Although it may seem these days as though we are living in a strange world, with the virus continuing to spread its tentacles, the government in limbo, and hurricanes blowing furiously, advertisers continue to try to lure shoppers into the fantasy land of everything being fine as long as the latest toys, electronics, and clothing can be acquired for gifts, either to self or others. After all, don’t we deserve a little comfort? I’ve been telling myself that for weeks as I munch on cookies and chocolate.
A safer and less caloric path to escape is, of course, reading books. These days I am indulging in two at once, alternately giving my attention to other worlds in The House in the Cerulean Sea on my Libby Library ebook account, and Alix Harrow’s new The Once and Future Witches, a hardback I can hold in my hands and throw at the television when the news gets too frustrating. I do conveniently miss; I wouldn’t want to destroy my source of old movies and fictional drama.
A friendly librarian recommended The House in the Cerulean Sea a while ago, and I was happy to see it appear on my phone with a Libby notification. Linus is an uptight and meticulous auditor sent to review and write a report on an orphanage for magical children, located on the bluest sea imaginable. Only six orphans are under the care of Arthur and each has a specialized talent, both scary and humorous – one is a blob, something I can relate to feeling like lately. As Linus is getting to know each of the children, his initial fears dissipate and he becomes their protector.
In her review, Colleen Mondor notes: “it is about the false promise of blind faith in authority and the courage it takes to challenge that promise. But mostly, it is proof that such precious books as this can still exist and still succeed and are still, very much, needed. Do not discount what TJ Klune has done with this novel, and do not ignore importance of this marvelous treasure he has unearthed for us all..”
I am still reading and enjoying this wonderful distraction from the real world, and today, Friday the thirteenth, seems an appropriate day to finish it.
In her second book, The Once and Future Witches, Harrow explores American history and it is just as entertaining as her first book, The Thousand Doors of January. The witches are three sisters, reunited after years apart, just as the women’s suffrage movement is becoming a force in America in the nineteenth century. Klune’s book has priority for me right now, so I am including Jessica Wick’s marvelous review for NPR, to tease you into reading. If you are a fan of Alice Hoffman, you may want to start with this one: “Once Upon a time there were three witches.”