The House in the Cerulean Sea examines themes of belonging, family, nature versus nurture, and inclusion. The protagonist, Linus Baker is an unhappy, lonely man and a stickler for rules. On an assignment to an orphanage for magical youth on a distant Island, he encounters six supposedly dangerous, magical children and their enigmatic master, Arthur Parnassus. As Baker spends time with these magical children he sees them for their unique talents, and the love they have for each other, and eventually he grows protective of them. It is a heartwarming tale of how the children can shift Baker’s mindset and change his heart to embolden him to pursue his happiness in ways he would have previously never imagined.
I started reading this book five months ago, only working through a couple of pages before bed each night. It just wasn’t compelling enough for me to power through (unlike Sea of Tranquility for example) but I began to look forward to twenty minutes of uplifting escapism it provided every night. The narrative was a bit too saccharine, simplistic, and slow-paced for my liking.
I’ve read the book for what it is, by which I mean I didn’t draw any parallels to past or present discriminatory behaviors towards some groups of people. And I think that’s perfectly okay. The ability to examine difficult ideas and questions about our world indirectly and comfortably is what fantasy fiction can afford, and The House in the Cerulean Sea delivers on that front.