Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
What a delightful delightful book The House in the Cerulean Sea has turned out to be. I couldn’t wait to finish it to begin writing about it. Let’s go then.
Linus Baker is a dedicated government official, resigned to and grateful for his in-the-rut existence, a mere cog in the massive Government machinery. He has always been a wallflower and has learnt that that was the best way to survive in the rather Orwellian world he lives in.
His job as a caseworker is to inspect and report orphanages that are home to children with magical abilities. The children are perceived as threats to ‘normal’ people and are sequestered in these orphanages.
Linus goes about his job with clinical precision. He might be a staid rule-follower but he’s good at what he does and is reasonably satisfied with his life.
However, somedays, just somedays, specially when he has been caught in a drenching downpour once too often, his wistful gaze lingers on a picture of white sands and cerulean seas which he knows he’ll never get to see.
And then one day he is assigned to a special, super secret mission — that of inspecting an orphanage on an island that houses six magical children and is headed by a rather mysterious master.
That is the beginning of a life-changing adventure for Linus.
I really don’t want to give away more of the plot because this book needs to be read and savoured and experienced in all its completeness.
What I loved
There’s so so much to love in this amazing fantasy of a book.
First there’s Linus. Forty years old with thinning hair and a rather rotund figure, Linus Baker is a very unlikely hero but a hero he most certainly is, in every sense of the word. At the start of the book he’s quiet and mild and rather timid but then he finds his feet and learns to stand up for people who matter to him.
The world-building is brilliant. The contrast between Linus’ old life and the one at the island is so stark, so uplifting that I found myself smiling right from the moment he lands at the island.
The children are delightful — grumpy and dangerous and threatening yet so very delightful. And there’s the master of the orphanage, Arthur — quiet and likeable with a secret of his own.
What’s better, beneath all this ‘adorableness’ there is an important message — that of inclusiveness and kindness and of making space for all kinds of people. The book makes one look at children for what they are – innocent and a little lost but capable of great things with love and guidance.
This was a book I didn’t want to end right up to the epilogue.
What could have been better
Going by the way the book made me feel I really have nothing to complain about. That said, the plot isn’t extraordinary. One may even find it predictable and simplistic. That The House in the Cerulean Sea manages to weave magic despite that, is just one more reason to read it.
When I first put it on my TBR a friend said I should read it with the twins and I’ll pass on the same advice to you — Read it with your children.
Last thought: If you like fantasy, this is a book you just have to read.