were of the lucky sort, sometimes that life chose you back.
The House in the Cerulean Sea is a book about family, specifically, found family. It’s about the importance of love, above all else, in a child’s life and how you don’t need to be biologically related to someone to love them or consider them a part of your family. Get your hands on a copy of this book ASAP. It’s a fantastic book to read during these troubling times.