Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
“Change often starts with the smallest of whispers. Like-minded people building it up to a roar.”
I haven’t read a ton of middle grade books lately, and being the hard-hearted person that I am, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first picked up this novel. Now that I’m finished, I just want to read it again and climb back inside the world with Linus, Arthur, and all the adorable children. And I cried – a cry of good happy tears.
This book reminded me so much if Nanny McPhee, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and Cheaper by the Dozen, and with a dash of magic, were all rolled together to make a perfect book. It was able to quickly grasp my attention and plant me inside the world. While the writing was simple and easy to read through, it was so engaging and descriptive that the story felt too real. I had a great time reading the story, and didn’t notice I was practically devouring the book.
The characters were a huge hit for me – from the first moment Linus made an appearance to his first encounter with the inhabitants of the island. They were all adorable with their antics, but also full of wonders. They definitely gave the book a much needed breath. This book just spoke volumes about family, friendship, and love. I love every single one of them and I want to hug all of them and protect them at all costs.
While this may be a lighthearted read, it was written as a reflection of the real current issues in the world, such as prejudices against people who are different. It’s a book that presents problems to its readers, and isn’t shy in pointing out the wrong things people have been doing. It was a call to action in fighting for those who are viewed differently by society, but also educating them to help them understand and set their prejudices aside.
I just really really want to go back into this book so bad. I miss them all already.
“A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with.”
About The Author
TJ KLUNE is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author (Into This River I Drown) and an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company. His novels include The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Extraordinaries. Being queer himself, TJ believes it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.