Under the Whispering DoorUnder the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune
Published by Tor Books on September 21, 2021
Pages: 384
View Title on Goodreads
Bantering Books Rating: four-stars

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.

Bantering Books Review

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.