The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Linus does things by the book. He feels comfortable in the rules, in the way things are supposed to adhere to rigidity. That’s why he’s so good at his job! He is an inspector for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He travels around the country to make sure that the orphanages are running correctly, that the children are safe. Linus is able to detach himself from any of the feelings or emotional baggage that a lesser case worker may get caught up on.

Until he is called to a meeting with Extreme Upper Management. He’s worried and scared. What has he done wrong? His job is the only thing he has! But to his and his boss’s surprise, he is given a special assignment. He will travel to a classified location. A secret orphanage that houses the most unique cases. Even the people in the local village are paid hush money to keep the Marsyas Island Orphanage under wraps. Six children reside in the old house: a female gnome, a powerful sprite, a wyvern, a boy/ Pomeranian changeling, a blob whose dream is to be a bellhop, and the antichrist. Their lessons are headed up by Arthur Parnassus, a enigmatic man who Linus is drawn to. His long-held rules start to bend, and there may be some feeling about to be felt…

Klune’s pacing is impeccable. He doles out just enough of the background of the island in the form of reports sent with Linus from Upper Management. And these characters are certainly unforgettable. As readers we’ve been given plenty of stories about secret magical schools, but I’ll tell you that this one is different. Linus is different, and his development is magical itself.

I read through this one in just a couple days. It served as the greatest salve in a stressful week. The House is a hopeful narrative that breaks through the fear of the ‘other.’ I will happily recommend it to my students and all readers who love fantasy. It’s a special one!

5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, Tor Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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