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.
An extraordinary treat for both T.J. Klune fans and those new to his writing, The House in the Cerulean Sea is a heart-warming, wholesome, diverse, ridiculous, and completely lovable fantasy story.
As a long-time T.J. Klune fan, as I'm sure many of you are, I know you are asking yourself what this book will be like now that T.J. Klune is publishing with the big boys. I'm very happy to report that the book read just like I was expecting it to, which means tight writing, romance (!), queer characters everywhere (natch), and a story you won't want to put down.
I wasn't sure how this book would be, to be honest, because it is billed as "contemporary fantasy," and I'm not really a fantasy reader. And, really, I'm surprised it's a contemporary because I would have placed the timeline as further in the past due to some of the details, but that's not really here nor there. It isn't an high fantasy, so it is good for low fantasy readers who simply like a little magic in their world, like me. But the bottom line is if you've enjoyed TJ's books in the past, you'll love this story. And if you are new to him, you'll soon be devouring his backlist. Welcome to the club.
I think this book could be enjoyed by all readers of all ages. It is probably meant for adults, but it's a great read for those as young as middle grade (I would let my 5th grader read it if her reading level was advanced enough). It has a lot of important lessons about how we judge one another and what our preconceived notions are about other people, and in this world, the more gentle learning we can take in, the better. It does edge a bit towards sentimental at times, but it just adds to the charm.
TJ is very adept at writing interesting young characters, and that's where this book really shines. The children in this story are all heart-breaking, and funny (the BEST parts of the story), and you'll fall in love with them all. I would be hard-pressed to pick my favorites, but Lucy and Chauncey stood out for me. Lucy has some of the best contrasts in the book, and Chauncey is just so pure. *1,000 heart-eye emojis.*
The story is fairly long, but that just means more to savor. You won't be bored for one minute, and you'll leave the story feeling happy and hopeful.
With his typical beautiful writing and unique style, T.J. Klune makes The House in the Cerulean Sea shine. With no end to his imagination in sight, I can't wait to see what TJ will come up with next.
*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*
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