The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune was a gift from a friend who is a bookseller.
I’m glad I made the time to read it; it’s a very soft, hopeful novel set in an alternate world, roughly contemporary with ours, which includes many different magical populations and a 1984-like government that requires them to be registered and controlled (“See Something, Say Something” signs are everywhere.) The Protagonist Linus Baker is a meticulous career bureaucrat whose job is to inspect magical orphanages, to make sure the children are not being mistreated. He’s unexpectedly assigned a case at an island orphanage with children like no others he’s ever met, including an incredibly powerful six year old and one child whose species is unknown.
Linus takes his cat and leaves behind the city, where it always rains, emerging into the literal sun and seeing the ocean for the first time. His innate kindness soon wars with his fear of how he’ll be treated by Extremely Upper Management if he fails their expectations, and what will become of him afterwards, but he soon finds ways to assert himself as well as protect the children, and to tentatively reach out to potential new friends. Linus is strongly drawn to the mysterious master of the orphanage, who has his own secrets. It’s a sweet and satisfying book, even when elements of it are melancholy.