Tuesday 7 December 2021

The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (Pan Macmillan) PB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781250217318

Reviewed by Nikki M Heath

Linus Baker is a middle-aged caseworker in a government child protection department, in an alt-modern world quite like our own. He is precise, rigorous, and dependable. Until the day he is sent on a top-secret assignment to assess an orphanage for the most dangerous paranormal children in his world - and their carer.

Linus reminded me strongly of Arthur Weasley, and the book has a certain sensibility about it that is likely to feel familiar and comforting to Harry Potter fans. Having been wrenched from his predictable, grey reality, Linus turns into a mild-mannered champion of the suppressed. The children are unique, funny, and surprising.

A key subplot is the burgeoning romance between Linus and the carer. There is no shying away from this queer romance element, but it is subtle and treats the characters’ orientation as entirely unremarkable. There is much more going on, from Linus’ relationship with each of the children to their carer.

Reading this book felt like sliding into a dream. It is pure escapist joy, strengthened by layers of depth and emotion - just like the sea that represents such a crucial pillar of the story. The kind of book you wish was a series, so you don’t need to say goodbye to the characters at the end.

In many ways this is a very unusual young adult story, featuring a middle-aged man as the main protagonist. Nevertheless, it is a stunner for emotionally mature readers from 13 to adult. A wonderful choice for parents to share a rich reading experience with their teenager. If recommending to the younger part of that demographic, it is worth being aware that TJ Klune also writes adult romance novels under the same name.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Buzz Words Books would love to hear what you think.