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Under the Whispering Door

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When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead. Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop's owner to locals and the fe When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead. Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop's owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over. But Wallace isn't ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo's help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life. When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days. Under the Whispering Door is a contemporary fantasy about a ghost who refuses to cross over and the ferryman he falls in love with.


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When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead. Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop's owner to locals and the fe When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead. Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop's owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over. But Wallace isn't ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo's help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life. When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days. Under the Whispering Door is a contemporary fantasy about a ghost who refuses to cross over and the ferryman he falls in love with.

30 review for Under the Whispering Door

  1. 4 out of 5

    chai ♡

    When will we, as a society, dissolve the concept of time so I can read this book right now and inject some faint semblance of joy into my life?

  2. 5 out of 5

    T.J.

    Updated October 19, 202o: The release date for Under The Whispering Door has changed to September 21, 2021. More details here: http://www.tjklunebooks.com/new-blog/... Under the Whispering Door is a contemporary fantasy with TJ Klune's signature “quirk and charm” (PW) about a ghost who refuses to cross over and the ferryman he falls in love with. When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead. Instead of leading him directly to the afterli Updated October 19, 202o: The release date for Under The Whispering Door has changed to September 21, 2021. More details here: http://www.tjklunebooks.com/new-blog/... Under the Whispering Door is a contemporary fantasy with TJ Klune's signature “quirk and charm” (PW) about a ghost who refuses to cross over and the ferryman he falls in love with. When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead. Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop's owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over. But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life. When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days. By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this absorbing tale of grief and hope is told with TJ Klune's signature warmth, humor, and extraordinary empathy. Coming 2021 from Tor and Tj Klune

  3. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    “its life, wallace. even when youre dead, its still life. you exist. youre real. youre strong and brave and im so happy to know you.” just call me the the grinch because i swear my heart grew a size with every chapter. this is honestly one of the most wholesome books i have read in a very long time. it reminded me a lot of ‘a monster calls,’ as this is also a whimsical story that so gently and lovingly explores grief and how to cope with loss. but in the same vein as ‘the midnight library’ an “its life, wallace. even when youre dead, its still life. you exist. youre real. youre strong and brave and im so happy to know you.” just call me the the grinch because i swear my heart grew a size with every chapter. this is honestly one of the most wholesome books i have read in a very long time. it reminded me a lot of ‘a monster calls,’ as this is also a whimsical story that so gently and lovingly explores grief and how to cope with loss. but in the same vein as ‘the midnight library’ and ‘the five people you meet in heaven,’ this also insightfully shows what it means to live a good life, who to live it for, and how it is never too late to make it mean something. this is my first book by TJK, but it will not be my last. only a special author can create a story that radiates so much heart and warmth. thank you so much, macmillan-tor/forge, for the ARC!! ↠ 5 stars

  4. 5 out of 5

    Yun

    Under the Whispering Door seems to have everything going for it, with an intriguing premise, quirky characters, and T.J. Klune's trademark humor. But in the end, it never quite materialized into the profound story it should've been. Uptight corporate soldier Wallace Price thinks he has it all: money, career, and success. So when he keels over one day and just dies, he's shocked and angry. Something like that can't possibly happen to him! But then he meets his reaper and ferryman, and he's in for Under the Whispering Door seems to have everything going for it, with an intriguing premise, quirky characters, and T.J. Klune's trademark humor. But in the end, it never quite materialized into the profound story it should've been. Uptight corporate soldier Wallace Price thinks he has it all: money, career, and success. So when he keels over one day and just dies, he's shocked and angry. Something like that can't possibly happen to him! But then he meets his reaper and ferryman, and he's in for the surprise of his life. They slowly get under his skin and show him that there is more to life than he ever realized. At its heart, this is a book that contemplates what it means to be alive and how to come to terms with death. Those are worthwhile topics, no doubt about that. But when it's all said and done, does this book add anything new or interesting to the discussion? It pains me to say that my answer is no. The story is very drawn out for what it contains. We are essentially following Wallace as he learns to be a better person and accept his fate. But there isn't much in that tale and we never go past skin-deep, so a lot of the passages and conversations feel repetitive and cliché. Hardly anything happens from the beginning of this story to the end. As I'm reading it, I kept having this feeling of deja vu, like I've already read the same exact thing before. The humor that you'd expect from T.J. Klune is still here. The beginning is my favorite, with no one having quite the eye for making fun of corporate drones the way Klune does. As the story progresses, there were a smattering of passages that made me chuckle, including one that was uproariously funny. But because of how drawn out the overall story is, the humor quickly becomes repetitive. It's like being hit over the head repeatedly with the same jokes, and it starts to feel forced and overdone. The love story in here also feels a bit incongruous. It's unclear to me exactly how it happened. One moment, they weren't getting along. Then the next moment, they were in love. But I didn't see any transition from one to the other. It feels like this was shoehorned in in order to satisfy the criteria of this being a love story. I don't want to give the impression that I didn't enjoy this story at all because I did. But it was so long and drawn out, filled with platitudes about making the most of your life and being a better person, that it was hard to sustain my interest throughout. What could have been insightful and funny on the first go-around starts to feel less and less so with each subsequent outing, especially when they don't dig very deep past the surface. Still, I think fans of the author will enjoy this story for what it is, a universal homage to loss and a life well-lived. My heartfelt thanks for the advance copy that was provided for my honest and unbiased review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ~ Bantering Books

    Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews. Call me a gambler. But I would bet money that those who adored TJ Klune’s heartfelt fantasy novel, The House in the Cerulean Sea, will also adore his latest offering, Under the Whispering Door. Because it’s more of the same. It’s the same wonderful, cozy, hilarious, kind, caring, gentle goodness we fell in love with when we read Cerulean. Only this time around, rather than themes of self-love and acceptance of others, Klune tackles a Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews. Call me a gambler. But I would bet money that those who adored TJ Klune’s heartfelt fantasy novel, The House in the Cerulean Sea, will also adore his latest offering, Under the Whispering Door. Because it’s more of the same. It’s the same wonderful, cozy, hilarious, kind, caring, gentle goodness we fell in love with when we read Cerulean. Only this time around, rather than themes of self-love and acceptance of others, Klune tackles a much heavier subject – death. But he lightens it up, shines it up, just as he did in Cerulean. He adds love, laughter, and tears to it. And as we follow newly-dead Wallace Price on his path to the hereafter, as we watch him learn to live, our insides melt to marshmallow mush. I have a few buts, though. Under the Whispering Door is a bit formulaic. The story, a bit recycled. Klune tells a tale that has been told many times before; he just dresses it with a fantastical flair. Nearly everything about the novel is predictable – the plot, the characters, the humor – and while reading it, I could never quite shake a sense of been there, done that. And Klune takes a very UNsubtle approach to the life lessons, which too, are nothing new. Live life to the fullest and don’t be an @sshole. By now, I think we’ve got it. (But I do sincerely appreciate the reminder. Admittedly, some of us need it.) All buts aside, I really did enjoy Under the Whispering Door. I truly loved it. So what if it’s not as fresh and relevant to today’s times as Cerulean? You will still laugh. You will still cry. Your insides will still melt to marshmallow mush. And you will still feel the warm embrace of Klune’s writing, hugging your heart and your soul. My sincerest appreciation to TJ Klune, Tor Books, and NetGalley for the physical and electronic Advance Review Copies. All opinions included herein are my own. Bantering Books Instagram Twitter Facebook

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hamad

    This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me ☕ “I’m dead,” he said. “There’s no going back from that. A river only moves in one direction.” Last year I read The House in the Cerulean Sea, fell in love with it and it even was among my top 3 years of the year. I haven’t read any of Klune’s book before that but I became an instant fan of his writing and this book probably became my most anticipated book of the year! I know many have similar feelings to me and are dying to read t This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me ☕ “I’m dead,” he said. “There’s no going back from that. A river only moves in one direction.” Last year I read The House in the Cerulean Sea, fell in love with it and it even was among my top 3 years of the year. I haven’t read any of Klune’s book before that but I became an instant fan of his writing and this book probably became my most anticipated book of the year! I know many have similar feelings to me and are dying to read this one (pun intended). I was super excited when I was approved for an E-ARC of this one on Edelweiss so thanks a lot for making this come true! I am going to give you a quick idea about the book and what is it about but I recommend not reading the synopsis because I felt it gave more than necessary and went into “Spoilery territory”. The book follows Wallace Price who is alive at first and is like the manager of a big law company. Then he is dead and the story follows his ghost in what could be described as the last station before the afterlife. He meets Hugo the ferryman who is responsible for helping these souls cross and the reaper Mei and then we have Nelson and Apollo who are souls that haven’t crossed yet. Is it as good as The House in the Cerulean Sea? I think I enjoyed THITCS more but I enjoyed this one very much too. I think both have this “Pixar movie” quality and this one is reminiscent of the animation movie “Soul” which I loved too. While the THITCS had a kind of optimistic and happy vibes, this was a bit toward the other spectrum discussing topics such as Death, suicide, depression and mental illness. For that specific reason there is a TW at the beginning of the book so be careful if these are things you don’t wanna read but I can assure you that the execution is exquisite! Wallace whispered, “It’s easy to let yourself spiral and fall.” “It is,” Nelson agreed. “But it’s what you do to pull yourself out of it that matters most.” The writing is very good, simplistic and easy to follow. I think it is a book for everyone such as THITCS was and the found family trope which is Klune’s specialty is found in this one too. And not to sound too grim, the heavy topics are balanced with humor and fun moments with weird characters and laugh out loud moments. Desdemona and all the secondary characters plays a huge role in this! The characters are great and very memorable. There is a queer romantic relationship in the book which was also a central thing in THITCS. I also know that Klune lost his husband to Cancer so he is also writing from experience and things that he went through so I do respect that. The world-building is good, as I said above, I love that everything was clear and easy to follow which makes it easy to read. I think some of the foreshadowing made things obvious for me but it was good anyway. I think I have mixed feelings about the ending and I stand somewhere between I am satisfied but the ending defeats the purpose of the book. “Because you’re you, and that’s who you’re supposed to be.” Summary: An overall great book with a writing that mixes humor with heavy topics in the perfect balance. The characters are very unique and memorable. The world-building and plot are easy to follow. I don’t have much to criticize about this one. P.S: I found a medical error in the book and contacted the author. He was very nice and thanked me and he told me they will check it out again and that he appreciates the email. I can’t wait to see what happens with that paragraph! ***************************************** Me: I like reading books because it makes me happy Also me: Reads T.J. Klune's books so that I can get my heart torn and cry like a baby!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    “An ending. Leading to a new beginning.” If someone had told me a week ago that I would fall in love with a book whose primary focus is death, I probably would’ve smiled and nodded politely while secretly wondering why this person was so weird. It’s not a subject a lot of people want to think about, much less read close to 400 pages focused on. TJ Klune’s wonderful gem of a book may just change your feelings on it! 40-year-old lawyer Wallace Price is a … well, replace the ‘e’ in his last name “An ending. Leading to a new beginning.” If someone had told me a week ago that I would fall in love with a book whose primary focus is death, I probably would’ve smiled and nodded politely while secretly wondering why this person was so weird. It’s not a subject a lot of people want to think about, much less read close to 400 pages focused on. TJ Klune’s wonderful gem of a book may just change your feelings on it! 40-year-old lawyer Wallace Price is a … well, replace the ‘e’ in his last name with a ‘k’, and that about sums him up. He’s aloof and cold, more concerned about the bottom line than his employees, has no friends, a failed marriage and no real conscience. When he suddenly drops dead of a heart attack one day, his is the only heart that’s broken. Enter his reaper, a deliciously sarcastic young woman named Mei, and the wonderfully good-hearted ferryman she assists, Hugo. These two very-much-alive humans are assigned to help him, and others, adjust to being dead and cross over to what lies beyond. They do this from a quirky home in the forest, Charon’s Crossing Tea and Treats, where they are as equally adept at serving customers muffins, scones and tea, as they are at helping the dead. Also living there … wait, scratch that … existing there, are the absolutely delightful ghosts of Hugo’s hilarious and sprightly grandfather, Nelson, and Hugo’s lovable, lick-happy dog, Apollo. At its heart, this is as much a book about death as it is about appreciating life and learning to live. As the opening quote suggests, an ending is merely the beginning of something new, and that’s the redemptive journey the reader goes on with Wallace … from someone who was dead inside, long before his body followed suit, to someone who sees and relishes the life, love and meaning his new “family” offers him. His transformation is a truly special one. Klune wrote a book that’s insightful and deep, without being heavy, one that made me laugh and smile over and over, and - for someone who doesn’t cry easily - made me blubber like a damn fool! I fell in love with all these characters and dreaded the book ending because I didn’t want to leave my adopted home with them in the woods. Not a lot actually happens outside the house, but the goings-on in the house were so entertaining I would’ve gladly pulled up a chair and hung out with them for as long as possible. My only complaint, which knocked it down a ½ star (but not really since I’m rounding up), is that I would’ve preferred a slightly different way of handling the ending, but not so much that I felt disappointed. Overall, a heartwarming and wonderful story! ★★★★ ½ (rounded up to 5)❤️ Thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Netgalley and author TJ Klune for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. It will be published September 21, 2021. This and all my reviews can also be found at: https://acuriouskatreads.blogspot.com/

