Book Review: Under the Whispering Door

I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader copy (ARC) of TJ Klune’s book Under the Whispering Door from NetGalley, so thank you to them! I finished this book in early July, but in typical me fashion, I haven’t gotten around to reviewing it until now. This book will be released on September 21st, so be sure to preorder it.

Death is only their beginning.

TJ Klune

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first TJ Klune book I ever read was The House in the Cerulean Sea. And wow, that book got me right in the feels! In Under the Whispering Door, Klune once again trots out some of my favorite tropes ever, including found family, “reluctantly stuck together”, older gays in love, cozy cottage-core, and a curmudgeonly character whose heart grows three sizes.

The story follows Wallace Price, a capitalist, work-obsessed malcontent who wouldn’t recognize empathy if he read the dictionary definition. When Wallace dies in his early forties of a sudden heart-attack, he doesn’t leave much of a legacy behind. In fact, most who knew him – namely his ex-wife and the co-partners at his firm – seem to be relieved that he’s gone.

But there’s life after life for Wallace, whose spirit is summarily snatched up at his own funeral by a sarcastic Reaper named Mei. Mei takes Wallace to Charon’s Crossing Tea and Treats, where he meets the kind-hearted ferryman, Hugo, his spry grandfather Nelson, and his ghost dog, Apollo. At first, like any other entitled rich, white man, all Wallace wants to do is return to the grind. The world needs attorneys, after all.

But as Wallace hangs around Charon’s Crossing and its delightful coterie of characters, he begins to see that his life was not much of a life. He has to come to terms with the years he wasted and the people he hurt. And even…open his heart for the first time ever. We love a good character growth arc and redemption in this house! Wallace grows to care about people other than himself and even falls in love with the kind and gentle Hugo. He also finds a role guiding other spirits deemed “too far gone” to cross over into the afterlife.

What I love most about TJ Klune’s books is the enduring message that it’s never too late. A lot of romance books focus on young, sexy characters, that you start to see yourself in less and less as you grow older. In Klune’s world, you’re never too old to find yourself, to grow, and to find love. Even closed-off people, whose hearts are guarded by cynicism, fear, or prior trauma, can reopen themselves to what the world has to offer. And I think that’s such a beautiful and important message to so many.

All in all, this is a five-star read for me. Even though Klune’s books are often marketed towards the Young Adult market, I think there’s so much for adults to find in them.


Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune will be out in bookstores and online on September 21, 2021.


Have you read this? Do you plan on reading this? Have you read anything else by TJ Klune? As always, leave me a comment and…

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Until next time,

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: Under the Whispering Door

  1. Definitely hoping to get Under the Whispering Door read – still not read The House in the Cerulean Sea though which I’ve been wanting to read since it came out.

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  2. This sounds like such a magical story and I haven’t read this author’s books yet, but I appreciate there’s lots of meaningful messages in this type of fantasy book. I love how you went into detail about the characters too, they sound very well developed. Wonderful review Leigh! 💖

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