Book Review: “The House in the Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune

“A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with.”

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.

I chose to read this book because I’d just finished season two of The Umbrella Academy and needed something similar. Since TUA is a comp title for Cerulean Sea, I figured it would hit the spot. And, while certain aspects of the story are comparable, this book is the antithesis of The Umbrella Academy. And I loved it for that.

The House in the Cerulean Sea is the most wholesome book I’ve read in years. I can’t remember the last time a book, or any piece of media, made me feel this soft. I didn’t even know how badly I needed a book like this until I read it. This novel is a ray of light in the unending darkness that is 2020.

Linus, Arthur, and the children are characters that creep up on you. I fell in love with them and with their relationships. I love how quirky and well-rounded the kids are and how healthy and loving Arthur’s relationship is with them. I love watching Linus develop his own relationship with the kids. I love seeing Linus and Arthur’s mutual crushes on each other slowly become something more and being shown why they’re falling for each other.

I’ve been putting off writing this review for over a week because I don’t know how to express my love for this book without just squealing and flailing. So I think I’m going to cut this review short. Please, please, please read this book. If you love the found family trope, then this is the book for you. If you just want to feel happy and hopeful, then this is the book for you.

I highly, highly recommend this book. And look, I know this is a stand-alone, but I’m just saying… a sequel from Helen or Zoe’s perspective? So we get more of these characters and their relationship? I wouldn’t be opposed, Mr. Klune.

Fat MC, 2 gay men (OwnVoices), M/M relationship, & trauma survivors

Prejudice/bigotry & references to child abuse

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have you read The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune? What are your thoughts? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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