Book Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea

03.17.2020 | Tor Books
Rating: 5/5 stars


Linus Baker lives a quiet, solitary life. He spends his days working as a case worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth and his nights at home with his ornery cat listening to records. Linus has evaluated many government sanctioned orphanages housing children with a variety of magical abilities. He has been summoned by Extremely Upper Management to take on a classified case. He must travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage where six reportedly dangerous children live: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. The island holds secrets beyond just the children, with one being the charming caretaker, Arthur Parnassus. As Linus gets to know Arthur and the children he finds this is an orphanage unlike any other he has been to and he must make a decision that could either shatter their world or keep them safe.


I can’t remember the last time I picked up a fantasy book that managed to not only sweep me away to a magical world, but also embrace me like a warm hug. From the moment I first met Linus I knew I would follow him anywhere and then the children of the orphanage came in and truly stole the show. Despite being a YA book, this is a timeless story of finding that being different is nothing to be ashamed about.

Klune has created not just a fantastical island with Marsyas, but also an entire world that has a bit of a dystopian vibe surrounding it where being a magical individual is something to keep locked away. The message is clear from the youth being put away in orphanages that being magical is wrong. These individuals are something you should fear and that the government needs to monitor them. Stepping onto Marsyas and entering the orphanage, the reader instantly can feel how wrong this notion is and Linus ultimately takes a journey with the reader to get to know who these children are outside of what they were born as. 


Reading THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA didn’t necessarily feel like I was reading a YA book. Sure there are children at the core of the story, but there is so much more. The deeper meaning and the resonating message in this book knows no age boundaries. The idea that people are people and should all be treated equally is one that every person can or should understand. This story is perfect for young people to read and instill that mindset within them, but it’s also valuable for adults to be reminded just how demeaning and negative a society can make people who don’t fit a norm feel. 

There are so many quotable lines in THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA, but the one that stuck out to me most was: “Hate is loud, but I think you’ll learn it’s because it’s only a few people shouting, desperate to be heard. You might not ever be able to change their minds, but so long as you remember you’re not alone, you will overcome.” 

Read this one if you want a story that is both heartwarming and a solid reminder that the world can learn a lot about kindness if we just try a little harder.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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