  8. 4 out of 5

    Boston

    If you’re reading this book in hopes of the wholesome content that was The House in the Cerulean Sea, then boy are you in for a shock. Under the Whispering Door is a story about grief, death, and what comes after. As dark as it seems, it’s set in a small tea shop run by a ferryman, someone who sees spirits to the other side. It’s cozy while being sad and it will 100% break your heart a hundred times over, but it’s worth it. *thank you to the publisher for sending me an advanced copy of this book

  9. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    "a ghost who refuses to cross over and the ferryman he falls in love with" well this just became my most anticipated book of 2021!!!!!! "a ghost who refuses to cross over and the ferryman he falls in love with" well this just became my most anticipated book of 2021!!!!!!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    In Under the Whispering Door , one of two books coming from TJ Klune in the next few months, we learn that it’s never too late to make your life the way you wanted it to be. Even after you’re dead. How do I write a review of a book for which I have no words? To quote one of my favorite YA books, We Contain Multitudes , this one utterly undid me. Wallace was a successful lawyer. He should be a success; he thought about nothing but working harder and doing better, even at the expense of those In Under the Whispering Door , one of two books coming from TJ Klune in the next few months, we learn that it’s never too late to make your life the way you wanted it to be. Even after you’re dead. How do I write a review of a book for which I have no words? To quote one of my favorite YA books, We Contain Multitudes , this one utterly undid me. Wallace was a successful lawyer. He should be a success; he thought about nothing but working harder and doing better, even at the expense of those around him, including his employees. No one would ever say he was nice or friendly or compassionate or even considerate, and he didn’t care. The next thing he knows, he’s watching his funeral. And then a reaper comes to collect him for his journey onward. Wallace is angry about being dead. He demands that things be fixed because his firm has work to do. The reaper takes him to meet Hugo, the compassionate, handsome owner of a peculiar little tea shop. He’s also a ferryman, assigned to help Wallace get ready to cross over to his final destination. He’s seen anger like Wallace’s before and isn’t fazed, but he's determined to help Wallace reach his own understanding of the situation at hand. But as Wallace starts accepting his death, he starts seeing his life for what it was, where he went wrong. More than that, he starts to realize the beauty of vulnerability, the power that comes from surrounding yourself with love and kindness and companionship. Is it too late? Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea was my favorite book of last year and this very well may be my favorite of 2021. Moving, quirky, thought-provoking, and beautiful, it’s a book about living—even when you’re dead. NetGalley and Tor Books provided me with a complimentary advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!! Under the Whispering Door publishes 9/21. Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    5 stars I’ve had a fantastic reading year so far in 2021. Unfortunately, that means I’ve had a lot of book hangovers. You know. You have a fantastic 5-star read and you want to stay in that world. You don’t want to move on to something else. I’m also one of those “highly sensitive humans.” The kind that escorts ants and flies out of the house. That means that books that really make me feel (my favorite genre— “All the Feelings”) give me the worst book hangovers of all. I am now currently nursing 5 stars I’ve had a fantastic reading year so far in 2021. Unfortunately, that means I’ve had a lot of book hangovers. You know. You have a fantastic 5-star read and you want to stay in that world. You don’t want to move on to something else. I’m also one of those “highly sensitive humans.” The kind that escorts ants and flies out of the house. That means that books that really make me feel (my favorite genre— “All the Feelings”) give me the worst book hangovers of all. I am now currently nursing one of those bad ones courtesy of the charming new book from TJ Klune, the author of The House in the Cerulean Sea. I never heard of TJ Klune until I took a leap out of the box (not really a fantasy fan here) on the wildly popular The House in the Cerulean Sea. Kudos to me for grabbing that one. I loved it enough to dive into fantasyland again with Under the Whispering Door. And again, I was rewarded. What a sweet, quirky, affecting read. It’s about death and the transition to one’s next life, but it’s not what I would call religious in nature. It touches more on how people react to death and even more so on the reapers and ferrymen who work out of waystations that help the ghosts along to their final destination. Themes include denial, anger, acceptance, cruelty, the power of discussion, love, families of fate, Ouija boards and other ghostly matters. The writing is simple but endearing. I could read Mr. Klune’s writing for hours and hours. There is whimsy, wit, and poignancy. More importantly, there is originality. The book is not predictable at all and has a moving epilogue that made me cry. If you are in the mood for a whimsical yet touching and very human story, pick this one up. I highly endorse it for everyone.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    All our times have come Here but now they're gone Seasons don't fear the reaper Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain We can be like they are Come on, baby (don't fear the reaper) Baby, take my hand (don't fear the reaper) We'll be able to fly (don't fear the reaper) Baby, I'm your man -Blue Öyster Cult Wallace Price was a successful lawyer, who focused on work and not much else. Right from the get-go this book game me strong A Christmas Carol vibes. Imagine Wallace's surprise when he is met by a Reape All our times have come Here but now they're gone Seasons don't fear the reaper Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain We can be like they are Come on, baby (don't fear the reaper) Baby, take my hand (don't fear the reaper) We'll be able to fly (don't fear the reaper) Baby, I'm your man -Blue Öyster Cult Wallace Price was a successful lawyer, who focused on work and not much else. Right from the get-go this book game me strong A Christmas Carol vibes. Imagine Wallace's surprise when he is met by a Reaper at his funeral. Surprised, angry, appalled. This was not part of the plan. He can't be dead - there is work to be done! But he is dead and he is soon taken to meet Hugo, a tea shop owner and ferryman who will help him to cross over.... "Life is wasted on the living." - Douglas Adams How do you let go? How do you say goodbye to your life? What happens when you realize that the life you lived was not the life you wanted to live. What happens when you die and realize that you never really lived? When given a week to cross over, Wallace decides it is time to live a lifetime. How can a book about dying be so full of life? As I mentioned this book gave me strong A Christmas Carol vibes and I enjoyed how Wallace transformed. In death, he opens up in ways he never did in life. He becomes vulnerable, decides to live, softens up, makes connections, and does some self-reflection. I enjoyed the message of this book and although it reminded me of another book, this one had its own charm and appeal. This book is full of life and thought provoking. It brought a smile to my face while it entertained. I had not read The House in the Cerulean Sea but I will be getting my hands (eyes) on a copy soon! Thought provoking, charming and moving. Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.comm

