This is one of my new favorite novels. I am annoyed I waited so long to read this absolute joyous tale.
The House in the Cerulean Sea has been a bestseller and staple of the TikTok BookTok community since its release. It’s constantly asked for at my library, and although it falls under the umbrella of all my favorite things (queers and magic), I’ve never gotten around to reading it until it was chosen for my book club. Had I known this book was made for me, I might have moved it up my TBR pile.
The House on the Cerulean Sea is more a novel of atmosphere and emotion than anything else. Linus Baker, a caseworker for an organization that monitors orphanages that house magical youth, is assigned to a top-secret mission. He must visit a remote island that inhabits only six magical children and their caretaker, a mysterious man named Arthur Parnassus. Upon arrival, Linus’ preconceived notions of who these children are is blown to pieces as he interacts with them daily and realizes that regardless of their appearance, family history, or name, they are simply children and should be protected and treated as such.
The winning part of this book is the emotional response one has while reading. The characters are all creative, fun, and nuanced, especially the young children. Chauncey, a blob-like child with the desire to grow up and be a bellhop, is one of the most endearing characters I’ve read in ages, and I would do anything for this child. They’re all whip-smart and funny without being precocious, and Klune walks the line of writing them as children who are aware of the world’s prejudices as best as possible.
The slow-burn romance between Linus and Arthur is also beautiful to witness, both closed off and isolated in their own way. They bond over their mutual desire for the children to be safe; though they approach it from different perspectives, those differences allow them to balance one another out.
The less I say about the book, the better, as I feel like this novel needs to be read rather than reviewed. As I stated before, my favorite thing about this book was its established atmosphere. As I read outside on my deck, I felt I knew the island they inhabited and understood their desire to connect with nature and the world around them. In a volatile time in the US, especially for those of us who are not white dudes, this book was precisely the thing I needed to remind me that sometimes people can be good, they can grow and change, and for a little while, I can ignore Twitter and remember what wholesomeness feels like.
Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
Three Descriptors: Quirky, Heartwarming, Offbeat
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