A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
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.
Fiction – Fantasy – LGBTQIA+
CWs & TWs
Child abuse, Confinement, Fatphobia, Anxiety, Forced institutionalization.
Gay, fat MC. Mlm side character.
Found family in a modern fantasy world? Yes, please! I got addicted to this book and its story. It is the first time I read anything by TJ Klune and let me tell you it is definitely not the last. This masterpiece (yes, because for me it is one) is my first five stars of the year and seeing how peaky I became when it comes to rating books, this means a lot. I dived into this story because I saw it a lot on Instagram and some people highly recommended it to me. I didn’t know anything about the story or the settings or the plot or even the genre of this novel. I just jumped into it -because some times you have to do this people, just trust your instinct and jump eyes closed on an adventure- and I regret nothing.
More than being a story about found family and the way you can love some people even more than your blood relatives, it is also a book about judgement. Our society shapes the way we see things, this is no secret. It shapes to way we see people, the way we can accept some things and totally ban other things. This is how it works. And it is not really different in this book. Linus (the main character), works in the department of Magical Youth. His job is basically to make sure magical children living in orphanages aren’t in any dangers. So you might expect him to have seen it all, right? Well, yes, and no. Because when he is sent to Marsyas, it is a shock at first. Those children are nothing like anything he’s seen before. People are scared of them because they don’t understand them. And Linus isn’t really different at first, which I find very clever from the author. Because what it takes for someone to unbuild everything they’ve been told is to live, to witness things not only through books and pictures but with their own eyes.
It is a character-driven story, one hundred per cent. If you aren’t into this kind of things or very descriptive and long plots, you might find this book difficult. But I am into this kind of writing, so I loved it. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of time it took the author to develop the characters, it is perfectly done. I fell in love with each and every one of them. Not only because they are sweet and adorable and amazing, but also for their development through the story. I do believe characters development to be one of the most important things when it comes to arcs, and I am impressed by this aspect of the book. Linus opens his eyes to what family and acceptance and healthy work mean. The children all open up and discover new parts of themselves, but what I found truly amazing in the characters building is how they all influence each other. We talk a lot about how important heritage and education is, how adults can influence children into becoming amazing adults themselves. But we do not talk enough about how younger generations shape us as well, somehow. Children learn from us, but we also learn from them and this book is a perfect way to depict this process.
One other thing that I loved about this book is the idea of going out there, you know what I mean? To swallow your fears -of others, of judgement, or the Unknown – and jump into an adventure. Weirdly, it is a kind of fear adults have more than children because we are built by a society that we know is judgemental. Children, on another hand, are still learning how the world works, and they are not afraid of what people are going to think about them. The depiction of this whole idea is really good in this story since the children are kept safe on the island by an adult who knows people out there are going to judge them. But some times, it takes just one person to get things moving, and it is what happens in this story.
I feel like every character represents something different. At least, it is the way I see it. Lucy, for example (the antichrist as mentioned in the book description), is all about acknowledging one’s mistakes and accepting every part of oneself. I see Talia as the gender-rules-breaking kiddo, who accepts herself and her looks even if it is not how society usually see girls. Chauncey? Definitely screams follow your dreams and do not let anyone or anything come in your way. I could go on and on about characters analysis here, but I don’t want my review to be never-ending. The thing is: the cast is deeply touching. In the way, they all live together, or the way their innocence puts a contrast with how Linus’s vision of the world is built. The characters got me crying, smiling, laughing and wishing that I was here with them – which is weird when you know I dislike children.
Aaaah once again I post a way-too-long review of a book I adored, but I am not even sorry about it. If you liked this review, please consider giving me a little tip on Ko-Fi or you can always follow me on Instagram and subscribe to the blog! Have a nice and fantastic day and as always, thank you for your support!