“A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.”
Published in 2020, The House In The Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune follows Linus Baker who 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.
This is a book that I’ve seen all over Bookstagram over the past few years, so I was looking forward to finally reading it. Yet I still didn’t have any idea about what this story was about, so I went into it blind.
With a light humour and likeable characters, The House In The Cerulean Sea is an immersive, engrossing and heartwarming young adult fantasy.
While I do feel like the pace was quite slow and that there weren’t many big events to pick up the energy, I constantly felt so much comfort in the feeling of support that runs through the story. The way that Arthur communicates with the different personalities in his care often put a smile on my face, and there was so much to take away from their outlooks on life.
Most of all, I loved the philosophical messages that sprung out, which reminded me of one of my favourite books, The Little Prince. Although there weren’t many quotes that really stood out to me, I feel like the messages were incorporated more subtly in conversation as Baker got to know the children.
I was expecting to feel more of a powerful emotional connection to the character and stories so it didn’t quite reach its potential for me. But overall, it’s such a lovely story and these characters will definitely stick with me.