The House in the Cerulean Sea

by TJ Klune | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 9781250217318 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 2/27/2024
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Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Tuesday, February 27, 2024
I found this softcover in my Little Free Library; thanks to whoever left it! I've read it before, and was glad of another release copy. (It's by the author of the "Tales from Verania" series including Fairytales from Verania, and the superheroes series beginning with The Extraordinaries.)

This was a very enjoyable story, gentle and sweet, with reference to darker periods in the pasts of the characters but for the most part an upbeat and hopeful tale. It opens with Linus Baker, a 40-ish fellow with a spare tire, who's a caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. Basically, he visits the orphanages (as they're called, though nobody adopts the children there) to ensure they're up to code, caring properly for the children. If they fail his assessment they could be shut down, with the children being sent to department-run schools - which may or may not be an improvement, but Linus has made a practice of keeping his involvement strictly professional, and asks no questions about what happens next.

He thinks himself content with his cramped desk in the open-plan office, and his rundown flat with a peevish landlady, where he lives with a grumpy cat and attempts to raise sunflowers for a pop of color in his grey world. When he's summoned before the Extremely Upper Management he's terrified - only to be even more upset when he's tasked to travel to a remote orphanage on an island, run by one Arthur Parnassus, and spend a month analyzing things there. (The phrasing used by the management suggest they really, really want him to find something, but Linus - for all his passive behavior - does take his job very seriously.)

The island turns out to be on a stunning cerulean sea, a vision that Linus had only seen in posters and had dreamed of for years. But when he glances into the case files of the students here, he's terrified - one of them is supposedly the Antichrist himself (!), and he can't imagine how he's supposed to follow up on a situation when there's a child who could incinerate the planet...

We get to meet the very colorful cast of characters as Linus does, with the children including the snarky Lucy (short for Lucifer - yes, he is supposedly the devil's son, and loves to make scary threats, but is actually a lover of golden-oldie music), a grumpy gnome, a young sprite, a wyvern who loves to collect things, an amorphous blob who dreams of becoming a bellhop (!), and Sal, a tall young man who's a were-Pomeranian. (Sounds funny but in practice it leaves him very shy, painfully so.)

Oh, and Arthur Parnassus, a tall, spindly guy in wildly-eclectic clothing, who's working wonders with the children and who seems very interested in Linus - and not just in a professional way...

We get to see Linus' struggles between falling in love with the place and the children (and, yes, Arthur, though he denies that as hard as he can - while the kids all seem to be shipping them enthusiastically) and doing his job to the letter. There are thoroughly charming scenes here, and some very touching ones as well, especially as Linus and his particular gift for plain speaking helps him get closer to the kids. When it seems that prejudiced townsfolk might raise a ruckus, Linus and Arthur work to calm them down - and they get some help from the more open-minded townsfolk (including a delightful record-store proprietor, who loves the enthusiasm that both Lucy and Linus have for Buddy Holly records).

Linus' month on the island will come to an end, of course, and he'll have to report back to the executives. But can he really leave this now-beloved place and its more-beloved people behind?

While there are some suspenseful scenes here and there, they tend to get resolved fairly quickly, and overall it's a pleasantly low-angst story with a truly lovely ending.

[There's a TV Tropes page on the book, with some entertaining tidbits.]

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at LFL [OBCZ] - New Searles Rd, #46 in Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Friday, March 1, 2024

Released 1 mo ago (3/1/2024 UTC) at LFL [OBCZ] - New Searles Rd, #46 in Nashua, New Hampshire USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

I put this book back in my LFL after registering it. Hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

Released for:

** 2024 4 Elements challenge **

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