Desert Isle Keeper
The House in the Cerulean Sea
The House in the Cerulean Sea is just lovely! My heart is so full and happy after reading this enchanting story by TJ Klune. I can’t wait to read it again!
Linus Baker, forty-year-old bachelor and cat-owner, is a caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY), and his job is to visit and evaluate the state of the DICOMY orphanages that house children with magical abilities. He has done his job so well that he is summoned by Extremely Upper Management and given a highly classified assignment – visit the island of Marsyas and investigate how the orphanage and its master are doing. Linus has never heard of the place and is quite concerned about the situation. He gets on a train and heads to the island armed with files outlining what DICOMY knows of the master and the six children in his care. Linus promptly faints after reading the first child’s report.
Arthur Parnassus, forty-five-year-old master of the orphanage on Marsyas Island, is in charge of quite a diverse group of children; a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the son of the devil. Some would see trouble; Arthur sees children. He is devoted to giving his charges a ‘normal”’, happy childhood while preparing them for the prejudices they will inevitably meet when they leave the island and enter the real world. And he loves them dearly.
Linus arrives on the island and gets to work. Never mind that the gnome would like to bury him in her garden – I’ve never buried anyone before. It would be a learning experience for both of us. Or that he just received a special greeting from Lucy (aka six-year-old Lucifer):
“It’s nice to see you,” Lucy singsonged before giggling. “I knew you’d come, Mr. Baker. Though, by the time I’m done with you, you’ll wish you hadn’t.” The smile widened until it seemed like his face would split in half. Flames began to rise behind him…”I’m going to enjoy this far more than you could ever -”
“That’s enough, Lucy.”
And just like that, everything switched off…
“I was just having some fun,” Lucy muttered, scuffing his shoe against the porch. “I’m hellfire. I am the darkest parts of – “
“You still need to have a bath after supper,” the voice said, and Linus felt his heart skip a beat. “Perhaps we could save the hellfire and the darkest parts for tomorrow.”
Lucy shrugged. “Okay.” And then he ran past Linus into the house, shouting for Talia and Chauncey. “Did you see what I did? He was so scared!”
And Linus is scared. But he has a job to do and he decides to learn as much as he can about the orphanage on Marsyas Island during his three-week stay. Of course, in the end, Linus learns much more about himself, what he truly believes, and what he is capable of doing.
The House in the Cerulean Sea is a masterfully told story of love and belonging. Linus is just trying to live his life as quietly as he can. He’s not particularly happy, but he is not really unhappy either – just neutral. He yearns for something more, but even that yearning is unacknowledged. Arthur has yearned for more for a long time and is creating this “more” with the children on Marsyas Island. He has created a beautiful refuge for his charges and will protect them at any cost. Now he has to protect them from Linus and DICOMY. He needs to make Linus see that the children are just that, children, who are more than their label, more than the world has decided to see.
I fell in love with Arthur right from the start. His dedication to the children, sense of humor, and appreciation for the ridiculous make him eminently likeable. What makes him lovable is the way he interacts with the children – his discussions with Lucy regarding Kant and moral philosophy, his belief in the children’s inherent goodness, his insistence that hope is a powerful force in the world. Linus is lovable as well but he has to learn to believe in himself, his value, and his own right to choose what he wants and who he wants in his life. The love story between Arthur and Linus develops slowly and is beautifully written. Two souls finding a mate and a common purpose in a topsy-turvy world.
In The House in the Cerulean Sea, TJ Klune has woven a charming story sprinkled with timeless bits of wisdom and filled it with characters who will delight and impress you equally. The humor in the story is wonderful too. All in all – just perfect!
This is the first book I’ve read by Klune and I am off to catch up on what I’ve been missing. I just wish I could do it sitting on the beach on Marsyas Island.