Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish cornner of the internet. After having it on my reading list for far too long, I finally got around to reading The House in the Cerulean Sea, and today I’m sharing my 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.
Some books are almost impossible to review for various reasons, and this one falls into the “almost impossible to review because it’s absolutely perfect” catogery. I just want to gush and cry about it.
Everything about this book captured my heart. Linus is an awkward human being, going through his day to day life as he feels everyone is. His reports are exactly what the government want them to be: detailed and detached. He lives very much By The Rules, because what else is there to do? It’s no surprise, then, that they send him on a more intense assignment. Called in by Extremely Upper Management, he holds onto those rules, packing them reverantly with him in his suitcase to take with him.
None of that is suprising. But everything he finds there is.
To a degree, the storyline felt predictable, but I really, frankly, didn’t care. I was desperate to see it play out. I wanted to listen to it at twice the speed to make it happen quicker but also slow it down so it lasted forever. I fell utterly in love with Linus, smiled every time Arthur spoke, wanted to visit Zoe’s house, and the children… The children. Each was captured as so wonderfully individual, and even those that had been through trauma were shown to be healing with the care and guidence that Arthur shows. The biases that Linus arrives with are slowly chipped away, until one simple fact remains: these are just children. They deserve love, just like anyone, and Arthur is showing them that.
Linus is a fantastic protagonist in just how bland he seems at first. Sticking to the rules is all he knows, and he doesn’t allow himself to think beyond them for a good chunk of the book. In the reports he writes, he is forcefully honest – at first. Watching him grow, starting to question what he’s been told, thinking outside of the “See Something, Say Something” he has been taught, and develop into who he was deep down was so beautiful. It’s one of the most endearing stories of growth I’ve ever read.
I sobbed and laughed my way through this book. It absolutely touched my heart over and over again, and it will be a long time before I forget these characters.
Thanks for stopping by today for my loving ramblings about this gay magical realism book. I’m so pleased I managed to fit this in before the end of 2021; it was one of the last books I read, and it ended the year off beautifully.
I’m planning on reading TJ Klune’s other recent bestseller Under The Whispering Door pretty soon, and falling in love with all of these characters has made me even more sure I want to!