Don't you wish you were here?
-Linus' mousepad

What is it?

The House in the Cerulean Sea is a 2020 fantasy-ish, mundane-fantastic-ish, magical-realism-ish, urban-fantasy-ish novel by T.J. Klune.

What's it About?

The story takes place in a 21st century, current-modern-day-style world where magical beings and people openly exist. Historically, there was unpleasantness, but these days magical folk are registered and monitored by a fearful government who, ideally, seeks to keep the peace and safety between everyone. Unfortunately, it is inevitably biased, and the magically inclined among the populace wind up getting the short end of things despite being technically equal under the law.

Linus Baker is a social worker for the magical social services agency, DICOMY, the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he has been working for the past seventeen years. Specifically, he is one of the agents who investigates DICOMY-run "orphanages" that house children with powers, but no families to care for them. If the orphanages seem on the up-and-up, Linus sends in a report recommending they stay open. If they don't meet standard, he recommends their closure, and the children are shuffled around in the system, either to another orphanage or to one of the DICOMY run schools. Unlike many in DICOMY, Linus genuinely cares about the safety and wellbeing of the children he works with, but he's also complacent and doesn't tend to think about what happens to them after he's gone, and their files move into someone else's caseload.

Linus' life gets shaken when Extremely Upper Management gives Linus a special assignment: to investigate an unorthodox orphanage on a little island that houses very special cases. Cases so special, in fact, that the one local village is paid to keep quiet about the orphanage's existence.

Linus can't say no, and so he soon finds himself at the titular house in the cerulean sea, where he meets the six unusual children who live there and the mysterious director of the orphanage, Arthur Parnassus.

What did you think?

Warning: Very Vague Spoilers

Maybe it's because I'm a teacher and so am predisposed to like stories where adults are supportive, kind, and life-affirming to sad children, and the kids in turn are receptive to that affirmation and become confident and healthy, but I adored this book. It's so wholesome.

This book is like a hot bowl of chicken soup on a cold day-- but a day that's good cold, where you're inside with a blanket and scented candles and hot soup, and outside looks gloomy in an aesthetic way. It's cozy, is what I mean. It's wholesome. The stakes never get world-shatteringly big. This isn't a fast paced action novel with twists and turns. There's revelations made, mind you, but it's not a mystery novel.

If anything, the plot resembles more the myriad of Hallmark movies where Sad Workaholic City Gal goes into the countryside and meets Happy Country Single Dad, and the two hit it off, and someone learns the meaning of Christmas. Except, of course, that Linus is a man who hits it off with the Single Dad, and the book is actually enjoyable to read. There's a wyvern who collects buttons. There's a gnome girl who threatens to murder people with her shovel. The antichrist is tiny and likes Buddy Holly.

10/10, highly recommend.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.