Published by Tom Doherty Associates on March 17, 2020
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Gay, Humorous
This is possibly the most wholesome book I’ve ever read! TJ Klune’s feel good fantasy novel takes place at an orphanage for magical youth on a magical tropical island. This story features a loveable found family and an endearing gay romance. The predictability of the story did not bother me because the characters were so likeable. Save this book for a gloomy day, I guarantee that it will cheer you up!
The protagonist, Linus Baker, is a lonely British man in his 40s. He is a case worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth where he travels to different government sanctioned orphanages, housing magical children, to ensure regulations are being followed. Linus is an extremely by the book employee. Because of his consistent track record of impartiality his superiors assign him a special assignment. He is sent to Marsyas Island to see an oversee a classified orphanage. The children housed there include a boy that can turn into a Pomeranian, a wryvn, a gnome, a sprite, an amorphous blob, and Satan’s son. Yes, the antichrist. The orphanage is run by Arthur Parnassus, a quirky middle-aged man who is passionately protective of the children. The children and Arthur end up challenging Linus’s rigid nature. Linus finds himself working less by the book as he becomes more attached to the children and especially Arthur.
The children in this story are so cute! My two favorites were Sal and Chauncey. Sal turns into a Pomeranian whenever he is scared or startled, which leads to many adorable scenes. Chauncey is an amorphous blob with an unknown origin. His dream is to become a hotel bellhop. I hope that one day I’ll have a dream/goal that I’m as passionate for as Chauncey is about the bellhop profession. The charming and humorous style of the Klune’s writing reminded me of a famous TERF’s prose (a.k.a. J.K. Roachling). Klune includes excellent positive themes in the story. My main takeaway is those that are different than society’s norm should not be isolated or hidden away but celebrated and included.
As I mentioned the plot is very predictable. Most readers will likely see the climatic twist a mile away. But the appeal of the book is the wonderful children and Linus’s positive character development. The predictable plot can be overlooked.