TJ Klune has been publishing for a while, but he only really showed up on my radar with The House in the Cerulean Sea (one of our Subjective Kind of Chaos nominees!). And while I loved that one, I’d say that he levelled up with Under the Whispering Door. It takes the cosy atmosphere of Cerulean Sea, and adds further depth to it by discussing death and the afterlive(s). I should say at this point, Under the Whispering Door comes with a massive trigger warning of death, self-harm and suicide. If those are topics that cause you discomfort or might trigger distress, please avoid reading.
Massive thanks to Tor and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC, all opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 21/09/2021
STAR RATING: 4.5/5 ✶
SUMMARY: 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. (from Tor)
OPINIONS: If the trigger warnings I mentioned above don’t put you off this, please, please pick this up. It is amazing and beautiful and it talks about tea so much – and tea is the second best thing when you need to feel better (the best thing being a good book). Hugo is the most adorable cinnamon roll character and I love him to bits. Its not his story, first and foremost, but he is what made me fall for it. Because Wallace is a DICK. A huge self-centred dumbass. And that is his main story arc. Coming to terms with who he is and growing into someone bigger and better than himself. He’s the kind of person who fires an employee because they made a tiny mistake after twenty years at the company with no second thought.
But all that changes after Wallace dies and meets Hugo. Accompanied by a charming cast of side characters, he undergoes a massive character development arc in a sort of halfway-house between life and death, where Hugo acts as a ferryman. Under the Whispering Door brings back all the charm that made people fall for The House in the Cerulean Sea, except that it’s deeper, expanding the comfy vibes to philosophising about life and death and how to make the most of the time we have with the people we love.
This is a delightful book, with fantastic quirky characters, a cute queer romance and feelgood vibes, while still addressing deeper themes and trauma. I highly recommend it. Add Under the Whispering Door to your Goodreads here, and pre-order a copy via Portal Bookshop here.