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Under the Whispering Door

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2021)
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.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published September 21, 2021

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About 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.

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5 stars
80,610 (43%)
4 stars
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 29,667 reviews
Profile Image for Yun.
521 reviews21.7k followers
July 31, 2023
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 copy that was provided for my honest and unbiased review.

See also, my thoughts on:
The House in the Cerulean Sea
In the Lives of Puppets

Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
September 11, 2021
“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
Profile Image for Riley.
429 reviews21.7k followers
November 29, 2021
"a ghost who refuses to cross over and the ferryman he falls in love with"

well. i basically sobbed through this book
Profile Image for T.J..
Author 61 books39.7k followers
October 20, 2020
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
Profile Image for mina reads™️.
544 reviews7,019 followers
March 24, 2022
Are you serious? LMFAOO

I have an intense love for TJ Klune and have enjoyed everything I've read by him up until this point but this book just wasn't it.

As much as I typically enjoy TJ's quirky writing it just absolutely did not do it for me here. For a story that is attempting to be a meditation on death and dying this is about as deep as a kiddie pool and as emotionally moving as my morning cornflakes.

This book attempts to do a few things and I think it fails at each.
1) moving journey of emotional growth for Wallace the shitty white man mc and it was a fail
2) found family and it was a fail
3) have discussions of death, loss and dying that tug at your heart strings, which it tries its best at throughout the narrative but then spits in your face as a reader by the end.
4) crafting a swoon-worthy romance between Wallace and Hugo which is perhaps the biggest fail of all

There's also something to be said about the magical, endlessly patient POC tasked with emotionally rehabilitating this shitty man who essentially becomes mr. perfect overnight and whom hugo is inexplicably enamored with but I don't want to be too political in this review. Overall it did nothing for me and I wouldn't recommend it.
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,402 followers
December 4, 2021
Now a Goodreads Choice finalist in Fantasy! 🤔

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 ✔️

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.

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!
Profile Image for Melissa ~ Bantering Books.
249 reviews992 followers
September 11, 2021
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
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,048 reviews1,383 followers
October 3, 2021
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!

Profile Image for Kat (semi-hiatus until October).
242 reviews664 followers
August 28, 2021
“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/
Profile Image for Katie Colson.
676 reviews6,880 followers
March 11, 2022
I cannot fathom how this man wrote the House in the Cerulean Sea (which I loved) and then took the same tropes and characters and level of magic and wrote a book that is this bad. I'm truly shocked.

In chapter one, Wallace is an asshole. Plain and simple. He sucks. Then in chapter two he miraculously gets a personality transplant and becomes a saint. The only wrong doing he feels any guilt over his the one he committed in chapter one (and his ex wife, who deserves way better tbh).

The insta-love! There's no chemistry. There's no reason why they should like each other. But BOOM! They're suddenly secretly in love.

This is all supposed to happen over the course of a week? Um........oooooookay. I just don't buy any of it and I don't like the characters and it fell so flat for me that I'm mad at this point.
Profile Image for preoccupiedbybooks.
465 reviews1,113 followers
October 26, 2021
A whimsical, charming and soft exploration of death, loss and grief

Mean, cold and angry lawyer, Wallace price is shocked when he realises at his own funeral that he has in fact died. He then meets his reaper, who has come to take him to a ferryman, who will help his soul cross over. Wallace is appalled that he is dead, he can't be, he has so much work to do! Set in a cosy teashop in the mountains, Wallace soon realises that there is more to life than work, and as his new acquaintances get under his skin, he has to face up to the things he has missed out on in life

I adored The House in the Cerulean Sea, so jumped at this one with both feet when I heard about it! The cover is gorgeous too! Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this one as much. I liked it, but didn't love it, and that was for a few reasons. Firstly it just felt too similar to Cerulean. Wallace was Linus, Hugo was Arthur and they have their band of merry and adorable side characters living in a remote house. For the first part of the book, I kept hearing the narrator's voices for Linus and Arthur, which annoyed me! It was just too samey. Had I read this first, maybe I would have enjoyed it more, but I couldn't stop noticing the familiar characters, setting and tone.
I found the book predictable, and reminiscent of other stories, and do not get me started on that disappointing and frustrating ending, which I felt negated all the progress, and the message in the book?!
It was also hugely heavy handed in it's message, which I guess Cerulean was also, but I didn't mind it there because I was so charmed by everything else! This felt overly preachy, and grated on me with it's constant hammering home about the value of life, coming to terms with death, and being a better person. It felt repetitive and a bit cliché if I'm honest!

