The House in the Cerulean Sea, by T.J. Klune

Linus Baker is a drone. He knows this. His bosses know this. The only thing that makes the protagonist of T.J. Klune’s sweetly affecting novel, The House in the Cerulean Sea, different from all the other office drones is that he really does care about his job. Linus works as an inspector for the Department in Charge of Magic Youth, overseeing operations at various orphanages that house children with magical abilities. He is scrupulously fair about reporting his observations and always has the welfare of the children uppermost in his mind. Of course, once he leaves, it’s up to others to carry out his recommendations. Linus doesn’t think too much about that part. At least, he doesn’t think too much about what comes after his reports until he makes an extended visit to a special orphanage on a remote island.

Everything about Linus’ trip to Arthur Parnassus’ orphanage is unorthodox. Linus only has the minimum of documentation about Parnassus’ unusual wards (one of whom is apparently the Antichrist and another is, well, no one knows what he is). He has to take his cat with him because it’s too short notice to get a pet-sitter. Linus is supposed to spend a month at this orphanage, which is far longer than normal. It’s so long that Linus can’t help but get involved with Parnassus’ charges and see them as much more than the monsters they’ve been labeled as. It’s so long that Linus has a chance to understand Parnassus’ methods of treating his charges as the damaged, special people they really are—no matter what they look like. Unfortunately, it is clear to everyone but the obliviously upright Linus that he is not supposed to have a favorable report about Parnassus’ operation.

The House in the Cerulean Sea was just what I needed after reading something as heavy as Beloved. Although there are plenty of incidents of bigotry, this book was so full of love and acceptance that I nearly cried at its beautiful resolution. I adored the characters—from Linus’ intolerance of rudeness to Parnassus’ determination to Lucy’s (Lucifer) macabre sense of humor to Chauncey’s hope to be a bellboy to Theodore the wyvern’s horde to Sal’s fragility—and was so happy and relieved to see that there would be a happy ending for them. This book was a joy to read.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

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