This is actually my favorite book, and I’ve read it more than once since its release last year. The first couple of times though, I have to say that it blew my mind so much that I couldn’t get a coherent thought around it. So, when I re-listened to it again for my Book Club, I decided that it was time!
The time has come!
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.
“Who’s the square?” J-Bone whispered.
“Mr. Baker,” Lucy whispered back. “He’s here to make sure I don’t burn anyone alive with the power of my mind and then consume their souls from their smoking carcass.”
“Rock on, little dude,” J-Bone said, offering a high five which Lucy gladly accepted. “I mean, I hope that doesn’t happen to me, but you do you.”
This is such a wonderful story, full of so many feels! This review may end up being just 2000 words of squee for it, but I’ll try and stay coherent.
The House in the Cerulean Sea is the story of Linus Baker. Linus works for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY) – which is more or less Magical CPS in this world. It is his task to visit orphanages and give reports on them, and he is very good at what he does. He is very good about sticking to the rules, and the rules say that he is to stay professional and to not form attachments, which has been true for his entire career. So when Extremely Upper Management sends him on a secret assignment to a very special orphanage on an island near a resort town, he goes in with his rulebook in hand, and when he meets the children and their caretaker Arthur Parnassus, many shenanigans are had.
So, I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t even halfway through this book the first time when I realized that I would fight a feral bear for any of these kids, and honestly the adults too. The children of the Marsyas Island orphanage are unique, even within a world where magical beings exist. Talia is a garden gnome, Phee is a forest sprite, Theodore is a wyvern, Sal is a were-pomeranian, Chauncey is… well nobody really knows what he is. Then there’s Lucy… who is a 6-year-old boy, and also the Antichrist. I’ve no idea how TJ Klune made it so that I would fight a feral bear for the Antichrist, but here we are.
This is among the most heartwarming books I’ve ever read, and despite the fact that it does, in fact, make me a little emotional (especially near the end *snuffle snuffle*), it is almost guaranteed to leave me in a wonderful mood. I’ve started to realize over the last few years that the ‘found family’ trope is one of my absolute favorites in all of literature, and this might well be my very best example of it. This, and The Last Sun – but I think this one is a little more wholesome, all told. 😀
The narrator, Daniel Henning does a fantastic job with it. The voices that he gives to Chauncey, Talia, and Lucy especially are my favorites. This is already a book that I can sink into for hours at a time, but the great narration adds even more of a great time.
So, all told, you should run not walk to this book if you like heartwarming slice of life fantasy with a found family. If you’re not sure if those are things you like in your fantasy, I would say that this is a fantastic start in finding out! I give this one ♾️/5 stars!!