Audiobook Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea

Published March 16th 2020

Author: T.J. Klune

Narrator: Daniel Henning

Audiobook Length: 12 hours 13 minutes

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.

I do not consider a lot of books a perfect score of 5 out of 5. Typically they can come close as there is something that either I wanted the novel to do differently or just something I did not like in general. Upon finishing this novel, there is nothing that I would have changed. I completed the audiobook version, so maybe I would have felt differently if I read it on paper, but right now, I completely loved this novel. It is easily a contender for making my top books list for 2021 reads and possibly of all time. This novel was released about a year ago in 2020 and has been hyped ever since. Therefore, I was nervous about giving this book a try as I feared it might not live up to the hype. Luckily, I did not need to fear as this book is everything I thought it was going to be and more. An absolute gem of a novel!

Our main character is Linus Baker, a 40-year-old, caseworker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He is a stickler for the rules and regulations that his department follows and does his job well. His home life is simple, yet lonely, as he does not have friends, family, or a relationship that he spends time with. His main companion is his cat, Calliope.  He enjoys his job where he reports on supernatural children orphanages. Although these children are special, Linus never treats them differently and respects them as they are.  His reports that are written about each agency are used to determine if an orphanage continues or discontinues being in existence.  Everything in his life is fairly routine as he goes to work, gets assigned an orphanage, he investigates, writes a report, and repeats.  It all seems fairly ordinary until he gets called to report to Extremely Upper Management for an unknown reason.

During this urgent meeting, Linus is assigned a secret mission with little information initially given to him to investigate a mysterious orphanage on an island in the Cerulean Sea.  The Marysas Island Orphanage is home to six dangerous magical children who Linus is warned to be extremely cautious around. Linus is nervous about this new assignment, but decides to treat it as any other case. Little does he know that this case is nothing like the others and has the potential to change Linus forever? Each of the six children, their main caretaker Arthur, and all the other characters on the island were well-written and you see how they are all a family without being related by blood and now Linus must try to be as objective as possible when reporting back to his department.

As I did the audiobook, the narrator, Daniel Henning, was fantastic! His voices for all the characters were excellent and added a whole other level of enjoyment to the story.  For each other six children, Daniel perfectly executed their voices and personality. For the six children we have: a wyvern, a were-Pomeranian, a sprite, a gnome, an unidentifiable green blob, and the young son of Lucifer! The more time Linus spends with these characters, the more he starts to wonder if his life was as content as he originally thought. He opens himself up to having fun and “breaking” rules and starts to realize that he was missing out on a lot in his former life. Unfortunately, this bonding makes his job of remaining objective when he writes reports and faces his superiors much more difficult. Linus must then balance enjoying his time here while not becoming too attached, which turned into a very difficult task. The story follows Linus learning more and more about the orphanage and the secrets of each of the characters he has come across.

Overall, this cast of characters is all incredibly charming and it was almost impossible to choose a favorite among them. Every character was a delight and I loved reading about each other their stories, although Chauncey made me smile every time he was on the page.  Even though this is a standalone novel, I would love a novella or follow-up novel just to visit this fun cast of characters again.  I love all of the lessons taught in this novel and it can easily be loved by readers of all ages. It has some similarities to X-Men in the sense that those that are supernatural are considered too different to be fully together with non-magical beings. There is also the added idea that supernaturals deemed too dangerous are not a part of the magical community either, so they have nowhere to belong.  Arthur, the caretaker, teaches Linus to open his eyes as he is extremely kind and caring.  He teaches the children to be good individuals while understanding that they are children and will make mistakes as they learn. He was the perfect character to tie-in Linus with the colorful cast of children that Arthur is in charge of.  Everything about this novel made me glad that I took the time to experience it and it would be one I would not hesitate to re-read again and again. A novel that I highly recommend to anyone!

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