Book Review : The House in the Cerulean Sea

Book Review : The House in the Cerulean SeaThe House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
on March 17th 2020
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, LGBTQ
Pages: 393
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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 never thought I would utter these words about anything, but I cannot think of a single thing I did not like about The House in the Cerulean Sea. In fact, I voted it for Best Fantasy in the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards, and I’ve read a lot of great fantasy books this year. Its quite simple—The House in the Cerulean Sea is just that uniquely charming, endearing, hilarious, and heartwarming. And if that weren’t enough, the novel also touches upon universal and important themes.


Lucy said, “Hello, Mr. Baker. You would do well to remember that human souls are cheap trinkets to one such as me.” He giggled and leapt from the bookshelf, landing on his feet. He looked up at Linus and whispered, “I love cheap trinkets.”


The novel follows Linus Baker, a case worker for DICOMY, or Department in Charge of Magical Youths. Linus lives a very drab and lonely life, with only his cat for company, until DICOMY assigns him a highly classified orphanage to inspect. Upon his arrival at this orphanage, he is instructed to open an envelope containing case files. He finds that one of the children in the classified orphanage is the Antichrist and promptly faints. 


But sometimes, we can’t always control the … gifts we’re given. And it’s not necessarily the fault of those with said gifts.”


Hilarity ensues when he meets said son of the devil, referred to as Lucy, who has a flair for the dramatic and loves to scare mortals. The rest of the children include Chauncey, a transparent tentacle creature who dreams of being a bellhop, Phee, a powerful forest sprite, Talia, a female garden gnome, Theodore, a wyvern who hasn’t yet grown into his wings, and Sal, a boy who turns into a Pomeranian when scared. If you think this sounds positively nuts and like nothing you’ve ever experienced, you’d be correct. The House in the Cerulean Sea made me literally laugh out loud, despite being sick with a sore throat. The novel is just too hilarious, fun and sweet.


“The things we fear the most are often the things we should fear the least. It’s irrational, but it’s what makes us human. And if we’re able to conquer those fears, then there is nothing we’re not capable of.”


Despite all the humor, The House in the Cerulean Sea also deals with the importance of looking past other’s exterior and the societal norms. As Linus spends time with these children, who the world has deemed as threats to be hidden away, he begins to realize that there is more to his job than his DICOMY Rules & Regulations book and that there is more to life than his formerly drab existence. He learns to love the children, not despite their appearance or character quirks, but because of them. And the children too learn to love Linus with a fiercely innocent courageousness that only children are capable of.  


I’m afraid I don’t have magic.” “You do, Mr. Baker. Arthur told me that there can be magic in the ordinary.”


It’s truly heartwarming to watch Linus’s transformation from a live-or-die-by-the-rule-book, stick-in-the-mud-with-no-thought-for-the-bigger-consequences-of-his-job, to an empathetic human being who will stop at nothing to protect what’s important to him, which is his found family. Besides loving these children and Linus, I also loved the master of the orphanage, Mr. Parssanus. He is such a kind, patient, and complex individual who could see the good in anyone and encourage it. I really adored his ability to bring out this goodness in the children and Linus, especially. Their developing relationship was so sweet that it could be a Hallmark movie, (if Hallmark actually had representation in their movies). 


Despite not being a magical being himself, through the children Linus learns just how magical his acceptance and love for them really is. The House in the Cerulean Sea hits home how big of a difference a single individual can make, stating that change has to start at the bottom, with one person. In these times of 2020, this is an essential and uplifting theme, as is the other prominent theme of found family, which is emphasized by amazing, heartwarming moments of bonding through Linus and the children, who have been burned by adults many, many times before.


“We are who we are not because of our birthright, but because of what we choose to do in this life. It cannot be boiled down to black and white. Not when there is so much in between.”


If you’re looking for a fun, uniquely magical read with a very happy ending and important themes, this is the novel for you. The House in the Cerulean Sea easily became not just one of my favorite reads of this year, but of all time. I cannot recommend it enough. 


Book Review : The House in the Cerulean Sea

Posted November 23, 2020 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Favorite Books

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2 responses to “Book Review : The House in the Cerulean Sea

  1. Angelica

    Thanks for the amazing review. I’m currently reading it and from the first page I was hooked.

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