Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Release Day Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea
TJ Klune
Release: March 17, 2020
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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.

Have you ever read something that is something completely new yet familiar at the same time? That's how I feel about The House in the Cerulean Sea. I am totally in love with this book and I'm having a hard time pinning down exactly why. The best comparison I can come up with is that the story reads like what I'd imagine would be the result of Douglas Adams and Diana Wynne Jones combining forces to write a fantasy version of the Island of Misfit Toys but with paranormal creatures instead of toys and a dash of Good Omens thrown in for good measure.

The story follows middle-aged and easily forgotten caseworker, Linus Baker, who gets sent by upper management to investigate a troublesome group home for magical children that has seemingly been kept a secret from everyone.What Linus finds when he gets to the orphanage was nothing he was expecting or even remotely prepared for.

This book is heartwarming, sentimental, weird and absolutely and utterly delightful! I picked it up for the queer romance and I kept reading for the six dangerous children, their mysterious caretaker, the invisible case worker, and the found family trope. The children are a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist and they are weird and just downright perfect! My heart was a puddle of heartwarmed goo by the time I finished this book.

I immediately wanted to go and start this book again when I finished and that is the highest praise I can give a book.

I quickly fell in love with the children and their mysterious caretaker, Arthur. I fell in love with Linus too but it took a bit longer. It was quite easy once we got to see him interact with everyone at Marsyas Island. The worldbuilding in this book is on the light side for a fantasy book but that doesn't mean that it wasn't absolutely delightful and well done. I want to go live on the island with everyone and have adventures with them every Saturday.

A major theme running through out the book is that you don't need to live up to other people's expectations of what you should be solely based on who or what you were born. You don't have to be a monster even if look like one and that's what everyone expects from you. It's okay to be different. It's crucial even. It's about finding yourself, your place, and your happiness and being true to it. I've had this book finished for a while now and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since.

I am a sucker for the found family trope and the one in this book was so precious! I could read a whole series about them! And the romance! It wasn't overwhelmingly at the forefront but it was sweet and beautiful and I was rooting for it as soon as they met on page for the first time! Also, can I comment on the fact that this is a standalone contemporary fantasy? I can't remember the last time I read one and it's part of what I loved about this book!

The House in the Cerulean Sea is heartwarming, delightfully diverse, wonderfully queer, and a bit ridiculous but in the best way. It's one that I can confidently say has already made my favorite books of the year list.

This was my first TJ Klune book and, if all of his books are written like this one, he deserves the hype. Definitely read this for the contemporary fantasy setting and the queer romance but stay for the precocious children and the found family trope. I can't recommend this one enough! It's one I will be definitely adding to my collection and I will be shouting my love about for the rest of the year. Now if you'll excuse me, I have TJ Klune's whole backlist to read.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  5 / 5 Stars

Book 2: The Bar (Moon)- Read a Book Where You and the Author Share at Least One Initial

Recommended for fans of: 

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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