Book Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea


Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: T.J. Klune 
Publication Date: 2020
Publishing House: Tor Books

I had heard a lot about this book and recently it was my turn on the waitlist to read it from the library. If you don’t already have a library card, I highly suggest one.

Goodreads Synopsis:

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. 

This book is a good read and it is easy to fly through it while only looking at the story on the surface as a fantasy world. However, this fantasy world has some serious problems and this story really does look at some heavy issues that are real problems in our world today.

In theory this world is one where magical people live along side non-magical humans, then there is the fact that all magical people are supposed to be registered. That is just the tip of the issue iceberg. In no particular order this book looks at children who have:

  • Been physically abused.
  • Been mentally abused.
  • Who are one of the last of their kind do to genocide of their species.
  • Who grew up in ghettos and watch their parents starve to death.
  • Extreme prejudice.
  • Assimilation.

“Sometimes our prejudices color our thoughts when we least expect them to. If we can recognize that, and learn from it, we can become better people.”

― T.J. Klune, The House in the Cerulean Sea

I think this book is a good way to look at difficult topics. It is often easier to see how things are wrong when look at fantasy than looking at it directly in our own world. Taking these lessons that we have learned from books we can then turn around and make our real world a better place.

This book is about love and about accepting people for who they are at heart and not just by things that can be learned about in a file. These children have spent most of their lives being classified and feared, treated as dangerous things that must be hidden from society. When, in truth, all they want is to be loved for who they are and not the circumstances of their birth.

This story is not just about the children, it is also about Linus Baker and his growth, not just in his perceptions but in his desire to do what is right for others and for himself. Then there is Arthur Parnassus, a man with secrets who really wants someone to share them with and to love all of him for who he is.

I hope that I didn’t scare anyone away from this book, despite the darkness it is a wonderful story that I already want to reread. So I suggest this book for those that enjoy fantasy, for those that enjoy magic, and for those that want a safe way to examine the darker parts of the world. Have you read this book? If so let me know in the comments. Happy reading!

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2 comments on “Book Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea”

  1. I absolutely loved this book (although when I learned Arthur’s secret, I kind of thought “so what?”). Still, I really need to re-read it. Unfortunately, I haven’t enjoyed any of Klune’s other books.

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