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    Sweet, sad, serious,, sarcastic...all of the things you want in a book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    ☆ Todd

    GAHHHHH! Starting it now. : ) GAHHHHH! Starting it now. : )

  15. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    4.5 stars, rounded down This is another instance of a book I would never have thought to attempt. But several GR friends gave this book strong recommendations. And they were spot on! Wallace Price hasn’t really lived life. He’s an unlikeable workaholic. But like all of us eventually will, he dies. A reaper takes him to a waystation, if you will. It’s a tea shop run by Hugo, the ferryman who helps souls cross over. Wallace needs to come to some realization before he goes through the next door. No 4.5 stars, rounded down This is another instance of a book I would never have thought to attempt. But several GR friends gave this book strong recommendations. And they were spot on! Wallace Price hasn’t really lived life. He’s an unlikeable workaholic. But like all of us eventually will, he dies. A reaper takes him to a waystation, if you will. It’s a tea shop run by Hugo, the ferryman who helps souls cross over. Wallace needs to come to some realization before he goes through the next door. No one is pushing him and no one can help him. Over time, he does start to realize how much of life he missed out on. The book encompasses “all the feels”. It’s heartwarming, quirky, dealing with life and death, loss, grief, acceptance, forgiveness of one’s self. I was shocked to find how invested I became in Wallace and how things would play out for him. I laughed, I cried (never a good hint when listening while driving). The tea shop is home to a variety of lovely characters, but my favorites were Nelson and Apollo. For all of us who long to be joined by our dogs in death, Apollo fulfills our dreams. While I really liked this, at times it veered off into the stupid, as when Wallace attempts to learn to change his outfit. That’s the sole reason this doesn’t warrant a full five stars. Kirt Graves was the narrator and I thought he did a fabulous job. My thanks to netgalley and Macmillan Audio for an advance copy of this audiobook.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elle

