Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

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. (taken from Amazon)

Author T.J. Klune does it again! Under the Whispering Door is insightful, sad, hopeful, and exhibits a faith in humanity that is rarely seen in books now.

The book follows the recently deceased Wallace, a take-no-crap lawyer who wasn’t the nicest person in the world when he was breathing. I think his jerkish demeanor is one of the reasons that it took me longer to become invested in this book than in Klune’s last book. While Wallace’s snotty attitude is integral to the plot of the book, it held me at arm’s length for a little bit.

Wallace is used to getting his way and being the intimidating one. Imagine his outrage when he discovers that, not only is he dead, but he has ended up at Charon’s Crossing, a tea shop/waystation pre-going where one goes when they croak. He is no longer intimidating anyone. In fact, he slowly begins to learn that there is more to living than being rich or feared.

What ended up drawing me in was the wonderfully zany cast of characters that run Charon’s Crossing. There’s Mei, a reaper unlike any other. When she’s not leading the recently deceased into Charon’s Crossing, she’s making baked goods and rocking out to loud music. Mei is feisty with hidden depths.

There’s Nelson, a ghost who sticks around because his son happens to run Charon’s Crossing. He is quite possibly my favorite character. He quietly makes Wallace question who he was and who he can be. He sees more than he lets on, and he adds so much to the storyline. He’s also hilarious.

Then there’s Hugo. Oh, Hugo. Hugo is the only fully living member of the group (Mei is technically alive but with extra perks) and he runs Charon’s Crossing. He is so understanding and his compassion knows no bounds. Hugo is what led to my favorite parts of the book. See, I’m a sucker for a good conversation. I’m not a “small talk” sort of person. The conversations between Hugo and Wallace in Under the Whispering Door were poignant, enlightening, and really quite beautiful. This was one of those books that can make a person feel seen. This is when I started to like Wallace. From being a rather stereotypical a-hole, Wallace becomes sensitive, caring, introspective- in short, he evolves. He learns that there is beauty in everything, even in loss.

In the acknowledgements the author says that he wrote this while he was grieving his own loss. Grief, regret, love, hope- these are all universal and they are all honestly and simply explored here. Under the Whispering Door has become one of my favorite books of the year.

It’s beautiful.

9 thoughts on “Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

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