The House in the Cerulean Sea
by TJ Klune
Linus Baker, a case worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, is tasked with evaluating the risk of six dangerous children residing at the Marsyas Island Orphanage.
Unpopular opinion, but this book was just fine. It started out promising, I liked the setup, but Linus continued to be boring in a way that was not endearing and I did not care about his relationship with Arthur at all, which proved to be a major point. Linus didn’t seem particularly interested in doing his job, even though he supposedly only exists to do his job without question. He talks about how empathetic he is, but showed basically no interest in being around the children he’s supposed to be evaluating. I just didn’t like him, ok? I was not invested in his personal growth. And the book is mostly about his personal growth so, bummer.
The children, however, saved this story. They’re the point, obviously, so that makes sense. But I was going to DNF this around the halfway mark, then Chauncey, that beautiful little blob boy, said something so adorable that I was convinced to carry on in hopes that there would be more adorable moments with the children. There were a few, but not enough to change my mind about liking the story as a whole.
This book reads very young. I actually paused at some point to look up if this was marketed as a middle grade and I missed the memo, but it’s not and that doesn’t make any sense to me. The writing is to the point, which I think is appealing for a lot of readers, but it didn’t jive with me. A lot of things were stated outright, but then I didn’t believe them because actions speak louder than words, and the characters’ actions (mainly Linus) were not backing up their words. Maybe that was intentional, but either way I wasn’t into it.
I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more if it had been an actual middle grade and the lesson came gradually from Linus getting to know the children, rather than the adults blatantly stating it to each other. I liked the story itself, but I didn’t care for the writing style. And that’s a me problem. Overall, this one was not for me, but if you want a cute magical story about kindness and acceptance, it might be for you.