The House in the Cerulean Sea is the very definition of an “if you can make it past the first hundred pages, you’ll adore it” book. The first hundred pages or so reads like a very Douglas Adams kind of satire on the inefficiencies of government. “Hitchhiker’s Guide” meets urban fantasy, if you will. But once Linus arrives at Marsyas Island Orphanage, the titular house in the cerulean sea, things take a much lovelier, heartwarming turn.
At its core, The House in the Cerulean Sea is a love story. It’s a story about accepting that which you can’t understand; a story about figuring out who you are underneath all the walls you put up to shield yourself from the world; and a story about hope – finding hope in the darkest of places and finding hope in those you surround yourself with. It’s the kind of book that slips underneath your walls, slides right between your ribs, and buries itself deep inside your heart.
Don’t come to The House in the Cerulean Sea for its stunningly original plot, however. While it’s filled with some delightfully magical world-building and a cast of deeply endearing characters, this book is the definition of vibes over plot. And that’s 100% what makes it as enjoyable as it is. Everything that happens can be seen coming from a mile away, but the execution is just so satisfying in all of the best ways. It’s the literary equivalent of wrapping yourself in a warm blanket on a rainy day.
And the characters – not enough can be said about how wonderful these characters are. Linus, the epitome of the “grump with a heart of gold” trope, makes for a deeply compelling main character. There’s something so alluring about characters who realize their entire ways of life are built upon lie after lie, and Klune does an excellent job of dismantling Linus’s worldview throughout the novel. Arthur is exactly as warm as you’d like him to be, and the love he exudes for the children in his care is just beautiful to see. And the kids! What a delightful cast of characters. I do wish Klune had been able to spend a bit more time with some of them, but these kids are just so heartwarming and you’ll find yourself desperately wanting to protect them from all harm.
Put simply, The House in the Cerulean Sea is a delightful read from start to finish. It starts off painfully slowly, but once you get past all the exposition at the beginning of the book, things pick up greatly. If you’ve never read one of Klune’s books, this is a great place to start. It’s funny, emotional, and incredibly heartwarming.
4 out of 5 wands.