Trying a “proper” Book Review – Melly’s Fourth Book Post

(Let’s see how this goes)

I haven’t been reading as much this year – partly due to anxiety/grief/stress and partly because I was really enjoying reading quite a long book slowly and savouring it. However, I was recommended a book by my book-pusher and chose it for work Book Club and I’m so glad I did! I binged the second half of it through a lazy weekend day and absolutely loved it.

The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea opens with Linus Baker, a 40 year old case worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth who lives alone with his cat Calliope. Linus’s job is to inspect the orphanages housing magical children and report back on whether they are fit for purpose.
Things all change when Linus is summoned before Extremely Upper Management and told he is being sent on a classified level 4 assignment to report on Marsyas Island Orphanage and in particular on its caretaker, Arthur Parnassus.

Linus is given very little information about his assignment and is told to only open his case files upon arrival. As a diligent case worker he follows these instructions properly. Poor Linus is bombarded with more information than he was expecting upon reading the contents of the case file and discovering that one of the inhabitants of the island is none other than the antichrist – although in the form of a six year old boy going by the nickname of Lucy. The other 5 children on the island are only slightly less dangerous in appearance – a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, and a were-Pomeranian. Linus prides himself on being a professional and maintaining a distance from those he’s observing and does his best to maintain his usual distance. It doesn’t take too long for the personalities of the island’s inhabitants to start to affect him, particularly the enigmatic Dr Parnassus.

Each of the children has a unique personality and you quickly care for each one of them. The way the children are viewed and treated by the neighbouring villagers is representative of the discrimination facing both the LGBTQ+ community and People of Colour and is handled incredibly well in the storytelling. Tolerance, acceptance, and love (both for others and yourself) are the key messages of the narrative. One quote in particular concerning Linus felt like I’d been punched right in the feels:
“He’d accepted long ago that some people, no matter how good their heart was or how much love they had to give, would always be alone. It was their lot in life, and Linus had figured out, at the age of twenty-seven, that it seemed to be that way for him.”

(See, I’m not all about murder!)

Shiney rating
5 out of 5 Paws
VE Schwab described this book as “like being wrapped up in a big gay blanket” and, as usual, she is right. It’s wholesome and heart-warming and lovely. I came away from it with a satisfied glow. 100% would recommend.

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