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Book Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea

House in the Cerulean Sea

  • Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
  • Author: TJ Klune
  • Series: None
  • Genre: Fantasy, LGBT+
  • Publishing Date: March 17th, 2020
  • Publishing Co.: Tor Books
  • Length: 393 pages
  • Format: Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook
  • Acquired: Bought the Kindle version
  • Amazon Link: The House in the Cerulean Sea

Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world.

Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. And his secrets will come to light.

The House in the Cerulean Sea is an enchanting love story, masterfully told, about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

First Chapter Challenge:

After just the first chapter, I’m not terribly intrigued with the story. It does seem to have a dystopian vibe with Linus Baker the “Winston” trapped in a 1984 world where there are strict rules that must be abided. But aside from that, I don’t really care for Linus, nor his world. Nothing really stands out to me. BUT I hope this means there is going to be a nice buildup in the next couple chapters to raise the stakes and get me to care about the characters. 

Final Judgment: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Linus Baker works for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY) and he’s good at his job. He is able to go to orphanages and assess the situation the children are in with absolute objectivity in extremely detailed reports. But when he’s given an assignment that deals with classified material, off an island that the larger world doesn’t know exists… Well, his skills are put to the test. As well as his heart. 

Full disclosure, I read this book as part of a buddy read with my writing group. This is not normally a book I would pick up for myself–it sounded a bit too… Cheesy. And yet, I loved it. 

The first 5 chapters start off slow, and I wasn’t really into the story. I didn’t care about Linus or his backstory, and in fact, he annoyed me. I saw that the world had ties to some sort of dystopian society, but they were never blatantly discussed, and so Linus being who he was (bland, by-the-book) just didn’t quite pique my interest. 

That is, until we reached the island. 

There, when we were introduced to the children, that is when I began to fall in love with the book. In fact, my favorite character from the entire book is one of the children. Can you guess who? The amazing imagination and childlike innocence that permeated the story from that moment on was a masterpiece. The children were authentically children. So much so that my heart ached for them and I may have cried (*cough*) when they were in turmoil. I would have done anything for those children. 

Without spoiling the book–because I do highly recommend it to anyone reading!–I want to briefly mention why I loved it. It was honestly just a feel-good book. Love and feelings abounded, and even though some parts could be disgustingly cheesy, I think it was something that I needed. Something that perhaps we all need, especially now in 2021. The relationships between the characters are beautiful and bloom into something that I can only dream of having in my own slice of reality. The writing was (again) somewhat cheesy, but also very authentic in the dialogue and how Klune directed the children. In fact, there was a poem that one of the children wrote in the book, and I may very well print it out and post it on my wall–it was fantastic. And terribly relatable. 

I think that is part of what makes this book so good. We can all gain something from it, because we’ve all felt at some point like we’re on the outside. Like we don’t belong, or that we’re not good enough. And maybe we all need Arthur Parnassus to tell us that we are good enough just by being us. 

The reason this lost half a star is because of a few nitpicky comments I had on various relationships throughout the novel. I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t get into the deets, but there just wasn’t enough build in some of the relationships for me to see them as real and worthwhile. 

Overall, I highly recommend this novel if you’re in the mood for a feeler. Something to put you in a good mood while at the same time making you cry and laugh aloud. Definitely made me want to hug someone. Good luck out there!

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