ARC Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Books for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The House in the Cerulean Sea
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication date: 17 March 2020
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Panda Rating:


A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

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.

Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.

“It’s the little things. Little treasures we find without knowing their origin. And they come when we least expect them. It’s beautiful, when you think about it.”

Someone, please tell me why I choose to do silly things like putting off reading this book for ages despite seeing it being raved about all over the book community. I’m going to preface this by saying I will ramble in this review because this book was just… EVERYTHING! It’s like one massive hug that makes you feel warm, safe, and so incredibly happy that you don’t know what to do with yourself.

“Because people aren’t black and white. No matter how hard you try, you can’t stay on one path without diversions. And that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.”

You know that feeling when you read about something positive and your heart swells with happiness and hope? And as you keep reading your heart grows bigger and bigger with all the positivity that it almost feels like you’re floating on a cloud of warmth and pure goodness? Well, that’s what reading this book felt like and it was so beautiful! Now that I’ve finished it I just want to go back and stay in this little bubble of warmth forever. I’m the worst with choosing “top reads” but I can say with certainty that this book is one of my top 2020 reads!

“Home is where we get to be who we are.”

Though this may be fantasy, there are many parallels to our real world that make it such a timely and important read. I was constantly highlighting big chunks of the book on my Kindle because the commentary so deeply resonated with me and what I’ve seen and experienced in our society today. That said, these ‘messages’ don’t feel overwhelming or like Klune is trying to push an agenda. This book is so on trend with keeping an open mind and how to be more mindful of others, and critical of what we’ve come to accept as our “norm”. I found myself utterly charmed by the writing, the story, and especially the characters.

“I’m just me, […]I don’t know how to be anyone but who I already am. This is how I’ve always been. It’s not much, but I do the best I can with what I have.”

I thought I would have a favourite character but as we learn more about them (and there are quite a few players although the story is only told through Linus’ perspective), I found myself falling in love with all of them. I did have a particular soft spot for Sal, the teenage boy who shifts into a pomeranian when scared. Oh, my heart just broke for this sweet, sweet boy and I wanted to scoop him carefully into my arms and shield him from all the monstrous humans who made him feel less than. 😭 But I pretty much felt that way about all of the children at some point. They’re so precious and you can bet that I shed more than a couple of tears listening to what they experienced!

“Change often starts with the smallest of whispers. Like-minded people building it up to a roar.”

Also, experiencing the immense growth in Linus’ journey as he goes from being someone who doesn’t allow himself to feel anything and is happy not questioning the status quo of his life, to being someone who will stand up for himself and those he cares about and is filled with a furious passion for a cause that means so much to him, was so. incredibly. satisfying! YAS, LINUS!!! 👏🏽 There’s also a super sweet and touching slow-burn M/M romance and well, I don’t think I can name two people who are more perfect for each other. Oh, how I loved their love! 🥰 

“You’re too precious to put into words. I think… it’s like one of Theodore’s buttons. If you asked him why he cared about them so, he would tell you it’s because they exist at all.”

I could honestly keep gushing about this book because I loved so much about it, but it’s a story that you should all experience for yourselves, and trust me, you will be richer for reading it!

TL;DR: Read this if you like:
✓ To feel all the happy + good feels
✓ A well-written thought-provoking story full of heart (and magic)
✓ Older male protagonists (40+) with a sweet slow burn M/M romance
✓ A realistic and unlikely hero that you will learn from, grow with, and root for
✓ Witty, dry and sarcastic humour that will have you frequently laughing out loud
✓ Wonderfully weird, charming and endearing magical children who will definitely steal your heart
✓ A healthy dose of the found family feels (a personal fave)

Have you read The House in the Cerulean Sea or is it on your TBR?

13 thoughts on “ARC Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

  1. What a fantastic review! I can just feel your love for this book shining through. It sounds fantastic – and definitely the type of thing that I’d really enjoy. Thanks for the recommendation, definitely going to have to check this out!

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  2. Awesome review! & YES to “Older male protagonists (40+) with a sweet slow burn M/M romance” we don’t see enough of this. I have this book on my shelves wondering why I haven’t started it yet even though everyone loves it so much. It’s happening, Linus & his character growth is exactly what I need in my life. Happy reading! ❤

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  3. I’ve heard incredible things about this one! And you giving it 5stars…. I mean… I need to reading this book as soon as possible (I wonder how many books are on my “asap reading list” 😀 )

    Thank you for reviewing it, hun! ❤

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