Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune reviewed

Under the Whispering Door Book Cover Under the Whispering Door
TJ Klune
Pan Macmillan, Tor
October 28, 2021

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.

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

In Under the Whispering Door Wallace Price discovers he is dead at his own funeral. To say he is annoyed would be something of an understatement. He has places to go and people to see. The reaper who comes to collect him from the funeral – Mei – isn’t really appreciated by Wallace and he insists on seeing her boss. Given that was what would have happened anyway Mei takes him to a tea shop outside a small village in a very rural setting. Hugo runs it however he is also a ferryman who helps people to cross over. He offers Wallace a cup of tea. Wallace cannot recall ever having drunk tea before and is less than impressed. He is an important partner at a law firm and expects to be taken seriously. Dead is simply not an option.

It’s fair to say that we do find out early on that Wallace was not really loved by anyone. That said there isn’t really anyone he loved either. He comes over as a very unlikeable character. Mei seems competent at her job as a reaper. She is alive but can see and touch the dead and is there to help if she can. Hugo was something of a mystery to me to start with. So he runs a tea shop (and knows a lot about very different teas) and is a ferryman – hum…

I was very easily hooked by Under the Whispering Door, a well written fantasy tale. If a fantasy book about death, reapers and ferrymen with a distinct gay slant are not your thing then this is probably not for you. My taste in books is very broad and my main requirement is that they hold my attention and engage me. This did. The characters – including a dog ghost – all developed well. The pace and writing were very good. The idea in Under the Whispering Door – rather odd though it was – worked well for me. There is far more to this than my outline suggest however I would far rather that those interested found out more for themselves.

T J Klune was not an author I’d come across before. However I will definitely be reading more of his books as and when I get the chance. If off the wall and gay work for you this and maybe the author’s other books are well worth a look. 4.5/5 I think.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review