Review: “The House in the Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune

The Yellow is Outrageous

“It’s the little things, I expect. Little treasures we find without knowing their origin. And they come when we least expect them. It’s beautiful, when you think about it.”

How do I put into words all the ways I loved this book? 

It’ll never be enough to describe the warm fuzzy feelings and the way I was transported from my dreary home in Nashville to the bright cerulean sea in which the most peculiar house sits… but I sure as hell am going to try. 

Not all books have to be flashy. Not all books have to be about princes saving princesses and setting kingdoms on fire or ‘chosen’ teenagers toppling fascists regimes. 

Sometimes a book can be quiet and ordinary to be extraordinary. 

The House in the Cerulean Sea is about Linus Baker, a meek and by-the-book employee of the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth (aka: he’s a social worker for magical children). One day, he gets tasked with investigating the Marsyas Island Orphanage; home to six fantastical, spirited, but ultimately “dangerous” children (including the Anti-Christ, but don’t call him that or it hurts his feelings!) and its leader, Arthur. What follows is a study in magic, found family, and how the prejudices that shape us may be the furthest thing from the truth.

This book is like a warm hug. The writing is straightforward enough for it to flow quickly through the 300+ pages, but the amount of lovely descriptions and introspection of our dear Linus had me constantly stopping and smiling for no other reason at all.

It is also straight up hysterical. Lucy might be my new child icon. His one liners, his imagination; everything about this kid is iconic and turns a humorous story into a rager. 

And Linus. Linus. He truly is the epitome of not every person needs to be “special” to be extraordinary. In fact, it was his mundane self against the backdrop of the magical children on this magical island that truly proved the heart of the book. It was watching this man with no powers of his own connect– wholly, spiritually connect— with these children that made this story worth something. 

This is the found family trope at its highest level. The way every single character– from talia, the grumpy gnome to Lucy, the Antichrist– interacts with each other and Linus and Arthur is nothing short of heartwarming. Many books try and fail to emulate a “family bond” too quickly. No the vase here. The affection that Linus has for these kids grows quietly from their early meeting until the end. It’s an ember catching and then a fanned into a family.

It’s everything. 

And Arthur. Arthur is the father figure that I hope every child who has lost their way– or who’s had their way irrevocably shaken– finds. He is patient and passionate and kind, which is a trait severely overlooked nowadays in Love Interests. And his relationship with Arthur is subtle, but undeniably there. I loved them. 

Every single one of the children has a fully formed personality with quirks and dreams and hobbies. None of them feel like carbon copies of someone else. They are unique and every one of the is perfect in their own way. 

I really don’t know how to write reviews for books that I am simultaneously near tears at the end and positively beaming.


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