House in the Cerulean Sea, The
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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. However, when Linus finds himself on the Island of Marsyas, tasked with inspecting the orphanage there run by Arthur Parnassus, an orphanage like no other, he is completely unprepared for what awaits him!
From the first scene, this is pointed out to him by a witch at an orphanage he's assessing, and while it presumably hits home, he doesn't analyze it much. Mix these elements, bake until sweet golden brown, take out of the oven and enjoy fresh and hot with your best friends . But when Linus is assigned to investigate an island orphanage for magical children deemed especially dangerous, his world unlocks.
But when he is summoned by Extremely Upper Management for an urgent meeting, he realizes his simple life will change forever. Despite considering himself a mere cog in a much bigger wheel, his rule-following and to the point reports have caught their eye. However, Linus is assigned to a top-secret mission: to inspect an orphanage for five very special magical creatures and their leader, Arthur. It had strong messages and themes at its heart, and yes, sometimes these messages were hammered home a bit, and perhaps could have been conveyed a bit more subtly, but that didn't stop the themes from resonating. Now that I’ve read The House in the Cerulean Sea I can’t believe it took me so long to read it, but I’m so glad this story was my first novel of 2021.
It sucker-punched me in the found family feels, it carried me along with a slow, gentle romance, and it breathed life into my heart with the protective love the book is steeped with. You can just tell By about page 5 that the MC’s arc will be about finding himself, a found family and self realisation. However, disregarding that, it was a beautiful fantasy tale pushing the merits of accepting people who are different for who they are. ETA September 2023: Holy Prussin Ratf*** I have just learned that this book was inspired by the "sixties scoop" https://indigenousfoundations.
I know part of the reason I didn't like it very much is how much it wasn't my "type"; I found it very cringe-inducing a lot of the time because of how unlike actual human beings the characters acted. Whilst in the book these themes are explored in relation to Magical Beings and how they are treated and viewed by humans, they are of course just as translatable in real life. Without any idea as to exactly why he has been sent to the island, Linus sends his weekly reports, providing his employers with information about the children.
TJ Klune has so far written 29 novels, most of them focusing on the LGBTQ+ community, with many of them written in the fantasy genre. The lead character is not one of the powerful kids, but an older man, rare in fantasy books, and his journey of self discovery just warmed my heart. But yes, those are the grown-up details that only occur after you finish reading it, or when you have to go back to real life and pay the insurance bill or something like that.There’s Talia the garden gnome; Chauncey the tentacle ‘monster’; Sal the were-Pomeranian; Theodore the wyvern; Phee the forest sprite; and Lucy, the son of Satan. I will never be able to gather the proper words to accurately express how I marvel at the magic of this story.