Book Review: Under The Whispering Door by TJ Klune
Gosh, this book hits pretty hard right now. At the (hopefully) tail end of a worldwide pandemic, when so many of us are grieving one or more people we’ve loved who are gone before their time, a book about what comes after we die, about the nature of grief and acceptance… it hits pretty hard. If you’re anything like me you’ll find yourself tearing up more than once while you read, whether it’s while reading about the therapy dog who wasn’t going to leave his master behind or the grandfather who refused to move on while his grandson still needed him.
There’s a remarkable love story at the heart of this book, as well as a story of redemption for Wallace, who doesn’t realize until after his death what an absolute jerk of a human he was in life. Collected from his own funeral by delightfully sarcastic (and occasionally wannabe homicidal) Reaper Mei, he’s taken to Charon’s Crossing Tea House where he meets Hugo, the ferryman whose job it is to help Wallace cross through the door to the afterlife. The more time he spends with Hugo, though, the more Wallace realizes he doesn’t want to cross over anywhere. And while originally he wanted to go back to his old life, now he wants nothing more than to stay with Hugo and his family, found and otherwise. But the all-powerful Manager has the final say, and he says there’s no place for the dead in the land of the living.
If you have grief you’ve yet to process, you might find this helpful even while it’s heart-wrenching. It’s more than a little heavy at times, being literally a story about death, but I found it extraordinarily beautiful and I put the book down with a smile on my face, happy with the ending and how things turned out. Five stars for a beautiful, tragic story which I’ll certainly be revisiting in the years to come.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.