Book Review: The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The other week I asked my amazing Facebook groupies what was the last book that made them cry – possibly because I just read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and it’s kind of tragic. One of my groupies shared that The House on the Cerulean Sea made them cry in a good way, so I did what any literary aficionado would do, I added it to my library wish list.

The Story

Linus Baker works a boring job in a grey rainy town and likes it. He likes the precision of the work, meeting expectations, and reading the massive tome of rules and regulations just for fun. His job? Case worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth where he monitors and reports on the well-being of government-sanctioned orphanages.

It is this supreme diligence and attention to detail that gets him assigned to a special case, that of spending a month to observe and report on the Marsyas Island Orphanage, home of six extremely dangerous magical children.

Linus is … not thrilled.

The island is full of all sorts of secrets, ranging from the abilities of the children, one of which is literally Lucifer, and that of their caretaker Arthur Parnassus. As the month slips by, Arthur discovers that he’s been wrong about quite a few things in his life and allows himself to grow close to both the children and Arthur.

With all that he sees, he must report to Extremely Upper Management his findings and make the hardest decision of all – if this unique orphanage should be allowed to stay open.

My Review

I have a confession to make. Because I knew this made my friend cry, I spent the entire book worried that something completely terrible was going to happen. Spoiler alert – there is a happy ending, so all my worry was for nothing. That said, the depth of that worry is very telling. Klune made me care about each of the carefully crafted characters and the thought of something awful happening to any of them horrified me.

This book is an exploration of what happens when kindness wins over fear. Each character is different in their own unique way ranging from what brings them joy to the people they choose to love. Klune believes that “it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.” The House in the Cerulean Sea does this in a tasteful and whimsical way that emphasizes that it’s the heart that matters most.


The House in the Cerulean Sea is written using simple straightforward language which makes its message easy to grasp and understand. There’s no layers of complexity or multiple storylines to track. We follow Linus from beginning to end and watch as the kindness and uniqueness of those living at the Marsyas Island Orphanage changes him and his observations of the world. There’s no violence, foul language, or intimate situations. While there is a sweet very slow burning romance threaded through the story, it’s secondary to the story’s focus on caring and learning more about these magical children.

I’d recommend this for middle school students and up.

I give The House in the Cerulean Sea 5/5 stars for being charming, well voiced, and an important message that the world needs.

Thank you for joining me as I shared my review of the House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, joining my Facebook group, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.