Under the Whispering Door by T. J. Klune is a novel about life but takes place in afterlife/inbetween. The description that got me to pay attention was A Man Called Ove in the afterlife. After having read it A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is really good comparison, but I feel it also reminded me of the Albert Brooks film Defending Your Life as well. This book is whimsical and a provides a really interesting view on the afterlife. The characters are memorable and the writing makes you truly care for the majority of them. I loved the beginning chapter so much and what it does for characterization, the reader comes away knowing exactly who Wallace is. The pace has a few bumps in the road I liked the beginning but the middle got almost too philosophical and took away from the story a little bit, when the countdown got introduced the story got instantly better. The ending was a nice wrap up and will make you feel for the characters at the end. The romance angle worked for the most part, as you saw the love between Hugo and Wallace start to grow. The is very LGTBQ friendly as the two leads are gay. This is my second T.J. Klune novel after I was blown away by The House in the Cerulean Sea, Under the Whisper Door is not as good but those are enormous shoes to fill.
The Plot Summary: Wallace is a lawyer and it is his whole life. He has no family, no friends and no life. Actually he died and has no life, a reaper finds him at his funeral, with only 4 in attendance his ex-wife and 3 law firm partners. Wallance does want to be dead he wants to be at work. The reaper brings him to a place he doesn’t expect, a tea shop. Where the reaper, Mei, works with the ferryman, Hugo, who’s job is to get the ghost to go through the door to the other side. There are other ghost there as well Hugo’s grandfather and his pet dog. They are there to help Wallace accept he is dead and go through the door, but Wallace finds a life, love, and finally a reason to not leave this world.
What I Liked: A really cool look at the afterlife. It would be cool if there was an acceptance period after death to get you acclimated to passing on. The characters Klune writes take on a life of their own and they become like your friends this is the second novel that he has done this to me. The relationships that are formed was great, romantic and friendship. I liked the side story about Nancy and how that worked out. I liked the end result of the Husk. The opening was one of the best. I loved the bits of humor through out especially from the grandfather.
What I Disliked: I did not like the look of the manager, I liked what the character represented but did not like the look. I did not like that sex was brought in at the end, Hugo and Wallace had this beautiful relationship and then sex is thrown in at the very end, first with the manager making graphic gestures of gay sex then the innuendos from Wallace. I felt it ruined their sweet subtle romance that was about hugs until they can touch then it was all about sex, it was too fast. The middle was just a bit too slow.
Recommendation: Read this book, it is easy to become attached to the characters, it provides such a unique look after death you will hope it is real. I had some fun with this book. I rate Under the Whispering Door by T. J. Klune 4 out of 5 stars. For the two books I’ve read of KLUNE he has a combined rating of 4.5. I will read another Klune when I get a chance.