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.
HUGE thank you to Tor Books, TJ Klune, and Netgalley for sharing this e-arc with me. The following review is my honest opinion and reflects my reading experience.
I fell in love with TJ Klune’s writing last year when I read The House in the Cerulean Sea. That book is so powerful and special. It has become one of my all time favorite books . . . easily in my top five. So when I heard that TJ was releasing a new book I was so excited. (Side note: I want to read his other series and I have a couple of his other books I just haven’t gotten to them yet). The cover and synopsis for Under the Whispering Door immediately captured my attention. I was THRILLED when I received the approval notification from Netgalley.
Under the Whispering Door is a really great book. Did it impact me as much as House did? No. But that does not take away from this story. Under the Whispering Door tells the story of Wallace, a man who recently died and is now being guided by his reaper and the ferryman. My absolute favorite part of Under the Whispering Door was the characters. TJ Klune truly has such an incredible gift of writing the most beautiful characters. Hugo, Mei, Norman, Apollo, and Wallace were all so special. I loved reading their day to day interactions in the tea shop. The relationships that develop between each of the characters are also so well done. I especially enjoyed Mei and Wallace’s friendship. When he first meets Mei, Wallace seemed determined to not like her. But he couldn’t resist her charm!! I grew attached to these characters and definitely shed a few tears.
Under the Whispering Door is primarily a character driven story. I like to read both character and plot driven stories, so I really enjoyed this one. However, I will say that the pacing was a bit off. Because of this I’m not sure I’m sold on the love story. My only other small qualm is that the big life lessons that Wallace learns throughout his time in the tea shop are fairly obvious. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it just wasn’t anything new.
Under the Whispering Door was a fantastic combination of heartbreaking and heartwarming. TJ Klune tells a beautiful story of grief, hope, and family complete with his signature warmth and humor. Reading TJ’s books feels like coming home. I am so glad that I discovered him!