    It’s no secret that I’m not typically a huge fan of ‘feel-good’ or ‘heartfelt’ stories, or as my friends rudely say, “Elle hates happy books.” But because last month Mystery Book Club teamed up with PM Reads and selected TJ Klune’s Under the Whispering Door as our book club pick for September, I was out-voted by these alleged friends. And yet despite my lukewarm reaction to The House in the Cerulean Sea, people who had read it already promised that this offering from Klune would be much more int It’s no secret that I’m not typically a huge fan of ‘feel-good’ or ‘heartfelt’ stories, or as my friends rudely say, “Elle hates happy books.” But because last month Mystery Book Club teamed up with PM Reads and selected TJ Klune’s Under the Whispering Door as our book club pick for September, I was out-voted by these alleged friends. And yet despite my lukewarm reaction to The House in the Cerulean Sea, people who had read it already promised that this offering from Klune would be much more introspective and moving, even a little heartbreaking. In general it sounded more my speed, and I decided to go in with tempered but hopeful expectations. The plot of Under the Whispering Door centers around death, which is good, score one for Elle the Blackhearted Witch. There’s a man named Wallace, who after living a leaning-negative life suddenly dies. He floats around for a bit until a strange woman named Mei takes him to meet a Reaper, Hugo, who’s supposed to be his guide into the afterlife. Eventually the astonishingly benevolent and patient Hugo wears down Wallace’s sarcastic and dismissive walls, and they fall into an easy rhythm that starts to grow into something more and oh……..no. Wait. Haven’t I read this one before? Lemme see— •corporate cog that is plucked from his mundane life ✔️ •potential love interest who see’s through the cog’s indifferent facade ✔️ •spunky female side character with a mildly concerning taste for PG violence ✔️ •parental figure who ‘tells it like it is’ and just wants the two of them to ‘get on with it’ ✔️ •animal character who is mostly human in demeanor but doesn’t talk ✔️ •magic but make it bureaucracy ✔️ •mc learns to care about people other than himself ✔️ •mc gives sanctimonious lectures to people about the error of their ways despite behaving in the same way at the beginning of the book ✔️ •mc has stuffy old person name ✔️ •remote magical location ✔️ •obscene levels of sarcasm ✔️ •found family ✔️ •(view spoiler)[thinking you have to choose between love and responsibility but JK NO YOU DON’T (hide spoiler)] ✔️ Can you tell I didn’t like Wallace? I’m sorry I tried! This was just so similar in tone and structure for me that I’m genuinely shocked people kept saying it and Cerulean were so different. The good news for fans of Klune is that if you liked that one you’ll probably enjoy Whispering Door too! But for me, I never really got into his writing. I’m gonna reiterate that there’s nothing bad or wrong with it, and some portions are clever, but for the most part I just trudged through. It’s not that I hate hope and joy, but I don’t believe the sincerity here. I have a hard time connecting with writing if it seems like the author is trying to force me to feel a certain way, and the entire book read formulaic to me. The quips get old quickly and the big ‘life lessons’ along the way are nothing but platitudes. It’s not a hope that’s earned but the most generic and vague notion of something artificially sweet. Even with the big question in a book about loss and grief, “What is life/death?”, Klune doesn’t even take a swing at it. It’s like he’s too afraid of saying the wrong thing that he’s decided to say nothing at all. Look, I’m not trying to take away anyone’s comfort reads or deny genuine emotion that the plenty of readers who loved this book felt. This is just one person’s opinion in one little review, and as much as I’d like to have enjoyed this with you all (really, I swear!!), I don’t. (view spoiler)[I also hated the ending. You could see it coming a mile away because TJ Klune does not have the capacity to let his characters suffer beyond temporary hiccups. The rules change to accommodate the main character because that’s the kind of stories he writes. Where love is the most powerful thing in the world, strong enough to literally conquer death, and this single relationship is at the center of it. I just don’t find these kinds stories sweet or reassuring, because there’s no way to carry that over into your life. If your partner dies then you have to find a way to live with that, because no magical Boss Baby is going to appear and revive them for you. I guess I just wish the author hadn’t let them ride into the sunset this time. (hide spoiler)] But please, if you haven’t read this yet and you were thinking about it, go ahead and give it a shot! I’m in the minority and I know that, this is just a review for my own mental unpacking. And for anyone who read it and doesn’t have the same warm, fuzzy feelings that the rest of the reviews would suggest—you’re not soulless, you just process your feelings a little differently. *Thanks to Tor Books for an advance review copy! **For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    Under the Whispering Door is the latest from one of my all-time favorite authors, the wonderful T.J. Klune. To say I was excited to read it would have been a massive understatement as I've read literally everything this author has written. Was I expecting great things? Yes. Did I enjoy this book? Absolutely, yes. Do I feel more conflicted about this book than I expected to feel? Also, yes. Under the Whispering Door is an interesting book in many ways. This isn't the first time that T.J. Klune has Under the Whispering Door is the latest from one of my all-time favorite authors, the wonderful T.J. Klune. To say I was excited to read it would have been a massive understatement as I've read literally everything this author has written. Was I expecting great things? Yes. Did I enjoy this book? Absolutely, yes. Do I feel more conflicted about this book than I expected to feel? Also, yes. Under the Whispering Door is an interesting book in many ways. This isn't the first time that T.J. Klune has written a sad book that revolves around death, but it still felt very different to me. I am so, so, so beyond happy that this book didn't feel like we got any recycled characters. I love TJ's writing with all my heart, but there are a few stock kinds of characters that tend to repeat themselves in his stories. Here, I feel like we got all original people, which made me so very happy. The strengths of the book are in the meaningful message and in the beautiful writing. This isn't a funny book, but there are parts that made me laugh and lots of parts that made me smile. TJ is one of the wittiest writers I know, and he can inject banter and humor into the bleakest of stories with ease (though this story isn't nearly as angsty as it could have been). I loved the dialogue and I loved the concept of the story, and I really understood the deep, personal meaning this story had for the author. Also, the ending was very touching and powerful, which I loved (always the best when a book ends on a high note). Where this book falters a bit, and what almost caused me to drop my rating lower, is the long, long middle of the story. I think this book tries to do too much. There are side plots that really didn't need to be there, and I wish this book was trimmed down a bit to make it flow more steadily. Also, I wish the MC was more grumpy/rude for longer and we got a bigger change as the book went on. I think some of the mechanics of the world and the purpose of the ferryman was a little vague, perhaps on purpose, but I felt like I wanted more structure and details in parts of the story and fewer details in other parts. The romance could also have been bumped up a notch, but that is just because I'm a die-hard romance reader, and I'm not sure this book is marketed as such. While I think there are a few things I would change about the story, it wasn't enough to keep me from wholeheartedly enjoying this book. It was a treat to read, and I think this is another story that will convert new readers to TJ and queer romance into huge fans. *Copy provided in exchange for an honest review* goodreads|instagram|twitter|tiktok

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

    EXCERPT: His funeral was sparsely attended. Wallace wasn't pleased. He couldn't even be quite sure how he'd gotten here. One moment, he'd been staring down at his body, and then he'd blinked, and somehow, found himself in front of a church, the doors open, bells ringing. It certainly hadn't helped when he saw the prominent sign sitting out front. A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF WALLACE PRICE it read. He didn't like that sign, if he was being honest with himself. No, he didn't like it one bit. Perha EXCERPT: His funeral was sparsely attended. Wallace wasn't pleased. He couldn't even be quite sure how he'd gotten here. One moment, he'd been staring down at his body, and then he'd blinked, and somehow, found himself in front of a church, the doors open, bells ringing. It certainly hadn't helped when he saw the prominent sign sitting out front. A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF WALLACE PRICE it read. He didn't like that sign, if he was being honest with himself. No, he didn't like it one bit. Perhaps someone inside could tell him what the hell was going on. ABOUT 'UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR': When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead. Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop's owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over. But Wallace isn't ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo's help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life. When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days. MY THOUGHTS: Under the Whispering Door is an utterly amazing, beautiful and inspiring story. I finished with a great sense of peace and awe. Wallace was not a nice person. This is evident at his funeral. He lacked empathy, had no friends. There is a woman at his funeral he doesn't recognize, not difficult since there are only six people there. She is different from the others - she can see him. Here starts Wallace's journey. I am so glad I got to go on that journey with him. It was a wondrous experience. This is a magical and emotionally powerful read. I cried for Wallace, for Cameron, for Nancy. I laughed at Mei's ascerbic tongue, at Nelson's antics. Under the Whispering Door is a book that will stay with me a long time, and one that I am going to purchase a hard copy of. If you haven't read this yet, please do. It's a beautiful experience. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ #UndertheWhisperingDoor #NetGalley #fivestarread #fantasy #humour #paranormal #romance I: @tjklunebooks @macmillanusa T: @ tjklune @MacmillanUSA THE AUTHOR: TJ KLUNE is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author (Into This River I Drown) and an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company. His novels include The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Extraordinaries. Being queer himself, TJ believes it's important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories. DISCLOSURE: Thank you, thank you, thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing a digital ARC of Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    DNF @ 55%: May return to this someday but putting it down for now. This was honestly...... boring????? Def not the slump killer I hoped it would be. Rip

