I am a grinch with a lump of coal heart. I don’t much like kids, or love stories, or books or movies that try to warm my heart. I avoid YA. AND YET. This book had me teary-eyed and worried several times throughout, and then trying not to wake my husband with my sniffles at the end. My heart, it is warmed. UGH.
Usually books about magical children and/or orphans are centered around the children. This story takes the interesting approach of showing us the world through the eyes of a caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY). Linus Baker has been a caseworker at DICOMY for 17 years. He does his job with no frills, solid in his objectivity. Are the children safe and healthy? That’s all his report needs to know. He doesn’t follow up with the children or guardians after, and he doesn’t pay attention to what happens to the homes full of abandoned magical children after he leaves. The ‘normal’ people are scared and hateful, and there are lots of “If you see something, say something” signs around, and magical creatures are required to register themselves with the Division. (I’m pretty sure there’s some sneaky allegorical stuff going on here.)
This distance and objectivity is why Linus is chosen to go to Marsyas Island, a tough and top-secret assignment because of the ‘extreme’ nature of the children at the house. One of them is a wyvern (one of the last of his kind), one is a blobby and tentacled lifeform that’s never been identified, one is a were-Pomeranian (!!!) and one is…the son of the Anti-christ. But of course, once Linus gets there and actually meets them, all is not what it seems, and we all learn important lessons about judging books by covers and such.
And the love story! Wonderfully sweet and sweetly wonderful. All in all, my heart is warmed against its will. Cue the Grinch gif!