Book Review: “The House In The Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune

Cover of "The House In The Cerulean Sea" by TJ Klune
Cover of “The House In The Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune.

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “The House In The Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune!

Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

“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.”

Content Warnings:

There are numerous mentions of death (though not graphically described), as well as very few scenes of actual violence. Child abuse is also discussed between characters, as well as institutional abuses. If you are uncomfortable with any of this content, please read carefully.

Plot Development: 5 out of 5 stars

The book had two plots. One was the main plot of Linus coming to the Marsyas Island Orphanage to learn about the children, their caretaker Arthur, as well as other aspects of the island they live in. Living with them eventually turns into a “found family” for Linus later on through his bonding with the children and Arthur. The other plot was the slow-burn sideplot of Linus and Arthur’s romance. I will expand on this in the romance-development section.

The main plot was well-written. It’s at a relatively slow pace overall. However, it’s evened out so that there are always new things happening along the way, which always kept me intrigued with every page turn.

Character Development: 5 out of 5 stars

Linus was a fun protagonist to read. He learned to go beyond his comfort zone (literally and figuratively) throughout the whole story. He learned that people aren’t always what they seem. I also enjoyed reading Arthur, and he is very charming and thoughtful overall. The children at the orphanage were also fun to read, each with their own distinct personality.

One of the things I loved most about the main characters’ developments was that the book gave time for the children to have interactions with each other. Their additional interacting with Linus and/or Arthur throughout the book also helped. This is because it helped flesh out the relationships and bonds they had. I also just adored how both Arthur and Linus grew fiercely protective of the children over time, too. They have a lot of sweet moments with each other and with the children, and it was touching to read.

And, of course, I loved reading the romance, but speaking of romance…

Romance Development: 5 out of 5 stars

Linus and Arthur’s romance is a slow-burn romance, but it is good. It starts picking up more in the second third of the book. It culminates in not just a kiss between Linus and Arthur, but also the possibility (and high likelihood) of marriage by the end of the book. Arthur and Linus both challenge each other, which I really love about this romance. Arthur challenges Linus’ somewhat-prejudiced worldviews of magical children and/or other living beings, as well as the morals of the Department In Charge Of Magical Youth (called DICOMY for short). Linus, meanwhile, helps Arthur open up more on a personal level.

Overall, I’m rating this book 5 out of 5 stars!

If you enjoy the concepts of found family wrapped up in supernatural/fantasy entities and slow-burn romance, this is definitely the book for you! This might arguably be one of the best books I’ve read and reviewed this year, so far.

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