A book-loving friend recently posted that she was reading The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, and when I read the synopsis, this quickly became my most anticipated book of 2020. It sounded like the perfect blend of Harry Potter meets Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,with some 1984 and Umbrella Academy thrown in there, too.
TJ Klune is a young adult and children’s author who (being gay himself) believes in positive queer representation in his novels. The House in the Cerulean Sea is no exception.
Summary: I’m not going to over-summarize this book for you, because I want you–no, I NEED you–to read it for yourself. I was so excited to get my hands on this book. I spent a few weeks desperately searching on the BOTM buy/swap pages, and finally caved and spent the $16 for the paperback on Amazon. Zero regrets. But here is what you need to know about The House in the Cerulean Sea:
Linus Baker, a rules and regulations following case worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY), is a forty-year-old man who prefers the solitary company of his cranky cat and old records in the quiet of his tiny home. Linus’ job is to oversee the well-being of magical children in government-run orphanages. When Linus is summoned by Extremely Upper Management and given a highly-classified new case to investigate, it’s Linus’ job to travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage and evaluate whether six dangerous children (a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist) should remain in the orphanage under the care of their enigmatic Master, Arthur Parnassus…and determine if they will bring about the end of days.
GoodReads quotes: “The House in the Cerulean Sea is an enchanting love story, masterfully told, about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.”
The book jacket quotes V.E. Schwab (author of another BOTY finalist on my to-be read list, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue): “It is like being wrapped up in a big gay blanket. Simply perfect.”
And simply perfect, it was. I read this 400 page beauty in less than 2 days (it would have been shorter, but I have this pesky thing called a job I had to resume this week after a blissful 2 weeks off for the holidays. This job thing is really starting to affect my reading).
Characters: My favorite thing about this book was the characters. OMG, THE CHARACTERS! Even the grumpy, rule-following Linus Baker was so endearing (even more so as the book progressed). The children were simply enigmatic–I have never loved characters in a fiction novel the way I loved Lucy, Talia, Phee, Theodore, Sal, and Chauncey. I have not fallen in love with a book this way since Harry Potter. When I finished this book, I was sad–like genuinely sad, book hang-over, I-can’t-start-a-new-book-yet-because-I-need-to-pay-my-respects-to-this-beautifully-written-piece-of-fiction kind of sad. Arthur was everything you wanted and more as a leader for these magical children.
Who would have thought I’d fall in love with the 6 year old character, Lucy, short for Lucipher, aka the AntiChrist? He is what you would expect, but so, so much more. Like any 6 year old, Lucy likes to say things for dramatic effect (often threatening Linus’ untimely demise in creative and disturbing detail). Although he is the son of the devil, with Arthur’s guidance and reassurance, Lucy learns to keep “the spiders in his brain” (the inherent evil he inherited from his father) at bay. Lucy and Arthur teach us the true meaning of nature vs. nurture, and that we do not have to become anything we don’t want to be.
You know how you hope for a certain ending, and you read with bated breath hoping for that ending, and then the actual ending surprises you but turns out to be even better than the original ending you had hoped for?
Yep. That’s right. You need to read this book.
Five out of five stars for TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea (I would give it more, if it were acceptable to rate over five stars). I absolutely loved this book.