I’m not a fantasy fan, but THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA has everything I love in a novel: laugh-out-loud moments, quirky characters, a lush setting, and the triumph of empathy and acceptance over prejudice and judgment.

At the heart of the story is Linus Baker. Forty years old, overweight, and out-of-shape, Linus lives alone with a devious stray cat. Even his own mother declared Linus unremarkable.

While not ambitious, he’s dedicated to his job overseeing the care of magical youth in government-sanctioned orphanages. His priorities are the wellbeing of the children and following the rules, although he never questions if the orphanages lead to adoption.

His humdrum existence changes when Extremely Upper Management sends him on a classified mission to a mysterious, remote island. The island is home to six dangerous children and their enigmatic teacher and guardian, Arthur, who will do anything to protect his young charges. Linus is assigned with sending back weekly reports and has one month to determine the threat level the kids present. Could they destroy the world?

One of those kids is 6-year-old Lucy. Lucy’s a boy who loves rock ‘n’ roll by dead musicians, needs a booster seat to reach the dinner table, and talks about spiders in his brain. His name is short for Lucifer, and his father is the Devil.

Terrified by Lucy’s mere presence, Linus is determined to remain professional. But nothing and no one on the island is as expected. Each day brings him closer to Arthur, and imaginary adventures lead to holding hands with the kids and learning their heart-breaking truths. Gradually Linus becomes anything but unremarkable.

Filled with humor and compassion, this novel is about conquering fear, seeing the good in people, finding your voice, celebrating your weirdness, and discovering the family of your heart. Reading it was a magical experience—the best warm-hug novel you can image. Or, as one reviewer said, “Quite possibly the greatest feel-good story ever to involve the Antichrist.”

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