Monday, September 20, 2021

Review: Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Fantasy 
Under the Whispering Door cover
ISBN: 9781250217349
Release Date: September 21, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Welcome to Charon's Crossing.
The tea is hot, the scones are fresh, and the dead are just passing through.

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead.

And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead.

But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

Hilarious, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home.

Under the Whispering Door is beautiful and sad; a bittersweet, captivating adventure that begins at an ending.

Wallace Price is not a nice person at the beginning of this book. He’s a coldhearted workaholic who hasn’t really lived his life when he dies at forty. When Mei, his reaper, takes him to Charon’s Crossing to meet the ferryman who will help him cross over, Wallace’s afterlife changes forever. Hugo Freeman helps people come to terms with their death and crossing over. He runs a tea shop and keeps company with Mei and his ghostly grandfather and dog. The Freeman family – those born and adopted into it – sparks an awareness in Wallace that perhaps all that he had spent his life focusing on wasn’t what was important. Wallace’s journey had me glued to the pages of Under the Whispering Door. His growth delighted me and I loved that it wasn’t too late for him to become a good, caring person. Hugo is his guide, his friend, and perhaps something more. The ferryman has an innate goodness that shines on the page and his empathetic, kind nature was like a warm hug.

Under the Whispering Door isn’t the kind of book I would normally pick up, but I’m so glad I did. TJ Klune’s prose is beautiful and engaging. Klune balances tragedy with hope and his version of what happens after death and before the hereafter is imaginative and interesting. I cried buckets over the course of this story and I imagine many readers will as well. Death is, after all, a sad topic. But there isn’t just sadness in this book. There’s humor and heart and all that makes life worth living. This is a story that grabs you by the heartstrings and doesn’t let go. Love, loss, and the stages of grief are hard topics and Klune just nails it when it comes to addressing hard topics while keeping the story hopeful. I loved that I couldn’t predict where this story would go and I stayed up far too late because I had to know what would happen next.

Under the Whispering Door has scenes that address all manners of death, including suicide. There are also scenes depicting depression, PTSD, and raw grief. Readers sensitive to any of these topics should be warned. If these things do not trigger you, I highly recommend reading this book, even if it’s not your usual fare. Klune’s strange and wonderful world will break your heart and put it back together again.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.