Review: THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by T.J. Klune

Publisher: Tor Books
Page Count: 392
Release Date: March 17th, 2020
Series: Standalone
Rating: 4/5 Stars – Really Liked It!

Linus Baker has spent decades working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, traveling to orphanages that house children with special abilities and making sure they’re being well-cared for. It’s his job to be impartial and not let emotions become involved, and he takes his responsibilities seriously. Which is why Linus is selected by Upper Management for a very special case. Linus must travel to an orphanage on Marsyas Island and determine if the inhabitants there are in danger of causing the end of the world. It should be a straight forward case for Linus. After all, he prides himself on his objectivity and ability to remain emotionally distant from the subjects of his reviews. Why should this case be any different?

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA is a deceptively simple book that nestles into your heart and asks, “Don’t you wish you were here?” It’s whimsically written, with the kind of bold colors and heightened exaggeration in descriptions that almost reminded me of Roald Dahl in places (though decidedly less bleak). It uses those extremes to hit you with contrasts, and the first time Linus leaves the big city for Marsyas Island, I felt an emotional weight come off my chest I didn’t know I was carrying for Linus and his stale routine and lonely existence.

Upon arriving on Marsyas Island, Linus is gradually introduced to the children and caretakers of the Marsyas orphanage. If you like quirky approaches to gifted children, such as a were-pomeranian or a gelatinous blob whose goal in life is to be a bellhop, you will have a delightful time with this book. The author embraces the innocence of the children at the orphanage, who take great seriousness in their Saturday expeditions into the forest to find pirates and villains and cannibals. Reading about those Saturday expeditions, and the gravity the caretakers and Linus give to the children and their questions and play time, is one of the best things of the book. No one’s fears or imaginings are ever dismissed simply because they’re under the age of 14. And of course, if you want a cozy romance, one that doesn’t hit like a thunder bolt, but instead blossoms over time with glances and the noticing of small details, you will find it here as well.

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA is a book concerned with acceptance, both by others and by yourself of yourself. The way conflicts around acceptance emerge aren’t necessarily surprising, but still work; just because something is a bit rote doesn’t mean it can’t be well-executed. That’s the charm of CERULEAN SEA; it’s simple, and yet does everything so well that you don’t realize how much you’re enjoying it until it’s already set up shop in your feelings. So yes, yes CERULEAN SEA, I do wish I was there.

13 thoughts on “Review: THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by T.J. Klune

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  1. Thanks for this review! I’d been curious about this one but passed it by, not knowing it if was worth the time giving it a try. But everything in your review drew me in. This sounds like the sort of book I keep craving these days but have a hard time finding.

    Liked by 1 person

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