However, it was heart-warming, quirky and cute. Like a cosy blanket, it gave me warm, fuzzy feels and felt comforting. It was humorous, and I applaud T.J. Klune for being able to write about death, and make it emotional and uplifting, rather than depressing. It had a good balance in that respect.

I enjoyed the world building, and could really visualise the quirky teashop and all the characters. Perhaps it would make a good film?

The found family, as in Cerulean, were the best! They were my favourite part of this story! I loved sarcastic Mei, hilarious Nelson, and Apollo the ghost dog was adorable! Wallace I loved less, especially at the start, but I did begin to root for him as he started to show his vulnerability and true feelings. I didn't really buy the love story though, and didn't feel it was necessary.

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy this, but it just wasn't as good as I was expecting. It didn't move me like I thought it would, but I liked the overall message and the characters were wonderful! If you are looking for a familiar tale, which reminds you of cerulean, or are reading this one first, then you might love it, many others certainly did!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for the ARC, in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Boston.
421 reviews1,878 followers
April 10, 2021
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
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.4k followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
October 19, 2021
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
Profile Image for ☆ Todd.
1,369 reviews1,507 followers
February 6, 2022

I truly wanted to love this book just as much as I did TJ's "House in the Cerulean Sea", but while it was good, approaching very good, it never quite got into 5-star awesomeness contention for me.

I enjoyed how Wallace started out as a completely awful excuse for a human being, then grew by leaps and bounds, after his death made him confront truths about what a life well-lived should actually entail.

Then Hugo was introduced as a ferryman, tasked to help newly-dead souls adjust and cross over. He was a very nice guy, but I found him to be a bit... generic? I don't know, his character never just really grabbed me in the same way that many of TJ's others immediately have. So... meh.

Upon being introduced to the Cameron character, a soul who had completely lost the tether to his humanity, unable to cross over into the afterlife, I quickly and correctly guessed almost exactly how the book would end. What Hugo's ultimate role in The Big Picture of Life & Death would be.

My favorite parts of the book were the proxy hugs by Mei between Wallace and Hugo, as neither MC was able to physically touch the other, and the scenes with "The Manager", Hugo's boss, who was both scary and adorable in equal measure. I thought that depicting him as a young boy was a good move, instead of portraying him as some scary, unapproachable figure.

The story did have a lot of humor, but unlike soooooo many of TJ's previous books, I wouldn't say that there were any truly hilarious parts, which I live for when reading this author.

Overall though, while I liked the book, sometimes a lot, I never really fall in love with it. Whatever quality that "House in the Cerulean Sea" had that made it magical, in this story, that was just... missing. 🤔

If any other author had written it, I think I would've liked the same story better, but since it was TJ, I kind of expect a little extra oomph in the feels department.

As my GR friend Heike said, "When there was something happening, I loved the story. But, sadly, 75% was talking about life and death. I don't need that when I pick up a romantic fantasy."

So I'd rate it at around 4 *good-but-not-awesome* stars.
Profile Image for Jenny Lawson.
Author 6 books17.5k followers
September 12, 2021
Sweet, sad, serious,, sarcastic...all of the things you want in a book.
Profile Image for Christine.
596 reviews1,183 followers
August 10, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Kasia.
207 reviews21 followers
September 9, 2021
**ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review**

I've read a fair share of boring books this year but this one finally pushed me over the edge, straight into a bitter embrace of major reading slump.

