Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

Under the Whispering Door offers a heartwarming meditation on life, death, and the multitudes of love one experiences in a lifetime. 

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

Under the Whispering Door is the latest novel by TJ Klune, the bestselling, award-winning author of The House in the Cerulean Sea. The novel follows Wallace, a successful and dedicated lawyer and a rather unpleasant human being. When Wallace wakes up to find himself at his own sparsely attended funeral, with a reaper by his side waiting to collect him, he is furious. But when his reaper Mei brings him to Charon’s Crossing, a tea shop/ way-point to the afterlife, Wallace comes to accept that he is, in fact, dead. Yet, even in death, Wallace refuses to give up his life and work. However, with the help of Hugo, the tea shop’s owner and a ferryman responsible for guiding the dead on the last leg of their journey, Wallace comes to realise that his life was missing something after all. So, when he is given a deadline to pass over to the afterlife in a week, Wallace sets about turning his life around in the space of seven days. 

Klune does an excellent job in his latest novel tackling such heavy topics as death, loss, and grief whilst simultaneously providing a thoughtful commentary on love. In this sense, Under the Whispering Door offers so much more than just entertainment value. Klune’s offering to us here is a life lesson — a life well lived is not one spent working but one surrounded by people you love. Prioritising work his whole life, Wallace failed to make valuable connections with anyone around him until coming to Charon’s Crossing. In this way, Under the Whispering Door is as much a book about death as it is about life. Klune has a profound ability to inject humour into the most dire situations, relieving his readers of the heaviness of the subject matter here. Whilst the story is undeniably sad, the witty dialogue and bantering between Wallace and Hugo’s father, Nelson, will have you laughing out loud at times. 

Under the Whispering Door is filled with fantastic and memorable characters. Wallace, detestable at first, soon becomes a character you cannot help but fall in love with. Seeing him go on his journey of redemption and development was great. From being a man with no friends and no life outside of work, he soon becomes a man who values people above all else. It was wonderful to see the growing affection between the characters at Charon’s Crossing and the way in which they develop into a kind of strange yet loving dysfunctional family. Through this, Klune reinforces his teaching that it is not our work-related achievements that make our life a great one, but the relationships we build and the people who will remember us once we are gone. 

An original, moving and unforgettable novel, Under the Whispering Door is a masterpiece. 

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