All the stars for a magical book! This will be one of my bests for years to come!
“It’s just me,” Linus said, unsure of where this was going. “I don’t know how to be anyone but who I already am. This is how I’ve always been. It’s not much, but I do the best I can with what I have.”
That’s the best word to describe this story.
You know when, once in many years, you stumble upon a book and everything just …clicks? Well that was what happened in this read that was a book club read.
These characters were so moving, charming, cute, awkward and heart-warming. I wanted to take them in my arms and give them big hugs!
Under that lovely surface also hide deep messages about differences, what makes a monster, acceptance, not being defined by our DNA, making our own choices to be good and …so much more!
This book is magical, charming, poetic …. I don’t have enough words to describe its awesomeness!
You have so many of my favorite tropes and elements!
From the beginning, you follow Linus.
He is rotund, living all alone, following the rules to a fault. He does not look like much, rather a little grey mouse, a little silent, yet you see that he takes his job at heart.
He works for the DICOMY: Department in Charge of Magical Youth. His task is visiting special orphanages filled with magical children. He has to know if they abide by the rules and … if the children are safe and well cared for. That last part is Linus’s special touch as you can feel his love for these kids radiating from the page, even if “forming attachment” with these kids is highly discouraged in the Rules and Regulations employee’s handbook!
You can feel that Linus is lonely, living a discreet and quite boring life with his cat Calliope.
The way TJ Klune depicted these characters like endearing caricatures and the magical children element made me think of Harry Potter’s universe! Here is one of my favorite tropes: magical schools or rather in our case, magical orphanage!
One day, Linus is called by Extremely Upper Management (I snickered at that name) and sent on a Level four top secret mission!
Imagine awkward Linus, living an easy but boring routine, fearing his hierarchy suddenly catapulted in an important mission far from home!
En route he’ll learn of his mission’s details and …will faint on the train gate.
Of course he is frightened!
He is sent to an orphanage by the sea, ruled by the mysterious Arthur Parnasus and harboring six dangerous magical children!
So dangerous says the blurb, that they’re likely to bring about the end of days!
I had a blast reading Linus’s first day at the orphanage!
Truly the kids played some pranks on him to test Linus and …because it’s in their nature!
That was the second favorite element in the book: the humor!
I loved Lucy and his dark humor!
“I am evil incarnate. I am the blight upon the skin of this world. And I will bring it to its knees. Prepare for the End of Days! Your time has come, and the rivers will run with the blood of innocents.”
Ooooh Lucy is such a drama queen!!! LOL
The first day on the island, Talia threatened to go find her shovel to make Linus’s body disappear, Phee the forest sprite was also menacing …all that because these kids, these special orphans, had found a new family and wanted to stick together.
Hence my favorite third trope: the found family!
“This is not an orphanage. This is a house of healing, and one I think is necessary.”
The love between these kids, the loyalty is amazing.
I just wanted to make sure these kids would be protected and loved their whole life.
Chauncey had such simple dreams of becoming a bellhop and yet, for who he was, that seemed so impossible. I wanted to make it happen!
That’s another amazing element in this book: it asks what makes someone a monster. Using these magical kids as medium, TJ Klune makes us think on how we fear people who are different from us. Quite a universal message here.
And showed us that appearances are nothing. It’s what lies inside that is important.
“Why do you wish to become a bellhop?”
Chauncey grinned. “Because they get to help people.”
“And that’s what you want to do?”
His smile faded lightly. “More than anything. I know I am …” “Different”
“Just because I look the way I do doesn’t mean I can’t help people. I know some people think I am scary but I promise I am really not.”
By the end of the book, Linus truly bloomed.
Part was due to the kids. Another to Arthur. TJ Klune wrote a discreet and cute MM romance, all in soft touches here and there, suggested in Linus’s blushing. Sweet, cute but never overtaking the story ARC.
From mousy and awkward, Linus came to “own” the tire around his belly, loosen his tie and be charmingly ruffled all while fighting for the children and discovering that life was worth of living it on the wilder side.
That story is one that will bring rainbows in your rainy day, stars in your black night. It will feed your soul and make you …. simply happy!
Have you read this book?
Thanks for reading!