The Wondrous Works of TJ Klune
by Paige McTernan
At some point in your life, you’ve probably figured out who your favorite author is, a writer who you get excited for every time there’s a whiff in the air about a new book. Maybe, if you’re crazy like me, you have multiple favorite authors! TJ Klune, an American author who specializes in fantasy and romance genres, is the topic of discussion on this fine day, and with The Extraordinaries series now on my Christmas list, I want to look back on two of my favorite TJ Klune books.
The House on the Cerulean Sea
New York Times best seller The House in the Cerulean Sea is the novel that introduced me to TJ Klune’s work back in 2020. Set in a world where magical creatures and beings coexist with humans, the story follows Linus Baker, a lonely forty-year-old case worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth who checks up on the well-being of magical children living in orphanages. One day, Linus is summoned by Extremely Upper Management for a highly classified assignment, wherein he must investigate Marsyas Island Orphanage, its six supposedly dangerous children who are said to bring about destruction, and their strange yet charming caretaker Arthur Parnassus.
As the days of the assignment pass, Linus begins to grow closer to the orphanage and its extraordinary children, as well as Arthur. But as bonds grow deeper, secrets are revealed, and choices must be made. Will Linus tear apart a home, or will he see the world’s end like he was told?
This novel has everything: found family, queer romance, addressing prejudice, and a beautiful, heartwarming story that you can’t help but smile at. If you’re a fan of any of these wonderful themes, then this is the book for you!
Under the Whispering Door
I picked this one up at a bookstore, to which the cashier told me, “If you read The House on the Cerulean Sea and liked it, you’re gonna love this one.” And boy, was she right. Under the Whispering Door follows Wallace Price, a selfish and cold man who died with his head stuck up his ass (not literally, but could you imagine?) and must now face the music and realize that he is, in fact, dead.
As Wallace spends his time at Charon’s Crossing, a peculiar yet quaint tea shop run by Hugo the ferryman, he inevitably grows closer to those who live there, and learns more about them as well as himself. But when Wallace is given seven days to cross over, he must suddenly fit a lifetime of unlived experiences into a single timeframe.
If you’re looking for a laugh, an ugly cry, and an existential crisis simultaneously, then this is the book for you. Like The House on the Cerulean Sea, there’s found family and queer romance galore. Every character has their own engaging personality, making them all the more loveable (or punchable, since there are definitely some I would consider punchable).
TJ Klune is by far one of my favorite queer authors, releasing absolutely beautiful fantasy works that tug at the heartstrings and having an endless supply of LGBTQ+ characters. He’s an author that I highly recommend to my friends, and to you, dear reader.