Wallace Price is an extremely self-centered, cold, unapproachable, career-oriented, bloodthirsty etc etc lawyer. After unexpected heart attack his spirit is transported to a cozy tea shop where he meets his ferrymen, Hugo, that will help him cross to the nether world. After countless pages of platitudes about death, acknowledgement and validation of even the tiniest feelings, numerous tears trickling down the characters cheeks and a lukewarm romance between Wallace and Hugo we are granted with a very predictable ending where the Christmas is saved hard-hearted lawyer transforms into a caring, lovable person. It's not a bad story line per se, but since we have no idea why Wallace became such a cold man in the first place his change of heart seems effortless, insignificant and pretty out of blue. One day he simply decides to stop being a douche and from that moment he is someone completely different. There is also a cast of side characters that for the most part have nothing to do with the main plot and it seems they are added to the book only to be hideous, flirt with Hugo and make Wallace jealous.

The overall message of the book is very discordant and there are moments when it contradicts itself. It tries to preach about letting go and moving on after the death of someone close to you but when you really, really, really love the person that passed just go ahead and cling to them with all your might. The characters are supposed to be empathetic to the bone but they will treat the people they don't like in a very unempathetic way. There is no god but there is a god-like figure that will deny being any kind of deity. Just you know, an eternal creature that for some unfathomable reasons is interested in people and how to swiftly move them to the nether world.

It's almost 400 pages filled to the brim with truisms like "it's ok to make mistakes", "being flawed is part of being a human", "you can always change" etc. If you feel like you need this kind of reassurance then go for this book otherwise I think its a bit boring.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,513 reviews29.4k followers
August 8, 2021
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/.
January 18, 2022
Rounded up from around 4.5 Stars ⭐️

Under the whispering door follows Wallace, recently deceased. He is collected by a Reaper and taken to Hugo, a ferryman who will help him to cross over. But Wallace is reluctant to let go of the world he knows.

This book would have been a solid 5 stars for me if it weren’t for the first 60%-70% of the book. I enjoyed it, it made me laugh a lot and I loved the characters. But it just felt slow, and relatively uneventful. That being said, I think it did really help me to connect with the characters in the novel, I just found my attention waning at times. However, I loved the last section of this book. It was exciting and incredibly emotional. I cried so hard I got a headache! I love that this book had me laughing out loud and sobbing until it hurt.

I also loved the representation in this book. With characters of colour and/or from the LGBTQ+ community. It’s beautiful to be able to read a book with representation. I particularly fell in love with Mei and Nelson. Mei felt so vivid in my mind, I’ve never quite connected with a character like I did with her and I will definitely feel a little lost without her. I haven’t read The House in the Cerulean Sea yet, so I cannot compare the two. But as my first step into TJ Klune’s novels I loved it!

I would recommend this to any fantasy novel lovers who like representation and emotional moments in their novels! Please be aware there are some possible trigger warnings in relation to this book.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,419 reviews35.2k followers
September 26, 2021
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

Profile Image for Melissa (Semi-hiatus Very Behind).
4,648 reviews2,112 followers
October 11, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,883 reviews5,802 followers
October 5, 2021
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*

Profile Image for Sandysbookaday .
2,049 reviews2,105 followers
October 25, 2022
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/...
Profile Image for Whitney Erwin.
199 reviews
April 30, 2022
I was so excited to read this one but sadly finished the book slightly disappointed. I fell in love with TJ Klune’s writing style when I read House in the Cerulean Sea. It is quirky and witty with the perfect amount of humor sprinkled in. Under the Whispering Door definitely has all that but with a more dark, melancholy tone. The characters in this book were fabulous and the storyline for the book was interesting but for me the book was too long and drawn out. The story didn’t seem to go anywhere fast. The book ended perfect and it was readable, however some spots were just slow and repetitive.

Thank you so much Net Galley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for a copy of this book in return for my honest review.
Profile Image for Liz.
2,143 reviews2,761 followers
September 10, 2021
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.
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