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.
Have you ever known from the moment you met a character that the book your are reading is about to break your heart? This happened with the characters in Under the Whispering Door, but not in the way I thought they would. I did cry though. A lot! Not for sad reasons though, just an ‘all the emotions’ reason. My favourite kind of book!
This is the first TJ Klune novel I have read, and after this I will definitely be looking for other novels of his. From the first page I already had a feeling I would love this novel and it’s characters, by the end of chapter one I was hooked entirely. There is something beautifully warm about the way that Klune has written this novel, like a warm hug or a cup of tea on a cold day. I couldn’t get enough. So much so that I just wanted to read it all over again the moment I finished it.
The concept for this novel is so wonderfully unique, and beautifully executed too. It delves into concepts of death, loss and grief, as well as love, acceptance of self, and personal growth. Each of these are carefully written, and teased out in such a way that they make you really think deeply and reflect on your own life.
The characters in this novel are all delightful. Each one of the main group I would love to be able know them myself. Something else who h is really beautiful within this novel is the journey of growth and understanding the main character Wallace goes through. It is subtlety (and not so subtlety) threaded throughout the novel as he realises the person he was, and who he has the potential to be (and wants to be).
The romance in this novel was the most delicate slow burn. While I had a feeling that this was going to be the case, it still seemed to take me by surprise in the best way possible. The pair are gentle with each other and really listen to each other. This is one of those relationships which was meant to be, but the timing was wrong for one half. This difficulty of the situation was heartbreaking, but beautiful to read.
Under the Whispering Door was such a wonderful read. It handled the darker themes with care, but not so much that they didn’t hold weight throughout the story. It was heartfelt and filled with beautiful characters and a funny, quick witted humour which I loved. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a well written, character focused story with a tender slow burn queer romance. This was definitely a favourite read for this year.
Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy), I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title was published 21st September 2021.