  20. 5 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    4★ “The partners gathered at the back of the church, near Wallace’s pew, speaking in low tones. Wallace had given up trying to let them know he was still here, sitting right in front of them. They couldn’t see him. They couldn’t hear him. . . . Maybe they’d even shed a tear or two. He hoped so. ‘He was an a**hole,’ Moore said finally. ‘Such an a**hole,’ Hernandez agreed. ‘The biggest,’ Worthington said.” So - not a nice man then. Going to be missed like a sore tooth. If lawyer Wallace Price was sur 4★ “The partners gathered at the back of the church, near Wallace’s pew, speaking in low tones. Wallace had given up trying to let them know he was still here, sitting right in front of them. They couldn’t see him. They couldn’t hear him. . . . Maybe they’d even shed a tear or two. He hoped so. ‘He was an a**hole,’ Moore said finally. ‘Such an a**hole,’ Hernandez agreed. ‘The biggest,’ Worthington said.” So - not a nice man then. Going to be missed like a sore tooth. If lawyer Wallace Price was surprised to find himself invisible and unlamented at his funeral, wait until a young woman arrives who can not only see and hear him, she has plans for him! He’s a nasty piece of work, but he’s also amusing. Klune makes him so oblivious of others in an over-the-top way, that we rejoice when a sudden heart attack takes him out in the first chapter. Back to the funeral. As Wallace watches his partners and his ex-wife bid him farewell (good riddance), the young woman introduces herself. “‘Wallace Price,’ she said. ‘My name is Meiying, but you can call me Mei, like the month, only spelled a little different. I’m here to bring you home.’ . . . ‘Oh, and I’m your Reaper, here to take you where you belong.’ And then, as if the moment wasn’t strange enough, she made jazz hands. ‘Ta da.’” That little jazz hands comment and the TA-DA is a good indication of the tone that runs through this story that is both funny and tender. Mei takes him to a small village with a teashop: “CHARON’S CROSSING TEA AND TREATS”, where he meets the ferryman, Hugo Freeman. The author has fun with references to mythology, folk tales, and religion. This ferryman is responsible for helping souls move on when they are ready, but not across the River Styx to Hades. The ‘river’ here is more of a vertical pull through a door in the roof, way high up, many storeys above the teashop, to whatever hereafter awaits. I enjoyed the growing affection between the characters, real and otherwise, and Wallace’s gradual, ironic realisation of what life is all about. The pranks they played during a customer's seances were a hoot. “She cleared her throat once more. ‘Hello, spirits. I have received your message. Who are you? What is it you want? Did you die horribly, perhaps by being bludgeoned to death with a hammer in a crime of passion and have unfinished business that only I, Desdemona Tripplethorne of Desdemona Tripplethorne’s Sexy Seances (trademark pending), can help you with? Who is your murderer? Is it someone in this room?’” There is a lot more moralising and philosophising than I care for, which makes the story move slowly, but we know Wallace doesn’t understand subtlety, so he needs some serious prodding. No, he needs to be hit over the head, so the author does that, as well as scares the living daylights out of him, although I guess ghosts don’t have ‘living daylights’ (eyes) anymore. I was never sure why ghosts could drink tea but didn’t eat, but maybe I missed the explanation. Who cares? It was good fun and I enjoyed it. I absolutely loved The House in the Cerulean Sea, and I liked this enough that I'm looking forward to my time in the teashop! Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for the preview copy from which I’ve quoted, so quotes may have changed.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Isabella

    I cant wait for everyone to read this book so we can cry together

  22. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    ARC provided by publisher i am simply quaking at this cover and synopsis Blog | Instagram | Youtube | Ko-fi | Spotify | Twitch ARC provided by publisher i am simply quaking at this cover and synopsis Blog | Instagram | Youtube | Ko-fi | Spotify | Twitch

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melissa (LifeFullyBooked)

    Waffled a lot about my rating on this one. Some parts of this are 4 star and some are 2 star, so I guess settling on 3 is good. I liked this book, but didn't love it like I did The House in the Cerulean Sea, which was one of my top reads last year. What I liked: This is such a heartfelt, humorous story about an angry man named Wallace who has died and is now in a waystation disguised as a tea shop, in the company of Hugo, his ferryman, and Mei, his reaper. Also there are ghosts Nelson (Hugo's gran Waffled a lot about my rating on this one. Some parts of this are 4 star and some are 2 star, so I guess settling on 3 is good. I liked this book, but didn't love it like I did The House in the Cerulean Sea, which was one of my top reads last year. What I liked: This is such a heartfelt, humorous story about an angry man named Wallace who has died and is now in a waystation disguised as a tea shop, in the company of Hugo, his ferryman, and Mei, his reaper. Also there are ghosts Nelson (Hugo's grandfather) and Apollo (Hugo's dog). The book gave me lots of warm feelings about what it means to be human and how even the most hardened hearts can be changed and people can grow. What didn't work so well: As I said in one of my updates, some of the humorous sections, such as Wallace learning how to change his clothes, are more farcical, kind of physical comedy written more for an eventual viewer of a movie than for the reader. Some parts with the medium and such just felt silly, which would have been fine if that is what the book was about but it's not really. It's more of a contemplative story in the end. This book doesn't mesh with my belief system about death, and that's fine. It's fantasy. I could have overlooked it if it would have been fresh and original but the Whispering Door and going through it feels like a mashing together of parts of things that people already believe and didn't wow or touch me like it should have. I never really "got" the Manager or what he was supposed to be. I thought the conclusion with Wallace was wholly unsurprising and would have liked it much better if it had gone a way I wasn't expecting rather than taking the easy way out. My complaints don't mean that the book was a bad read or that you should avoid it, it was just disappointing because I was expecting SO much more after Cerulean Sea. I listened to this as an audiobook and narrator Kirt Graves does an amazing job with the various voices and distinguishing the characters. He provides whimsy when it is needed and somberness when it turns that way. All in all, it's a good book, just not as great as I was hoping for. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinons are my own.

