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Book Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea

by | Mar 24, 2023 | Book Reviews, Cozy Fantasy, Fantasy, Fantasy, LGBTQ+

Rating: 5/5 stars
Age Rating: 13+

When I first laid eyes on The House in the Cerulean Sea, it was V. E. Schwab’s glowing review on the cover that caught my attention, describing it as “like being wrapped up in a big gay blanket.” I was hunting for a snug and inviting read, and that irresistible quote nudged me to give this book a chance. And let me tell you; it went above and beyond in delivering the cozy fantasy I craved.

This tender and uplifting novel by TJ Klune weaves LGBTQ+ themes seamlessly into a story that will delight fans of whimsical fantasy, cherished found family narratives, enchanting magical creatures, and idyllic settings. With a cast of unforgettable characters, enthralling storytelling, and powerful messages of acceptance and the true meaning of family, this delightful and heartwarming novel is an absolute must-read. Now, let’s dive in further with this The House in the Cerulean Sea review.

Tropes in this Book

  • Found Family
  • Misunderstood magical beings
  • Slow burn

Introduction to The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea revolves around a case worker named Linus Baker, whose life changes dramatically when the extremely upper management of the Department in Charge of Magical Youth asks him to go on a special assignment. The assignment? To conduct a secret investigation of an island orphanage that shelters six extraordinary and dangerous children. As Linus embarks on this journey, he discovers not just the secrets of the orphanage but the power of love and the importance of family.

As Linus travels to the orphanage, he is struck by the beauty of the surrounding landscape. The rolling hills and lush greenery are a stark contrast to the dreary city where he spends most of his time. Linus is filled with a sense of wonder and excitement as he approaches the orphanage, unsure of what he will find but eager to uncover the truth.

The House in the Cerulean Sea blends fantasy, magical realism, and romance. It also features themes of acceptance, prejudice, love, and transformation. TJ Klune’s use of these themes makes the book so poignant and impactful. As the story unfolds, we see how the characters, especially Linus Baker, grow and change through their interactions with each other and their circumstances.

One of the most powerful themes in the book is acceptance. The children at the orphanage are shunned by society because of their magical abilities and are often treated as outcasts. Linus, who is initially skeptical of the children, learns to accept them for who they are and sees the beauty in their differences. Through his interactions with the children, he knows that love and acceptance are more powerful than fear and prejudice.

The book also explores the theme of transformation. As Linus spends more time at the orphanage, he transforms himself. He begins to question the beliefs and values he has held for so long and starts to see the world differently. Through his experiences at the orphanage, he learns that life is not always what it seems and that sometimes the most extraordinary things can be found in the most unexpected places.

Plot Summary

The orphanage, which is the setting for most of the book, is not just any ordinary orphanage. It’s a magical one, where the children who reside there each have unique abilities that are both wondrous and dangerous. There is Lucy, short for Lucifer, believed to be the Antichrist. A garden gnome (my favorite character) and a sprite bring an unyielding spirit and mischievous energy to the story. A were-Pomeranian who shows us the power of vulnerability and the importance of facing our fears. A young wyvern who represents resilience and growth potential. Finally, Chauncy, an unidentifiable green blob, who dreams of becoming a bellhop, reminding us that no aspiration is too small or insignificant.

As you delve deeper into the story, you discover that the orphanage is not just a place for these magical children to live but also a sanctuary. In this place, they can be themselves without fear of persecution or harm. The caretaker, Arthur Parnassus, has created a haven for these children who would otherwise be outcasts in society.

Upon arriving at the orphanage, Linus is initially apprehensive about the extraordinary children he encounters. Yet, he soon observes the tender way Arthur interacts with them and how they treat one another. They see and accept each other for who they are, believing that everyone equally deserves love. The heartwarming bonds within the orphanage are palpable.

The children have forged their own families within the sanctuary of the orphanage walls, supporting each other through the highs and lows of life. They impart to Linus the invaluable lesson that family transcends blood ties—it’s about the people who love, care for, and cherish you.

Main Characters

Step into the enchanting world of Linus Baker, a middle-aged gentleman whose heart is as big as his dedication to his career as a caseworker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY). Linus, our unassuming hero, prefers a quiet life filled with routines and order—until his latest assignment sweeps him away to a magical orphanage, where the extraordinary becomes the everyday.

Upon his arrival, Linus encounters Arthur Parnassus, the orphanage’s caretaker and a man whose warm heart and generous spirit win him over. Arthur’s devotion to the children knows no bounds, and as Linus soon discovers, his talents extend far beyond simple caretaking. From his culinary masterpieces to his enchanting storytelling, Arthur captivates both the children and Linus himself.

The true magic, however, lies within the children, each one possessing a unique and wondrous ability that sets them apart. As Linus delves deeper into their lives, he uncovers the dreams, fears, and daily challenges they face, and in doing so, he realizes they are not just a collection of extraordinary children, but a loving and supportive family.

Throughout their trials, the children’s resilience, bravery, and unyielding hope shine as bright as their enchanting gifts. Linus can’t help but fall in love with their indomitable spirits, learning that sometimes the most extraordinary things can be found in the most unexpected places.

Final Thoughts

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune is a magical and heartwarming novel that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Its memorable characters, captivating storytelling, and poignant messages make it a must-read for anyone who believes in the power of love and acceptance. TJ Klune is a gifted writer, and his ability to create a world full of wonder and imagination is truly remarkable. After reading the book, you’ll want to join the children at the orphanage and experience the magic for yourself.

If you found this review helpful, you can check out the book at Bookshop.org here and support local bookstores along the way!