First Impression Friday: “The House in the Cerulean Sea” by T.J. Klune

I’ve been on the waiting list for this book at my local library since February, and it finally came in this past weekend. At this point, much like many of the other books I’ve been on the waiting list for months for, I’ve completely forgotten everything about it but remembered I put it on the list because everyone seemed to really like it (it was on a lot of Top Ten Tuesday lists at the beginning of the year).

From GoodReads:

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. 

The House in the Cerulean Sea

When I was younger, I loved reading books like Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism, which dealt with British orphans who figured out they had incredible powers. I even wrote a book of my own involving British orphans who get plane-wrecked on their way to be adopted in the US, and while it’s a bit embarrassing to think about now, when I was writing it in fifth grade (in a composition notebook!), I thought it was the most amazing thing ever.

The book starts off with Linus Baker visiting an orphanage where a young girl with telekinesis has attacked one of the other children at the orphanage, breaking his tail. Linus files the report when he gets back to the office, and the second chapter is spent detailing Linus’s sad life. He’s forty, and he has nobody in his life except his cat and his extremely nosey neighbor. The office life he lives is full of drudgery and fear, and he’s been there for seventeen years.

So far, the book’s pretty depressing, but re-reading the summary for this book has me extremely interested in what happens next (I’m looking forward to that were-Pomeranian, for sure). While I’m not quite as old as Linus, and while my office isn’t quite as soul-sucking as what he seems to encounter on the daily, I feel for him. The pandemic has had us trapped in our house (with the exception of the honeymoon we took to the mountains) for the past eighteen months. I’m ready for something new in my life.

Have you read The House in the Cerulean Sea? What were your thoughts? Do you understand Linus now that you’re older and work in an office? (Fun fact: when I got my office job, my husband made me watch Office Space. At the time, I thought it was satire. Now I know it’s a documentary.) Let me know in the comments!

And as always, keep reading.

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