  24. 5 out of 5

    preoccupiedbybooks

    Rtc

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shaun Hutchinson

    It was everything I wanted it to be and more.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Another charming book from T.J. Klune full of the most warm and wonderful characters. This time dealing with grief, death and making the most of the life we have. Wallace Price, successful but arrogant and selfish attorney who lives only to work, finds himself dead at his own poorly attended funeral, after a mid-life heart attack. Come to collect him is a Reaper who whisks him off to a tea shop in a little village where Hugo the Ferryman waits to help him cross to the next stage. Wallace is stil Another charming book from T.J. Klune full of the most warm and wonderful characters. This time dealing with grief, death and making the most of the life we have. Wallace Price, successful but arrogant and selfish attorney who lives only to work, finds himself dead at his own poorly attended funeral, after a mid-life heart attack. Come to collect him is a Reaper who whisks him off to a tea shop in a little village where Hugo the Ferryman waits to help him cross to the next stage. Wallace is still angry not ready to go, but is given time to reflect on the life he barely enjoyed and accept his death. As with House in the Cerulean Sea, Klune’s warmth and wit shine through. Hugo, his grandfather Nelson and Apollo the dog are delightfully quirky characters. Although the plot is about death and grief and is a little dark in places, it is given a sensitive treatment to be heartwarming and hopeful and, ultimately more about living the best life you can without regrets. With thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and Netgalley for a copy to read

  27. 5 out of 5

    Darcey

    ARC copy provided in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my rating or review. 5 GORGEOUS STARS Just reach into my chest and tear out my heart, why don’t you, TJ? It would feel the same as reading this book and then coming to terms with the fact that these delightful and absolutely beautiful characters aren’t real, and I will never be able to walk into Hugo’s tea shop. “Everyone loses their way at some point, and it’s not just because of their mistakes or the decisions they make. ARC copy provided in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my rating or review. 5 GORGEOUS STARS Just reach into my chest and tear out my heart, why don’t you, TJ? It would feel the same as reading this book and then coming to terms with the fact that these delightful and absolutely beautiful characters aren’t real, and I will never be able to walk into Hugo’s tea shop. “Everyone loses their way at some point, and it’s not just because of their mistakes or the decisions they make. It’s because they’re horribly, wonderfully human.” (This quote may not be in the published version of this novel, it was copied from the advanced reader’s copy.) This book was ripe with TJ’s signature quirk, gay-ness and humour, and I loved it. So much. The writing was phenomenal as always, the romance was adorable and the humour was subtle but brilliant – but most of all, the character development from our main character, and the themes woven into the novel – those were what really made Under the Whispering Door stand out to me. Live-Wallace was a dickhead, and this was clear from the start. He made me laugh, but it was more laughing-through-the-pain as I imagined having to deal with him on a daily basis than truly laughing, because damn, this man did not give a crap about people in his daily life. But dead-Wallace… well, I’m not going to lie to you and say that dead-Wallace immediately realised all his mistakes in life and vowed to be a nice person forevermore – certainly not – but dead-Wallace went through some of the most realistic and heartrending character development that I’ve seen portrayed in a book for a long time. Or possibly ever. Wallace was a masterfully written character, and he has a way of sneaking into your heart when you let your guard down – because of course you could never grow to like this man, what an asshole – and then shooting out spikes to latch himself in there so that you can never remove him. And Hugo… well, Hugo was just an absolute cutie, and I loved the way his mental-health problems were portrayed, because more mental-health awareness is always a pro. I hope I find a relationship like the one between Wallace and Hugo one-day, because I’ll only accept two things in life for me to be happy with the world – a relationship like the one these two have, or being turned into Mei, because she was an absolute icon. And the latter is less likely, unfortunately. I also really loved the themes that TJ threaded through this novel; the messages about death and life and grief and love and everything in between. Death was a vital aspect of this story, and TJ wrote about it brilliantly, managing to not make anything too harsh nor too delicate, instead simply portraying death as something inevitable but not necessarily final. “Death has a beauty to it. We don’t see it because we don’t want to.” (This quote may not be in the published version of this novel, it was copied from the advanced reader’s copy.) Overall, this novel was absolutely amazing, and everything – from the queer rep to the subtle racism aspects to the humour to the cute doggo – was so captivating and fascinating to read about, I couldn’t put this down. Protect Mei… and Hugo and Nelson and Apollo and Wallace and all of them, because they’re all such cuties, and definitely characters who I’ll read about over and over as I reread this book more times than I can count! I’m in love, and if TJ appeared outside my house right now and asked for help hiding a body, I would say yes if only he’d give me ARCs to the rest of his books forever. Read this book! Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC copy provided in exchange for an honest review❤.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    “It took you dying to find your humanity. It’s hysterical if you think about it.” I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this because T.J. Klune will have zero trouble moving copies after the success of The House in the Cerulean Sea. While that story was one about life and a bit reminiscent of …. This was all about death. Wallace’s death in particular. Known for being a real curmudgeon, Wallace finds himself unexpectedly attending his own funeral after a heart attack sneaks up on him and “It took you dying to find your humanity. It’s hysterical if you think about it.” I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this because T.J. Klune will have zero trouble moving copies after the success of The House in the Cerulean Sea. While that story was one about life and a bit reminiscent of …. This was all about death. Wallace’s death in particular. Known for being a real curmudgeon, Wallace finds himself unexpectedly attending his own funeral after a heart attack sneaks up on him and causes his untimely demise. It is then he meets his reaper and his ferryman (as well as a granddad and a pooch) who have been assigned the task of getting him through the door on the fourth floor. I didn’t know how much I needed this book until I was reading it. An unexpected death had just touched my own family and work stress had been getting the best of me for a few weeks when my turn at the library came up. Sometimes I don’t realize his much I need a good cry until a fictional story draws it out of me. So I cried like a baby (as soon as you meet Cameron just do yourself a favor and put this down until you confirm you have an ample supply of Kleenex) and I also laughed and I “awwwwwwwed” and just like the Cerulean Sea, Klune delivered yet another antidote to all of the suckage that can be found in real life every day. But I stand by it being okay to fire the paralegal who filed the pleading out of time. That’s a big no no and the boss isn’t an a-hole for not allowing a mulligan on that one! P.S. This might be my favorite house cover ever : )

