Hello Kittens! It may have taken me over half the year, but I’ve found my personal contender for best book of the year. This book is sweet and has memorable characters and will make you laugh as well as cry. It is a story about accepting differences and really getting to know people for who they are and not just how we see them. This title released just as the pandemic was really beginning to hit hard in the U.S., but I’ve seen this book getting some buzz in the YouTube community. I really hope it doesn’t get lost in this year of weird happenings. I have been singing its praises since before I even finished it, and I even kept it a few extra days from the library since I knew it had holds and I wasn’t going to get it back for a while (the fines are going to be pretty decent).
Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
Publish date: March 17, 2020
Linus Baker does not live an extraordinary life. He gets up, gets ready, goes to work for several hours, comes home, feeds his cat, has an unpleasant conversation with his neighbor, listens to some records, then goes to bed. Each day is remarkably similar. He believes in the work he is doing for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, inspecting orphanages to make sure that the children are being cared for as they should be. He has something of a reputation for his objective reports on his different cases. He takes his guidance from a large tome known as the RULES AND REGULATIONS, which he reads from daily.
Linus is very good at his job but never seeks promotion from it. So he is very surprised when one day he is summoned by Extremely Upper Management and given a top-secret assignment. It is so secret that they won’t even tell him any of the details until he reaches the location of the next orphanage. When he arrives, he opens the files regarding the children whom he is there to look into and faints dead away. This will be his most challenging assignment ever, and Linus isn’t at all sure he is the man for the job, or that Extremely Upper Management have provided him with the tools and information to succeed.
Linus will spend the next several weeks studying this orphanage, the children who live there, and the headmaster who is in charge of it all. He will make sure that the environment is safe and that the children are being cared for. He will do all of this to the standards set forth in the rule book. From the moment he steps on the campus, Linus discovers that these children are extremely challenging, the headmaster is extremely mysterious, and the environment is extremely secluded. He’ll encounter townspeople who are less than thrilled to have the children living nearby while dealing with cryptic and semi-threatening messages from the home office.
Why I liked it:
This book is utterly charming. Linus’ character development is well-paced and engaging. The children are all absolutely delightful, even when they’re being nightmares. The story deals with challenging all sorts of preconceived notions and prejudices. At its heart, it’s a story about morals and how we should strive to treat each other. Readers will delight in Linus’ development and the strides made by the children and townspeople. I laughed, cried, and was heartbroken at times. This was a 5 star read in every sense of the word.
What I would like to change:
I would like a sequel please. I’m not ready to leave these characters behind yet.
Disclaimer: No disclaimer needed. I checked this book out from my library.
My library rating: This was a really tough rating to give out. I want to recommend this book to everyone because it is beautiful, but I know that some people will object to a male/male romance, even if it is relatively chaste. That being said, I think some people might be able to look past that on this one because of the writing, and others will be thrilled to see queer representation (a directly stated goal of the author, who self-identifies as queer). While there is a romance, it is in no way steamy. If there is such a genre as a Cozy Literary Fantasy, this would fall squarely within it.
4 glasses of lemonade= a book you could recommend to a book group or anybody who reads. You might find controversial subject matter, but it is handled delicately.
My personal preference rating: I gave this title 5 stars. It is my absolute favorite read of the year so far.