The House in the Cerulean Sea

TJ Klune

Fiction 2020 | 398 pages


TJ Klune has written 55 books!  How have I never heard of him?  Some are stand-alone; some in series.  He is decidedly gay-affirming, without being didactic.  I am attempting to determine if all of his writing includes magic.  Wikipedia tells me he writes fantasy and romance fiction.  AND he is a native Oregonian.  If you are more familiar with this author than I am, let us know!

A wide-hipped civil servant, Linus Baker, 40, leads a quiet, solitary life in a very small house. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of magical children in government-sanctioned orphanages.  Magical children are isolated and quarantined when they are young.  And what will happen to each of them when they become adults?

After 17 years of employment, Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management and receives a highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside and determine if this orphanage is a dangerous place. The children include a precocious six-year-old named Lucy, short for Lucifer, who just might be the son of Satan; a feisty garden gnome who only speaks gnomish; a plucky sprite; a shy boy who morphs into a Pomeranian when frightened; a young wyvern; and Chauncy, whose nature is a mystery … some hybrid of marine invertebrate and human … who is obsessed with becoming a bell hop when he grows up.  All of these children are under the loving and creative care of Arthur Parnassus.  Arthur is eccentric, wears awful socks under his too-short pants, and, as we discover, is “gifted” also.

What fun!!!

The vivid characters are simply magical, both in their reality and in reading about them. Of course, predictably, Linus falls in love with all of them during the month he spends on the island, sending back weekly reports to Extremely Upper Management. Both the story and Klune’s writing are enchanting, engaging, and delightful.

The tale is sometimes funny, often heartwarming. You will find yourself humming tunes by Bobby Darin and other rock & rollers, as both Lucy and Linus are big fans of old R&R.  The moral message is clear. Yes, no surprise, there are obvious ties to all sorts of discriminatory practices in our society.  Klune’s righteous message that all people deserve freedom and humanity will warm even the coldest misanthrope’s heart.

I loved this book!  I am researching his 54 others and have just put Under the Whispering Door on my library list.  Please read a TJ Klune and tell us what you think!!  (The House in the Cerulean Sea is apparently his most popular tome).

August 2022