The House in the Cerulean Sea
Updated: Oct 7, 2022
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
"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."
The House in the Cerulean Sea is a standalone fantasy novel by T.J. Klune.
I rarely give out 5-star ratings, but this was just everything. Heartbreaking but wholesome at the same time, this novel just hits all the marks.
I didn't initially intend to read this book because I wasn't entirely interested in the plot. I eventually caved in though because the reviews for it were overwhelmingly positive.
For the majority of the book I was worried because it wasn't feeling like a 5-star book, and I was hovering around a 4-star rating. I think this was mainly due to the fact that the book was entirely what I was expecting it to be. I thought it would be a light and fluffy read in its entirety, but it was more serious than I thought it would be. Our MC Linus is a man who is set in his ways, not entirely happy and working in an unhealthy environment. This aspect was heavily prominent throughout the book as Linus is rather rigid towards the others.
My feelings took a sharp turn 80% of the way in as I spent the rest of the book actively trying not to cry. My struggles with Linus' character were worth it in the end because the character relationships were just wholesome. You end up rooting so much for Linus to have a happy ending and for him and to be comfortable with himself. After I finished, I just couldn't give this any less than 5-stars because of how emotional I got.
As you can see above, I loved this book when I read it, and I gave it a very rare 5 star rating. Since then, however, it has come to my attention that book is problematic in the sense that the story was inspired by real (ongoing) tragedies. According to this reddit post, the author stumbled upon 'The 60s Scoop' and residential schools in Canada, and thought that he could take these very traumatic events and spin it into a fantasy story.
While there are opinions opposing this and defending the book out there as well, if the inclination of this being inspired by the oppression and genocide of Indigenous peoples, I would caution you to do your research before going into this. And, as such, I am now more hesitant to recommend this book as, again, while I did enjoy reading it in the moment and will keep it at 5 stars, my feelings for it are now more murky.