I exercised my option to write on a different book than the one I had planned last month.
Many book clubs have read the book, and I’ve been asked repeatedly what I think about it. To survive, I read the book and then decided to write about it.
The book belongs to the fantasy genre, with the adults being somewhat identifiable as normal human beings and the children in the book being unidentifiable as normal human beings. Again, many people do not view children as normal human beings.
Many fantasies written today are dark dystopias, excuses for dark and violent battles between good and evil. It is not one of them. Since we’ve somewhat survived a two-year battle with a pandemic, most dystopias have lost readers. Not the case with this one.
The story TJ Klune tells is vaguely ordinary so the readers, who are mostly children, do not feel threatened by the characters, but also vaguely strange so that one reads wondering how it will end. . Believe me, I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I will try to pique your interest as some readers will like the plot of this book very much.
Linus Baker is a lone social worker for the government entity in charge of Magical Youth. He manages orphan magical beings who are minors. Normally his job is similar to that of an accountant in an office, but one day the Extremely Upper Management of the organization asks him for a one-month assignment and to report to Mr. Charles Werner, the one of the four members of Extremely Upper Management. Linus’ special mission is to assess a special orphanage on Marsyas Island.
Accountants are responsible for proving that money is not wasted on imaginative programs. In this case, Linus Baker is asked to verify that the money is being spent – imaginatively.
The head of the orphanage is Arthur Parnassus. Children see him as a father figure. But the most unique adult in the book is Zoe Chapelwhite, an undocumented adult free spirit who has lived on the island longer than it has been an orphanage.
The six children of Marsyas are unique. Lucy, short for Lucifer, is the Antichrist. Theodore is one of the few Wyverns to exist. Talia is a fare gnome. Phee has particularly strong forest sprite powers. Chauncey is an amorphous blog with monstrous tentacles. Sal is a shapeshifter who can grow into a little Pomeranian. He has the special ability to give others the ability to change shape by biting them. He has also been in many orphanages and suffered abuse.
In this strange mix, lonely social worker Linus Baker is immersed. Linus is afraid of children at first, but soon realizes that they act like other children. However, the community around them sees them as threats. Meanwhile, the children fear Linus will take them away from their happy home in “The House in the Cerulean Sea”. It is clear to all that he will recommend whether or not to close the orphanage.
Linus is also on site. In previous missions, Linus has boasted of being detached, considering the plight of the children outside the scope of his responsibility. Here he has long weekly reports to file and finds that his objectivity escapes him.
During the pandemic, I have often heard people say that they are depressed about what is wrong with the world and that they do not want to read books where “bad things” happen. I have also noticed an increased interest in self-help books. This is why “The Cerulean House in the Sea” has so much potential to help adults through these difficult times. History also has the power to uplift the position of children and their often forgotten needs.
I promise that for the month of August, I’ll be back to watch Bradford Pearson’s “The Eagles of Heart Mountain” again. It’s a true story that you won’t want to miss out on and potentially read the book.
“The House in the Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune, Tor Publications, 396 pages, 2020, $ 18.99 in paperback.
Donus Roberts is a former teacher, current ABC Book Club Advisor, avid book reader / collector, owner of ddrbooks, and he encourages readers to log on to [email protected]