Book Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (ARC)

The House in the Cerulean Sea

Author: TJ Klune

Publication Date: 17 March 2020

Genre: Adult Fiction – Fantasy

Pages: 352

Publisher: Tor Books

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.

To say that my heart needed The House in the Cerulean Sea this week is probably the understatement of the century. This book was heartwarming, enchanting, magical, diverse, absolutely ludicrous, and the best fantasy love story all wrapped up in one big bow.

The story starts off with Linus Baker who is, for all intents and purposes, an overweight and severely average case worker who works for the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth (DICOMY). He visits magical orphanages and recommends whether they should remain open or not. He has been doing the same job for the last seventeen years. He doesn’t wish to be promoted. His job suits him just fine.

One day, Linus is unexpectedly assigned to Marsyas Island Orphanage by Extremely Upper Management. The orphanage is a level four classified and houses six of the most dangerous magical children: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist (yep, you read that right). Clearly there must be some mistake, but Linus is determined to complete his reports thoroughly and objectively and hurry back to his typical life at DICOMY. But what if the children and Arthur, the master of the orphanage, are not what they seem?

First off, every single character (okay minus Linus’ boss at DICOMY who is a nasty piece of work) in this book was amazing. As soon as you meet six year old Lucifer ‘Lucy’, you can’t help but fall in love with this little boy who has thoughts of destroying the world but just wants to be a kid. My heart constantly yearned for Sal the teenage boy that turned into a pomeranian sized werewolf whenever he was terrified. We don’t know exactly what Theodore is since Theodore is a green blob with tentacles, but all Theodore wants is to be a bellhop. I could go on and on.

Once of the best things about this story though is watching Linus’ character arc develop and change. I’m not gonna lie, the beginning of the story is a bit of a slog because Linus was just so boring and predictable. However, the Linus and the beginning is not the Linus at the end, so if the story starts off slow for you, power through! You won’t be disappointed.

The representation in this story was fantastic. You have queer romance, non-binary characters, morally grey characters, etc. Nothing is this story is black and white, and I was here for all of it!

Okay, let me stop gushing and just say give this book a chance. It really makes you think about what it means to love and also the definition of home and family. I can’t recommend this one enough!

Thank you to Tor Books for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.


  1. I read this, and oh my gosh, yes, my heart needed it, too, and I didn’t even know it. I totally melted! I loved this book so much that I’m already planning on buying myself a copy. As you said, it was pretty much just impossible not to fall head-over-heels in love with (most) of these characters, and this book had a little bit of everything. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ohmygosh, a pomeranian sized werewolf!? That had me cackling but also that sounds insanely adorable! I’m sold even more on this book and these characters. I definitely think a heartwarming read is what I need right now ❤ Wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well darn! I don’t know how I’ll fit this into my TBR, but after reading your review I have to! It sounds like a delightful read. Thanks for sharing it with me.

    Liked by 1 person

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