Pride Reads: “The House in the Cerulean Sea” by T.J. Klune
Next up for Pride Reads is The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune, an enchanting modern fantasy about the dangers of preconceived notions and the joy you can find in life if you let go of what you think should be and embrace what could be.
The House in the Cerulean Sea is the story of Linus, a caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, who is chosen for a very special assignment – investigating an orphanage essentially in the middle of nowhere, where DICOMY sends their most “extreme” cases. (For example, the Antichrist.) It will be Linus’s job, over the course of the month he will spend on the island, to report back absolutely everything he can learn not only about the children but also about the master of the orphanage, Arthur.
Linus is all too relatable as a protagonist. He’s older than he wants to be, heavier than he’d like to be, stuck in a drudging job. He lives in a little house with nosey neighbors and a cat that doesn’t really like him, and his only real source of joy is in his records and his sunflowers. I mean, aside from the sunflowers, Linus could be me.
The assignment that he is given throws his life into a tailspin, because he is forced to leave his comforting (if soul-destroying) routine and venture into the unknown, with children who are deemed dangerous, in a location far away from anywhere he’s ever been. I think everyone can relate to the fear and uncertainty of taking your life in a new direction, especially as you get older. When I was 25, I moved to New York City with no job, no place to live, and $2000 in savings. I don’t think I could do something like that now, so I have a lot of respect for Linus’s situation.
During his investigation, Linus must confront his preconceived notions on magical creatures, realizing that he doesn’t know as much as he thought he did, that what he thought he knew may be wrong, and that the rules and restrictions involved in governing magical creatures may not be in the best interests of all. Linus’s growing attachment to the children in Arthur’s care leads him to become more assertive, standing up to the bigotry the children face in the nearby village.
The House in the Cerulean Sea is so unbelievably charming. Every character is lovely and endearing (except the ones who aren’t), and you will start to root for all of them. This book is a fantastic look at examining your own prejudices and biases, and uses magical children as a not-so-subtle metaphor for children of other races, religions, or sexualities. Even while Linus is still terrified of little Lucy (short for Lucifer), he is appalled by the behavior of others, because after all, he is just a child.
It is also a book about the importance of living the life you want, and not just the life you’re expected to. It’s about finding the place where you belong, even if it is not at all where you imagined it to be. Linus spends the entire book fighting his feelings, attempting to convince himself that his time on the island is temporary. The older you get, the harder it is to turn your back on everything you’ve known, so Linus’s struggle is something I could strongly identify with.
If you’re looking for a sweet read, I highly recommend this book. Even with the looming threat of the orphanage being closed and the children being lost to the system, there is never truly any fear that anything bad will happen to them, because you can tell from the cheerful language and the vivid descriptions that this book will have a happy ending. And I think, particularly during Pride Month, that we could all use more queer stories with happy endings.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune is published by Tor Books and is currently available wherever books are sold.
Check out more of our Pride Reads!
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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