This book is a delight. It is charming, and thought provoking, and overall just lovely. It takes place in a world not too far off from our own, only there is magic. The magic may have been hidden away for quite some time, but those who were magical were probably forced to show themselves. The “people in charge” decided that in order to “include” these magical beings into society, they must be registered. For what purpose remains unclear.
Mr. Linus Baker, our protagonist, works as a case worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, or Dicomy. (It is obviously a parallel to DYFS.) Linus is a well-meaning, rule-following man in his 40’s who has worked for the department in the same position for over 17 years. He is a silent cog in a machine he doesn’t quite understand, but he believes in his position and the work that he does. He visits orphanages for magical youth and determines if they should remain open, if the children are safe and happy and well-cared for. He is summoned one day to Extremely Upper Management where he is told he is going on a month-long, very important, Classified Level 4 case.
The case leads him to Marsyas Island, which holds plenty of mysteries. There are only six children in residence, but they are each unique and challenging in their own ways. There are also two adult residents of the island, one being the charming Arthur Parnassus. As Linus spends time with each of the island residents, he gets to know them and he also sees what he has been missing from his life.
It is very easy to see the tie between the magical children in this world and special needs children in ours. Magical children are rarely if ever adopted, and sadly that is the case with special needs children as well. Some of the children in the book also have special needs or considerations. For example, one of the boys has crippling, if understandable, anxiety. But each of the children also offers much to those who get to know them.