ME: ohhh this book is making my heart so happy!
HUSBAND: uh, didn’t you say the antichrist is a character in that book?
ME: yes, I did. And he is a delight.
That conversation captures, quite well, the quirkiness of The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. I read this book after hearing Victoria Schwab (one of my favorite authors) say that it was like “being wrapped in a warm gay blanket.” Her description was accurate.
The novel centers on Linus Barker, a man who leads a colorless life working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He receives a call to visit Extremely Upper Management, who send him on a mysterious assignment. He will live on an island for a month to investigate the happenings at an orphanage of magical misfits. Nothing there seems to fit within department regulations. And Arthur Parnassus, the enigmatic headmaster, both frightens and intrigues Linus.
This is a novel about friendship and family. About loving people for their flaws, as opposed to loving people despite their flaws. It is about self-discovery and acceptance. It is about finding your voice, and being brave. It filled my heart with joy. And I can’t recall another book that has done that to the same degree.
The story is fairly simple, but the characters are absolutely unforgettable. They are quirky and silly and sad. The writing is lovely. This book is just an absolute delight in every way. If you are looking for something to feed your soul with some happiness, read this. I promise you will not be disappointed. We all need a little light right now.