The House In The Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA
Today, in honour of Friday Favourites, I am reviewing a recent read which is a favourite of millions of readers globally. Published in 2020 to wide acclaim (the @goodreads rating is frankly astonishing – nearly 191k reviews with 4.89 star average), featuring on international best seller lists and winning awards well into 2021. This is now available in paperback and is a continued commercial success.
When I opened this book kindly sent to us by publishers @torbooks@panmacmillan the many gushing reviews were at the forefront of my mind. If I am being honest, my modus operandi is to read hyped books with a heightened critical eye to truly assess if it lives up to expectation. I couldn’t help but fall for the characters and plot.
Introverted, isolated Linus Barker is a caseworker overseeing orphanages run by the Department in charge of Magical Youth. He is sent on a classified assignment to an Island where six dangerous children are cared for by the enigmatic, charming Arthur Parnassus. Sounds like a teen/young adult, fantasy novel that shouldn’t be so universally popular right?
Reading the first 100 pages I would have agreed. However once the plot develops and the VERY nuanced messages of Identity, family and community begin to percolate, this book transcends those parameters. The fears of Linus breaking free from the status quo, the intense societal fear of innocent children and the resulting fear the children harbour towards the outside world make this so utterly relevant and compelling.
The author @tjklunebooks is a strident promulgator of queer books and that element of the story is deftly woven in with delicacy. This book has a witty soul (one of the kids is the anti-Christ and steals every scene).
What I think strikes a chord with readers is the underlying theme of being different, the anxieties which emanate and the process of accepting yourself which is conveyed in a multitude of powerful ways. By the end I understood the hype.