The House in the Cerulean Sea | Book Review

Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
Publisher: Tor Books
Publish Date: March 17, 2020
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Romance, LGBT+, Fiction
Pages: 394
Format: Paperback

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.


The best way I can describe this book is a warm hug when you least expected it but definitely needed it. This book was incredibly charming and whimsical down to the final word.

First off, the writing was very whimsical, as well as witty. There were many moments where I laughed out loud because of something a character said or did, as well as moments I cried because of how incredibly heart-warming the moment was. It was a roller coaster to be able to read something that could pack so much emotion into one story.

The characters were all so incredibly charming! Well, the main cast, anyway, comprising of the six kids, Linus, Arthur, and several others along the way. I have never felt so connected to characters and their stories before, but I felt my heart strings being pulled as I read this novel. You’ll find yourself head over heels in love with the kids – I seriously wanted to just protect them all and give them all the parental love ever. The adults in the story, too, were in situations often that could be reminiscent of the real world (as this story had real world aspects), and it was a joy to read about Linus’ growing attachment to the family and how he really discovered himself among them.

The romance in the book was subtle, interwoven expertly throughout the pages. There were definitely moments where you knew that something was brewing between the two, but then something would happen to cause them to have to break away. It was so very adorable and wholesome. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book.

Let’s talk about the children because I really feel like they were the stars of the show. The kids were each very unique – not just in powers and what they were, but also their personalities. I found myself wanting to know more about them, to see how they progress into the future and what happens later on, but I guess that’s the beauty of this story is how contained it is. TJ Klune wrote the children in a way that leaves you wanting to care for them, of wanting to befriend them and spend time with them.

It definitely focused more heavily on one of the children, but the others were still woven very nicely into the story throughout and at different times were they allowed to shine. I do wish that more could have been delved into, but at the same time that wasn’t the true purpose of the story, plus sometimes it’s good to not know every detail and come up with a solution yourself.

I think the subtle magical and fantasy aspects were well done. There are orphanages who take care of magical youth, and this house by the sea happens to be one of them. The magic that the kids possess are very different, and sometimes surprising.

The story sets out to promise hope, love, familial connection, and finding your true strengths and place in the world. I think it accomplished each of those things and I highly recommend you check out this book if you just need a break from all of the hard things in the world.

Rating: 5 out of 5.