Have you ever read a book you enjoyed so much that you smile even thinking about it? For me, that book is The House In The Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune. I discovered it while scrolling through Goodreads: a website which, among other things, suggests books you may like based off of the ones you’ve already read. Since I made an account in September I’ve found a variety of great books through its Recommendations page. However, The House In The Cerulean Sea really hit the mark. Join me in today’s post as I explore an uplifting story of found family, romance, and fantasy that quite simply has stolen my heart.
The House In The Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune:
Linus Baker is a solitary man who works as a Case Worker for the Department In Charge Of Magical Youth. He is content with his life and is very efficient at inspecting government-sanctioned orphanages. It is this efficiency that lands him a meeting with Extremely Upper Management. They have chosen Linus to inspect a classified orphanage and determine whether the six magical children who live there could bring about the End of Days. These children are… unusual to say the least. Leaving office monotony behind for a secluded island surrounded by cerulean water, Linus is at first daunted by the children and their mysterious caretaker Mr. Parnassus. But before long Linus begins to find a home amongst the group, and develops a special connection with Mr. Parnassus. How will Linus be able to endure returning to a life with nothing waiting for him when everything he needs is right here on the island?
One of the things I enjoyed about this book is that the fantasy aspect wasn’t an intricately complex magical world where everyday actions take on a new appearance. While I do like that aspect in the Harry Potter series and The Hobbit, I also like the familiarity of society. I’ll begin to lose interest if everything the character interacts with has to be explained. For an imaginary example, “Trolls once fought against our fairy ancestors, so now all of the trolls must work off their debt to our society by mining enchanted azure crystal for our sacred ceremonial rituals” is a plot that’s too much for me to read and have it not feel like work. The characters have human traits, but the environment is so unlike our own that it really throws me off. (I’m not trying to offend any fantasy lovers- I’m just explaining why the genre isn’t for me. Some of my friends like fantasy for the exact reason I don’t: they enjoy being able to immerse themselves in an entirely different world. Everyone has different opinions, and that’s okay.) I found that the The House In The Cerulean Sea struck the perfect balance of familiar and magical for me. The children at the orphanage are species other than human, but they coexist alongside humans and enjoy their childhood in a way very similar to human children. It all feels very natural; anything that has to be explained is easy to follow.
That aside, the main reason this book has wormed its way into my heart is the emphasis on found family. Though initially an outsider Linus bonds quickly with the children and soon begins to act paternally towards them. Seeing the individual relationships between Linus and each child blossom is very sweet to watch. He knows how to give them the help they need, and later extols their virtues in his reports to Extremely Upper Management. In doing so once-solitary Linus realizes that family isn’t blood but the people you find along the way. Sweet, too, is the relationship between Linus and Mr. Parnassus. Their slow-burn romance isn’t dramatic and doesn’t overtake the main focus of the plot. It’s instead quiet and tender, clearly demonstrating that the two are compatible. I also enjoyed the fact that the love story occurs between two average-looking middle-aged men, which I thought was a refreshing change of pace from other romances I’ve read this year.
I’ve had a fuzzy feeling in my chest the entire time I’ve been typing this post. Linus and Mr. Parnassus, morbid Lucy and grumpy Talia have all endeared themselves to me over the course of the book. The children are carefree despite their non-human status in a human-dominated world and are written exactly the way kids act in real life. The romance isn’t messed with to create tension. You’ll come to care for the characters so much that you won’t want to put the book down! There are also interesting plot turns that will both surprise you and make you chuckle. I can’t stop thinking about The House In The Cerulean Sea, so I’ve spontaneously ordered it as an early Christmas gift to myself. (I rarely purchase anything for myself unless I want it badly, so that’s how you know that my affection for this book is serious!) The House In The Cerulean Sea is an uplifitng story that you won’t soon forget.