The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

“A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with.” – Helen

Synopsis: Linus Baker leads a totally normal life. At forty, he lives with his cat, and enjoys listening to his old records. Working as a Case Worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY), he writes up reports on government sanctioned orphanages, determining whether to keep them open or not. Linus gets an unexpected assignment to a faraway orphanage on Marsyas Island. This orphanage is unlike any other, home to six children that DICOMY has deemed dangerous. Linus is out of his depth not just because of the children, or the island sprite, Zoe, but also because of their enigmatic caretaker, Arthur Parnassus. While writing his reports to Extremely Upper Management, Linus learns more about the children than he normally would, and finds himself missing something he never quite had, a family.

Review: TJ Klune has crafted a book that blends aspects of fantasy with a dystopian society so seamlessly. While the children have magical abilities, DICOMY has very Orwellian characteristics. There is irony in writing this after people have been complaining about “censorship” over social media and calling it “Orwellian”. In any case, this blend isn’t even the best part about this book. Nor is it the inclusion of a gay character whose story doesn’t revolve around him being gay. The best part about this story is the children: Talia, the gnome, Theodore, a wyrven, Phee, a forest sprite, Sal, a were-Pomeranian, Chauncey, a green blob with tentacles and of unknown origin, and Lucy, the six-year-old antichrist. These children were deemed dangerous by DICOMY, but they are anything but, sure Lucy might talk about ways to kill people and Talia might talk about burying the bodies, they are simply children living together and being there for each other. There is such wholesomeness in this story and the strong bond that the children have with one another is not lost on Linus. The other crucial point that Klune touches on is the prejudices that the children face by DICOMY and the other residents of Marsyas. But even in the face of baseless hatred, the children stick to what they have learned from Arthur and and never lose sight of their dreams.

Read: 1/3/2021 – 1/16/2021
Release date: March 17th, 2020; Tor Books
Page count: 394
Rating: ★★★★★
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian
Audience: Adult

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