Under the Whispering Door by T J Klune
Title: Under the Whispering Door
Author: TJ Klune
Publisher: Pan Macmillan, Tor
Published Date: October 28th 2021
Length: 373 pages
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, LGBTQIA, etc.
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.
It’s rather unavoidable that I talk about the author’s other book which was my introduction to this author’s works. I really enjoyed that book and fell in love with every character I came across in that book. The reason I am still talking about House in the Cerulean Sea is that I didn’t really love any of the characters to the point where I fell in love with the book too.
We meet Wallace as he’s trying his level best to dismiss an employee who’s singing his praises for being understanding. Wallace is not a lovable or perhaps even likeable man from what we see of him in the initial chapters and that’s generally not a tipping point for me but the thing with Wallace is that we never see the growth in his character. We are shown how casually thoughtless and cruel he can be and then he dies and taken to the afterlife and throughout the first half of the book, I kept looking for signs that show that he’s changed as a person or even seeing things from a different perspective and to a certain extent, he did change but I was left wanting more.
This book tries to deal with the age old question of what it means to be alive and how to accept death but it never reached the potential I hoped it would. For what the author set out to do, there’s not a lot of depth to the characters or to the conversations that took place with the characters. It didn’t add anything to the question it posed and for me, it didn’t seem like anything worth keeping was added to the story. Not a lot happens in the story or even to the characters in a way that would have made this into an enjoyable read. Not much changed and not a lot of stakes were present either to raise the tension.
There’s the humour that I expected from the author though. The start of the book is pretty brilliant because he really knows how to write soulless corporate people. It was thoroughly enjoyable and definitely worth a laugh or two. I think the humour was well done throughout the book but humour alone couldn’t save the book from other disappointing areas.
I think the love story didn’t feel real to me, they were not quite getting along with each other and then suddenly, they were? And then, they were also in love? I never felt the feelings bloom or even had a hint of what might have gone behind the scenes. It wasn’t the most convincing of love stories and that made me sad too.
I am not saying this book was a complete disappointment because it simply wasn’t but it lacked logical sense and growth of character and that played a huge part in me not finding it as lovely as I could have. It has a charm to it that would definitely lure in people and keep them happy because the author is an expert in writing charming stories, I think. I just wish the characters and the pacing with which things happened made a bit more sense.