ARC Review: Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

About the Book:

Title: Under the Whispering Door

Author: T.J. Klune

Page Length: 384

Publication Date: Sept. 21, 2021

Publisher: Tor Books

Synopsis: Under the Whispering Door is a contemporary fantasy with TJ Klune’s signature “quirk and charm” (PW) about a ghost who refuses to cross over and the ferryman he falls in love with

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.

By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this absorbing tale of grief and hope is told with TJ Klune’s signature warmth, humor, and extraordinary empathy.

LINKS:     Goodreads    |      Amazon    |

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My Review:

There is so much to love about TJ Klune’s Under the Whispering Door that I almost don’t know where to begin. I feel like I’ll never be able to put into words how much this book touched me. The story is exceptional, as are the characters, themes, and messages. It’s a story that leaves a lasting impression and made me a fan of the author for life. It’s profound and touching, emotional and moving. At times, it’s laugh-out-loud funny, and other times it’s unbelievably sad – in short, it is an outstanding read that made me feel all the feels.

Filled with loss and love, grief and happiness, and so much more, this book left me in a puddle of tears but also completely content and happy. I love books that evoke such strong and varied emotions. Months ago, one of my book blogging friends talked about the power of Klune’s writing, and I must wholeheartedly agree with her.

Wallace is not a very good person. He is selfish and so focused on his career that he thinks of nothing else. Upon his death, Wallace’s spirit is taken to a remote tea shop which serves as a resting place before a person moves on. His character is so unlikeable at the start of the story, and the way he acts and treats people is unappealing. At the tea shop, Wallace meets Hugo, the ferryman who will guide him, and an eclectic cast of characters who help Wallace find his way. However, Wallace isn’t ready to move on, and as he stays at the teahouse must face his past, his reality, and what lies ahead.

Death isn’t a final ending, Wallace. It’s an ending, sure, but only to prepare you for a new beginning.

Wallace grows and changes so much throughout the story. In death, he learns what is most important in life, and it is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Other characters in the story are equally interesting, and I found myself as invested in their stories as I was in Wallace’s. Every single character, good, bad, and in-between, is compelling and stole my heart. And I love how all of their stories and experiences contribute to Wallace’s growth and understanding of the important things in life.

The found family is one of my favorite parts of this story. I love each character in Wallace’s new life and how each contributes to their family unit. They have distinct personalities and skills, and each helps Wallace in their own way learn what is most important in life and beyond. Hugo is so kind, supportive, hopeful, and understanding, and I love his quiet strength. His dog Apollo is so sweet and funny, and Hugo’s grandfather is hysterical. I love all of his silly antics and his loving way of taking people under his wing. Mei, Wallace’s reaper, is quirky, affectionate, and so funny. Even Wallace found his way into my heart, especially once he found his. Individually, these characters are well-layered, interesting, and unique. Together, they are an exceptional unit with a strong and unwavering connection.

What will you do with the time you have left?

The story examines how people cope with death, how people grieve and heal, and how people prepare for the unknown. Death is unavoidable, but everyone deals with it differently, which this book highlights perfectly. The story also explores so many deep and universal questions that I think all readers can relate to. What is our purpose? Why are we here? What comes after death? What does it mean to be a good person? Simple yet profound concepts that many people face at one point or another in their lives become thought-provoking plot points throughout the book. I love how Klune weaves these tough topics into the story with skill and honesty, creating a well-rounded, deftly layered, and unique narrative.

I adored Under the Whispering Door! It’s is everything I never knew I always needed, beautifully written, poignant, and more than I ever expected. A powerful contemporary fantasy, intricate and nuanced, it made me laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time, and it has so many wonderful layers. It’s a novel about love, loss, finding oneself, and faith. Thank you so much to NetGalley, Tor Books, and TJ Klune for an advanced copy of this brilliant book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

EVERYTHING! I loved everything about this story!

Favorite Lines:

If we worry about the little things all the time, we run the risk of missing the bigger things.

I know faith is hard, especially in the face of the unknown. But I have faith in you.

What will you do with the time you have left?

It’s never enough, is it? Time. We always think we have so much of it, but when it really counts, we don’t have enough at all.

Hindsight is a powerful thing, Wallace. We don’t always see what’s right in front of us, much less to appreciate it. It’s not until we look back that we find what we should have known all along.


The novel deals with some heavy topics including death, grief, anxiety, depression, suicide, and more, which could be triggers for some readers.

18 thoughts on “ARC Review: Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

  1. Aah, fab review! I’m so glad you loved this one, too 😍 Klune has such a knack for writing stories that hit all those feels and that usually leave me a blubbering mess, haha! The found family vibes are definitely *chefs kiss* and reading this review makes me miss the characters again!

    1. Thanks! I loved everything about it. And I was a blubbering mess too! lol But in a good way, if that makes any sense? Now I need to read The House in the Cerulean Sea. πŸ™‚

  2. Wonderful review! I’m so excited for my copy to arrive. I lost my Grandma to COVID last year, so a book about grief and love sounds like it’s going to be so cathartic. So glad to see you loved this one!

  3. Excellent review Julie. So much more eloquent than mine. I didn’t know what to say without giving to much away. I loved this one as well.

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