Reviews

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

Review THITCS

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CW’s: Past Child Abuse, (Internalized) Fatphobia, Trauma

Representation 🌷 Gay Fat MC, m/m romance

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.

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Review

Found Family 💕

“A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with. You may not live on the island, but you can’t tell me it’s not your home.”

This is one of the best found family stories I read in a while! ➽ Arthur is pretty much already the father of the magical children under his care and he genuinly cares for them and their development. The children are classified among the most dangerous and powerful magical beings, which puts them at risk of being misunderstood and scorned by society. Arthur is doing his best to protect them and show them that they are loved and don’t have the be the stereotypes others see them as. This goes especially for Lucy, the actual son of Lucifer and Antichrist, as he’s seen as pure evil and sometimes acts like an exaggerated stereotype just for the sake of it. It’s true that Lucy has incredible power and issues keeping the darkness inside him in check, but it was lovely to see Arthur remind him that he can still choose how to grow and change, no matter what his nature is. Lucy’s good friends with the other children who live at the orphanage, and each have their own stories. There’s Talia – a fierce and witty gnome, Sal – a shy shifter who struggles with his difficult past, Theodore – a loyal wyvern, Phee – a powerful forest sprite and Chauncey, an undetermined being who just wishes to become a bellhop. In the end, I loved seeing Linus slowly warm to the kids as well and see them differently, as they open up and challenge his worldview. So all in all they are one happy family that stole my heart 🥺

Slowburn Romance 💗

“He lay awake, thinking of the way Arthur’s hand had felt in his, the way they’d fit together. It was foolish, and most likely dangerous, but in the quiet darkness, there was no one who could take it away from him.”

The mutual pining between Linus and Arthur was top tier! ➽ Linus is the caseworker the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth assigned to investigate Arthur’s very secluded orphanage. He has always struggled with feeling lonely and stuck in the rigid life he leads, something that made him very relatable to me. Linus insists he loves his work, but he’s treated really poorly and has no social contacts save for his cat. Yet one of the most beautiful things was to see him enter an environment that was full of unexpected love and support. Linus is very skeptical of the orphanage and its inhabitants at first, feeling very out of place, but then he slowly becomes a part of their life. While his previous day to day life was full of restrictions and rules he still clings to, in the orphanage he finds love and respect. Especially Arthur evokes some unwanted feelings in him that Linus tries to bury deep down as it’s ‘unprofessional’ and might not enable him to do his job anymore. Yet he cannot deny that Arthur’s disarming and charming personality and love for his children touches something deep inside him. The slowburn pining and yearning was so well done and had me really invested in their relationship dynamic!! Linus is quite flustered and shy at first, but despite his efforts you can feel him slowly melt around Arthur ❤Arthur himself is a lovely character as well, so caring and determined to see the best in everyone, despite being hurt in the past by those close to him. Arthur and Linus have definitely made it to the top of my favorite couples list and it was so nice to see two men in their forties finding love and building a little family 🥺

Comfort Read 💌

“When something is broken, you can put it back together. It may not fit quite the same, or work like it did once before, but that doesn’t mean it’s no longer useful.”

There was something so wholesome and positive about the story. ➽ I had such a good time reading this book as it put a smile on my face whenever I picked it up 🥺 The House in the Cerulean Sea is definitely a character-driven story that focuses on the found family dynamics and the pining, which worked so well for me. It was like I was spending time with the little family and their interactions really drove the book. It didn’t need a grand, huge plotline, though I lowkey wish there was a second book if only to see the children, Arthur and Linus again 😭 There are tough topics discusssed in the book like child abuse and prejudice, yet the book always provides a glimmer of hope and highlights how important support and love is for children to grow. This is definitely the ultimate comfort read if you need some wholesomness in your life. No matter if you want some slowburn gay pining, found family or simply the magical atmosphere, this book has so much to offer and made me feel so cozy inside 🥰

Whimsical/Magical Atmosphere or Message

“There are moments in your life, moments when chances have to be taken. It’s scary because there is always the possibility of failure. I know that. I KNOW that. Because once upon a time, I took a chance on a man that I had failed before. I was SCARED. I was TERRIFIED. I thought I might lose everything. But I wasn’t living, then. The life I had before wasn’t LIVING. It was getting by. And I will never regret the chances I took.”

I loved the discussions about standing up for yourself and unlearning harmful bias. ➽ The story is set in a version of our world that veers into dystopian/futuristic territory. Rigid rules and regulations define the world of The House in the Cerulean Sea. Magical being exist, but are controlled and registered under the government who spread a propaganda of fear and prejudice. They can’t deal with people being different and not fitting into their tiny boxes of how things should be. The book addresses this by showing Linus perception of his world and the government he works under change when he meets Arthur and the kids. Linus begins to realize the amount of prejudice and stereotypes the magical community faces and how he can help stand up for them. I liked the messages the story sends and how it build up the world 💕

IN CONCLUSION. The House in the Cerulean Sea became an instant all-time favorite book and I’m happy that I gave this one a try after seeing so many people in the community love it! If you love stories that have found family, slowburn mutual pining, a magical atmosphere and wholesomeness, then this is the perfect book for you! ❤

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Have you read The House in the Cerulean Sea? What are some books with the found family trope that you love? 💙

10 thoughts on “Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune in BUZZWORDS 💙

  1. this was such a great review, Caro!! 😍 I haven’t heard a single bad review about this one and I so badly want to read it after reading you review!! I’m happy you enjoyed it 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful review, Caro! I have a verrrry overdue eARC for this one and just never got around to it but haven’t seen any negative reviews at all for this book. I love found families so much and the narrative about unlearning bias is crucial!

    Liked by 1 person

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