Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: September 21st, 2021
Synopsis: 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 withWhen 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. (Goodreads)
Last year I saw numerous rave reviews for T.J. Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea, and while I still haven’t had a chance to read it, I did finally purchase it. I’ve also enjoyed the first two books in his Extraordinaires series, so I was quite excited to be approved for an eARC of Under the Whispering Door. I’m writing this review after just finishing it and I am happy to say this ticked off all of my boxes.
The characters were wonderful, starting with Wallace. Before he died he was a cold-hearted, selfish man who didn’t appear to have an empathetic bone in his body. But after his death, when he meets sassy Mei, a reaper, and she brings him to Charon’s Crossing Tea and Treats, where he’s introduced to Hugo, a ferryman, his road to redemption begins. Also residing in this strange weigh station are Hugo’s deceased dog, Apollo, and his grandfather, Nelson. It’s a quirky little family and they take hold of your heart almost instantly. The Manager is a little more frightening, as he’s very much an unknown, although near the end even he undergoes a transformation of sorts. The setting of the tea shop and its quirkier attributes is very visual and I could easily picture it in my head. This isn’t what you’d call an action-packed story, but then it’s not meant to be. By turns it’s a whimsical, heartbreaking, and thoughtful exploration of death, grief, and letting go. It’s quite unlike anything I’ve read and I can honestly say I fell in love with both the characters and the story.
Under the Whispering Door is an absolute treasure of a book that by turns will have you laughing out loud, and sobbing into a tissue. Most of all, it will leave you sad when you’ve come to the end and will remain in your mind even after you’ve moved on to other books.