I have to confess to having picked this book out because of its cover and title. What a great word “cerulean” is.
Linus Baker is a caseworker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He goes completely by the book, which may be why he is selected for an unusual task—to investigate the orphanage on the island of Marsyas where seven magical orphans live under the tutelage of Dr. Parnassus. He is instructed to report everything.
On the island, he meets Dr. Parnassus as well as Ms. Chapelwhite, a sprite who helps with the cooking and care of the house and children, and the seven orphans. These unusual children include Lucy, the six-year-old Antichrist.
This novel is well written and occasionally amusing, but I don’t read much fantasy, and when I do, I have high requirements for it. This isn’t really my genre. But my biggest problem with it was trying to decide who it was written for. It reads like a children’s book and its sense of humor is juvenile. However, Linus and Dr. Parnassus have conversations on such topics as Kant and I think it was Schopenhauer that would certainly be above most kids’ heads, and he uses vocabulary (like “self-flagellation”) that seems aimed at adults. In addition, the novel features a love story between two middle-aged men, which doesn’t seem as if it would appeal to even gay children, so more for adults. But the tone of the piece smacks of children’s literature, and not necessarily good children’s literature.
Finally, though, the novel was just too saccharine to appeal to me. I ended up reading about 2/3 of it but eventually decided that I wasn’t invested in the outcome. The kids were cute but kind of one-dimensional, although I thought the concept of Lucy was clever and sometimes funny.