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sheyla ✎

    Is not a secret that I absolutely loved The House in the Cerulean Sea. It made me a fan of T.J. Klune. So of course I was going to read his next book. Under the Whispering Door had me at Apollo. Who doesn't like a ghost dog that is always happy to see you and lick you to death? (no pun intended) Ok, maybe it had me at more. Quirky characters, a tea shop, a love story, and learning the lesson to be a better person and to enjoy life while you can. These are all things I took away from the story. Wa Is not a secret that I absolutely loved The House in the Cerulean Sea. It made me a fan of T.J. Klune. So of course I was going to read his next book. Under the Whispering Door had me at Apollo. Who doesn't like a ghost dog that is always happy to see you and lick you to death? (no pun intended) Ok, maybe it had me at more. Quirky characters, a tea shop, a love story, and learning the lesson to be a better person and to enjoy life while you can. These are all things I took away from the story. Wallace Price is a ruthless lawyer. When the book begins he is firing an employee who is already in an economic bind. For Wallace, the only thing that matters is his job. He spends enough hours to know this is what gives him satisfaction. His marriage failed because his priority was his job. So when Wallace suffers a heart attack and dies, no one is more shocked than him. Shocked and angry that is. Wallace meets his reaper first, Mei at his own funeral. She is there to take him to the Ferryman who would help Wallace understand what is happening to him and then guided him to the next step. When they arrived at Charon's Crossing Tea and Treats, Wallace meets Hugo, the Ferryman, the ghost of Hugo's grandfather, Nelson, and Hugo's ghost dog, Apollo. As the days progress, Wallace goes through similar stages of grief and he begins to understand and assimilate that he is dead. Then, the Manager shows up and gives him 7 more days before crossing and Wallace sets himself to right some wrongs before it's too late. I listened to the audio which was fantastic. The narrator Kirt Graves does an amazing job at separating all the characters and making them fun to listen to. It made it so smooth and clear. Never doubting which "voice" was talking. As I said earlier, Under the Whispering Door was charming and quirky in the most endearing way! Cliffhanger: No 4/5 Fangs A complimentary copy was provided by Tor Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

  30. 5 out of 5

    Toni

    Loved it... What a beautiful book! Heartwarming… This word has become a commonplace in commercial fiction reviews, but never have I felt this description has been more accurate than in talking about Under the Whispering Door. If you loved The House at the Cerulean Sea and are worried it isn’t going to live up to your high expectations, rest assured T.J.Klune’s trademark writing style is as beautiful as ever. If this is your first book by this amazing author, welcome to his world of quirky charact Loved it... What a beautiful book! Heartwarming… This word has become a commonplace in commercial fiction reviews, but never have I felt this description has been more accurate than in talking about Under the Whispering Door. If you loved The House at the Cerulean Sea and are worried it isn’t going to live up to your high expectations, rest assured T.J.Klune’s trademark writing style is as beautiful as ever. If this is your first book by this amazing author, welcome to his world of quirky characters, original storylines, tender moments, drama and optimism. This time T.J.Klune tackles the topic that rarely gets discussed, although it is the only certainty in our lives- we are all born and we all die, and sooner or later we all have to face this inevitaility and come to terms with it. The protagonist of the book Wallace Price may have a bit of a problem accepting the fact that he died of a heart attack in his office at the ripe age of forty. His funeral is a sad, but eye-opening affair with only four colleagues and a bitter ex-wife in attendance. Then, a Reaper appears and takes him to a waystation between Life and Death, a quaint tea-shop run by the Ferryman Hugo, the Reaper Mei, Hugo’s dead grandfather and Hugo’s dog. The purpose is to make sure Wallace has enough time (and courage) to get ready to move on to the next stage, and he is the only one who decides when he is. This is a beautiful story of second chances in the most hopeless situation, and Wallace does get his chance to change from a heartless corporate lawyer who doesn’t take no for an answer into a much better person. The story doesn't come across as over-serious or solemn. Not that there aren’t any poignant or even heart-breaking moments- T.J.Klune doesn’t shy away from more difficult aspects- violent death, death of a child from a terminal disease, death by suicide…Yet, there is also kindness and humour and lots of tea…The tea chosen by Hugo is unique for every person who comes to the Charon’s Crossing Tea shop, a great reminder that like everybody’s life and what we make of it is different, everyone’s death is different too. The supporting characters are absolutely wonderful. Hugo, the Ferryman, is the embodiment of empathy and love. He carries the weight of his mistakes on his shoulders, because in a way he is the last frontier of humanity in this setting. His mistakes are all about finding a delicate balance of showing you love and care, and letting the other person exercise their free will, trusting them to do what is the best. The Reaper Mei, the one with the best hugs in the world, knows too well what it’s like not to be accepted because you’re different. Nelson, apart from being deliciously mischievious, throws light on the issue of being there for the person when and until they need you and then letting go when they truly get on their feet. All of the characters in the book help each other to correct their mistakes, to heal, to become stronger, to find love and peace of mind. This is a love story, although romance is of a slow-burn kind- where there is life, there is love, and this is T.J.Klune’s unique point of view on afterlife. The romance gradually, slowly develops, and it’s impossible not to wish well to this adorable couple. The Manager and the ending have surprised me… I thought I knew where the story was going and then there was a twist (should have expected given what we were told about Wallace’s character) and things have taken a new, hopeful turn. I loved this beautiful and unpredictable book ….If you are looking for something heartfelt, original, philosophical at times, humorous at other times, Under the Whispering Door is a book for you. Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Books for the review copy, provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

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