A NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, AND INDIE BESTSELLER
An Indie Next Pick!
A Man Called Ove meets The Good Place in Under the Whispering Door, a delightful queer love story from TJ Klune, author of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller The House in the Cerulean Sea.
Welcome to Charon's Crossing.
The tea is hot, the scones are fresh, and the dead are just passing through.
When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead.
And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead.
But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days.
Hilarious, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
A dead man reconsiders his life in this charming fantasy from Klune (The House in the Cerulean Sea). At 40, white bisexual Wallace Price is a ruthless lawyer with no empathy for those around him. When he dies suddenly, prickly reaper Mei arrives to escort his ghost to Charon's Crossing, a tea shop run by Hugo Freeman. Hugo, a Black gay 30-year-old, serves as a ferryman, guiding souls to whatever comes next. Hugo tells the angry, disbelieving Wallace that he can stay at Charon's Crossing until he's ready. But Wallace will never be ready, and after trying to run away and discovering that he'll become an inhuman Husk if he does, Wallace settles into life in the bustling cafe, learning to manipulate objects from Hugo's ghostly grandfather, Nelson, and slowly becoming a better person as attraction blooms between him and Hugo. But when Mei reaps Alan Flynn, the victim of a murder, his rageful spirit upends the cozy, found family dynamic at Charon's Crossing. The frightening Manager arrives to deal with Alan and gives Wallace just one more week on Earth, setting off a scramble to find a loophole. Tenderness, wit, and skillful worldbuilding elevate this delightful tale. Fans of queer fantasy won't want to miss this. \n
This is an uplifting and, at times, heartbreaking story
Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune
Wallace is told he has one week to cross over to the afterlife, so now he decides he must try living an entire lifetime in just seven days. He meets Hugo, the owner of a tea shop, Charon's Crossing, who promises to help him cross over. This is an uplifting and, at times, heartbreaking story about a life spent barely living at the office and a death spent building a home.
This is a standalone LGBTQIA+ paranormal fantasy novel. I have not any other novels by this author.
Check out Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune and be sure to get this standalone wherever you buy books!
TAGS: fiction, LGBTQIA, paranormal, fantasy, death, dying, grief, loss, afterlife, cancer, suicide, suicidal thoughts, childhood death, adolescent death, depression, mental health
MY RATING: 4/5 stars
MY RATING SYSTEM:
1 star = I don't recommend the book
2 stars = I would not read the book again
3 stars = I enjoyed the book
4 stars = I liked the book and would recommend to others
5 stars = Everyone should read the book; I would read the book again & again
*Thanks to NetGalley, Macmillan-Tor/Forge, & TJ Klune for providing a free eARC in exchange for my honest review #UndertheWhisperingDoor #NetGalley @NetGalley #Macmillan #MacmillanTorForge @ForgeReads #TJKlune @tjklune @tjklunebooks
Love Transcends Death
I hadn’t realized death could be infused with such great vibrancy until TJ Klune’s “Under the Whispering Door.” It faces bereavement with a wit, charm and whimsy which softens the harsh truths it examines.
As a psychologist of forty years, I was with many people in their last moments and with others who mourned. Only a few approached death like TJ Klune, running towards it with a gentle glee that lit their transition with hope, decreasing my own fears. For the rest, I wish I’d had this romance to offer them … Because it is a romance through and through.
Here’s the premise. In life, Wallace was an unkind lawyer who believed the ends justified the means. After sudden death, he’s taken by a reaper, Mei (a human who can physically interact with ghosts) to meet his ferryman, Hugo. A ferryman helps the newly dead come to terms with unfinished business and get ready to enter the door to their afterlife… a door that is on the top floor of Hugo and Mei’s tea house. They’re human, after all, and need to earn a living, so they own a real bakery, which grows its tea leaves on the grounds. Also present are two ghosts who haven’t transitioned, Hugo’s dog and grandfather, Nelson.
Wallace is so busy recapturing human decency that he feels more alive in death than he did before. But change is hard and slow. “Honesty was a weapon. It could be used to stab and tear and spill blood upon the earth. Wallace knew that; he had his fair share of blood on his hands because of it. But it was different, now. He was using it upon himself, and he was flayed open because of it, nerve ending exposed.”
Throughout this process, Wallace’s conversations with Mei, Hugo and Nelson examine the unfairness of living past those we love, or of facing our own ultimate unknown. “Time. We always think we have so much of it, but when it really counts, we don’t have enough at all.”
Yes, I depleted a travel size tissue box while enjoying “Under the Whispering Door,” but didn’t mind or feel uncomfortable. Because as snot dribbled, I was either pondering a really wise throwaway line (“A river only moves in one direction”) or hungry, as tea and delicacies were passed out. Often I was swooning at these men’s love. Though Hugo and Wallace are unable to touch, their affection transcends sensory intimacy.
What makes a novel on the dreaded topic of mortality so damned approachable? First is Mr. Klune’s vivid imagination – a tea shop to the other side, indeed! Then, he paints people with a nuanced delicacy. I recognized and loved (or love to hate) them. The plot builds until my whole world became irrelevant in my urgency to learn Wallace’s fate. And finally, Klune’s phrasing, his small details and observations, are as heady a brew as the tea Hugo serves, tea I could almost taste.
I full-heartedly endorse “Under the Whispering Door,” whose great care for, and respect of its audience, proves love continues on, rescuing the living, so that we may love again. Try it and you might just to lose a little fear of death, yourself.