• June 2021 •

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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The House in the Cerulean Sea

By TJ Klune

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.


  1. Did you enjoy this book? Rate it out of 5.
  2. As an employee of DICOMY, Linus Baker works under very rigid rules and regulations (and that’s literally the name of the handbook he refers to quite often!). He’s constantly being monitored, yet he still manages to produce quality work. Why does he push through working under such pressure? And if you were in his shoes, would you be able to work under those conditions?/li>
  3. Linus is a very lonely man and prior to investigating the Marsyas Island Orphanage, his only friend and family is his aloof cat Calliope. While building a family and a home becomes important for Linus as the story progresses, why wasn’t this a priority in his past? Why is he so isolated as an adult, and do you think this can this be attributed to what his home life was like growing up?
  4. This book is thoroughly endearing, and part of the reason is because of the children! They each have such unique and incredible powers. Whose magical abilities appeal to you most? If you were to choose your own magical powers, what would they be and why?
  5. Linus and Lucy bond over their love of music, and artists such as The Everly Brothers, Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin, The Coasters, Little Richard, The Big Bopper, and Buddy Holly are frequently mentioned. Why is music such a large part of the story? What role does it play in the characters’ lives?
  6. Let’s talk about Chauncey! He’s such a loveable and sweet character. It’s clear he wants to grow up and help people. While there are many professions in which people help others (like doctors or firefighters), what about the prospect of being a bellhop specifically entices him so much?
  7. The villagers fear the magical powers the children possess—and that fear manifests into hate. Sadly this is a common theme in society the world over. Discuss this theme as it related to current events and or past events.
  8. Body size is mentioned quite often throughout the book. Linus always attempts to shrink himself—both literally and figuratively. Can you explain the dichotomy between him being a larger person, yet seeming to take up little or no space? And how does size have an impact on the story overall?
  9. At the heart of the novel is the importance of surrounding yourself with people who feel like home and finding a place where you wholeheartedly belong. How do you personally define “home?” What are the essentials?

 

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