The House in the Cerulean Sea — T.J. Klune

January 24, 2022

45046567TITLE: The House in the Cerulean Sea
AUTHOR: T.J. Klune
GENRE: Fantasy
PAGES: 398pg

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.

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His thoughts were all cerulean.

I don’t even know how to begin describing this book, or what it meant to me. It’s incredibly rare that I give a book “favorite book” status; while there are loads of books I love a lot, if you asked me what my all-time favorites are, my responses would be very limited because “favorite” is a word that carries a lot of weight for me. When a book does get “favorite” book status, it’s usually a year or more after I’ve read the book, when I realize that it’s still weighing on my heart a lot or has really impacted my life in a long-term way. And yet, I started telling people this was a new favorite book of all time before I even finished reading it.

He remembered the way Arthur smiled, the way he laughed, the way he existed here on this island as if he had everything in the world he could ever want. It pulled at him, and he thought of how his world had been cold and wet and gray until he’d come here. It felt like he was seeing in color for the first time.

I have tabbed this book within an inch of its life and highlighted quotes on nearly every single page. I read this like you’d eat your favorite specialty dessert, in slow little bites, savoring it and never ready for it to be over. The moment I closed the cover, I strongly considering flipping back to the first page and starting over, right then and there.

“I don’t know why you can’t see it.”
“See what?”
“You. Everything you are.”

So many people recommended this book to me by describing it as “if a book could be a warm hug” or something along those lines, and every single one of those people were absolutely correct, because this is one of the most loving, comforting, kindest stories I’ve ever read. Sure, it has moments that made me ache, but each hurt was swiftly soothed over with how endearing, hilarious, delightful, and soft these characters are. There’s not a single hard heart among the main cast, not a bone of meanness to be found in Linus, Arthur, or any of the House’s residents.

She bared her teeth. “I was never in the system, Mr. Baker. My line is far older than the rules of men. Just because you have decided that all magical beings need to be tagged in the wild for tracking doesn’t give you the right to question me or my legal status.”

I keep trying to make myself actually talk about the plot, or the writing, or the world-building — all of which are lovely, don’t get me wrong — but the thing is, T.J. Klune carefully stepped back with all of those things and allowed the characters and the dialogue to shine through. This is an incredibly character-driven story that relies on you loving the characters to love the book as a whole. Luckily, they’re incredibly easy to fall for.

Calliope, a thing of evil, sat on the edge of his bed, black tail twitching as she watched him with bright green eyes. She started purring. In most cats, it would be a soothing sound. In Calliope, it indicated devious plotting involving nefarious deeds.

Much like The House in the Cerulean Sea has instantly reached the point of being an all-time favorite book, I strongly suspect T.J. Klune is rapidly become an all-time favorite author. This wasn’t the first work of his I’ve read, and it also absolutely will not be the last.

content warnings →
WARNINGS (no spoilers):

Linus is gay and fat; Arthur is queer; a side character is Black

representation →

fat-shaming (internal and external), bigotry (judgment & hatred of magical children), mentions of past child abuse


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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. yes, yes, yes. I agree with everything you said. I also just recently read this and really enjoyed it! I had a hard time getting into the story but once I did I was hooked! It was such a beautiful story. I think Chauncey was my favorite because he was just a pure soul! I was scared to read it because of all the hype but sure lived up to it. So glad to hear you enjoyed this too! <3

    1. Great review Destiny!! When I first started it I thought it was a cute story but it was over hyped but by the time I had finished it I had fallen in love with it. It’s truly an amazing book.

    1. Great Review! I’m SO happy to see that you loved The House in the Cerulean Sea ?? It took me completely by surprise last year and became one of my favorites as well! The book is truly so comforting ? The found family, the tender slowburn romance, I loved it all!

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