Book Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Before we begin this book review, those of you that have been following my blog might be tilting your heads at this pick.
This is a reread, something I don’t do often, but for grad school I have to do a presentation on a book a classmate and I both loved, so The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune was a no brainer!
I read this book back in 2020 and looked forward to taking another journey into this magical world, so I dove right in. Keep on reading for the updated 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.
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This is my second time reading this novel, and I enjoyed it even more than last time. I originally saw my blogger friends reviewing this book in 2020 and gave it a try.
This book centers on Linus Baker, a social worker of sorts for ‘orphanages’ for magically-gifted youth. Based on his observations and recommendations to DICOMY (The Department in Charge of Magical Youth), these orphanages either continue to run or are closed down. But when he’s called up to the fifth floor by Extremely Upper Management and given a classified assignment, Linus finds himself in an interesting predicament as he is sent to an island orphanage with extra gifted children.
I tried out the audiobook version of this title this time (last time I read the ebook version) narrated by Daniel Henning, and I think it was done very well. The narrator had a plethora of distinct voices with fun accents that I enjoyed, and it was easy to listen to. I also appreciated the emphasis on certain words and phrases that didn’t quite carry through in the ebook version last time.
Central themes in this book were acceptance, belonging and finding your chosen family, and I think due to these times we live in this book resonated with me very strongly.
The characters shined through and jumped right off the pages. While this book is a bit more character-driven than I usually care for, this is an instance where that actually worked for me.
Linus was an interesting character. He’s a bit shy and unassertive at first and very beaten down by his working conditions. His bosses and coworkers are terrible to him, and it made me cringe here and there at how appallingly he was treated. Things begin to change for Linus when he reaches the island. Throughout this novel, he has a lot of character progression and begins to question the very rules and regulations his existence is governed by. I really appreciated the LGBT representation here. We need more books like this in the world.
Other characters helped provide all the feels. My favorite characters were Lucy and Chauncey. Lucy had his own demons to combat (quite literally), and Chauncey’s blind optimism and hope really struck deep for me. Honestly, all of the characters are pretty great, those two just stuck out for me.
The plot was engaging from the beginning and didn’t lose it’s hold on me. I liked the dull, grey world Linus lived in before going to the mysterious island, and the system in place was very interesting. The journey Linus goes on is captivating, and though there isn’t a ton of action all the time, I had to know how things were going to end up with this motley crew of children, each with their own quirks and scars. Despite the seriousness of the book, there were these great cozy moments that warmed my heart and made me grateful for the goodness in people that seems to be so rare these days.
All in all, this book was a heartwarming LGBT adventure filled with love, hardship, and the power of the human spirit to persevere, and I can’t recommend this enough.
That’s A Wrap!
Well that’s it for this book review. I hope you enjoyed it!
Have you read this book? Are there other similar books you’ve read that you simply have to gush about? Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to start a conversation!
Have a great day!