Under the Whispering Door was so original, refreshing, touching, heartfelt, and uplifting contemporary and paranormal LGBTQ romance. I buddy read this with Toni and we both loved this book.
Under the Whispering Door by T. J. Klune
Expected publication Date : September 21st 2021
Publisher : Tor Books
Genre : Contemporary / Romance / LGBTQ / Paranormal
Pages : 400
Disclaimer – I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Many thanks to publisher and NetGalley.
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.
Under the Whispering Door is a contemporary fantasy about a ghost who refuses to cross over and the ferryman he falls in love with.
Under the Whispering Door was beautiful paranormal LGBTQ romance that revolved around Wallace Price, a ghost, and his time at Tea shop (a way station after death) with ferryman that brought tremendous change in him. The story was about friendship, love, grief, loss, family, tea, and mostly death.
Writing was vivid, atmospheric, gripping and fast paced with third person narrative from Wallace’s perspective. The setting of Tea Shop and it being a way station as well for ghosts made story even more beautiful and atmospheric.
Plot looked simple but there was so much more to the story and it was highly unpredictable. I couldn’t say where the story was going and honestly there was beauty in going along with the story. That manager showing himself and giving ultimatum happened almost around climax but until that part it was all about character introduction, their back story, how Hugo and Mei got their job as ferryman and reaper, other characters and their story, and most importantly Wallace’s development. It was amazing to read Wallace’s time at Tea shop, everything he learned after his death, what he will do in those last seven days, and if he will cross the door or not.
Characters were fantastic. They were all realistic and relatable. I came to love all the characters by the end of the book, of course there were few exceptions but even the manager surprised me.
Wallace was 40 yrs old lawyer. He was selfish, obnoxious, ruthless shark. He definitely was not likable. At first I felt sad when no one showed up at his funeral. No matter how much he deserved it, I wouldn’t want that even for my enemy but for first 25% of the book he was very much petulant, insolent and ungrateful person. I swear a teenager would have made better ghost. Making all the chaos in tea shop, waking Mei up in middle of night, booing around the house… Damn that was hilarious but yes very childish. If someone would have told me you would love this guy by the end I would have hard time to believe that.
But once he started listening Hugo, grandad (Nelson) and Mei, his development was tremendous and gradual. He slowly understood himself and what life he lived, accepted what he did in life was wrong and made so many mistakes, experienced the fear and felt bad for using other people’s fear against them when he was alive. Step by step he came around, we see totally opposite side of him that came out during his time at tea shop and it was amazing he learned to make friends. This ruthless shark became humane. He managed to surprise me often and with each of those surprises I loved him more and more. His character was so very much human, all flawed and realistic and susceptible to change.
Hugo was lovely from the beginning. He was wise, honest, experienced ferryman, like Nelson said empathetic to a fault, and developed character. His love for tea was infectious throughout the book. I had no idea how he became ferryman and I had a theory but I was so wrong about it. I loved his story of becoming ferryman and why he chose to be one. It was sad and I really admired him for dealing with death day to day even after the loss. It was amazing that he missed outside world and still love his job knowing he wouldn’t be able to see places. I liked the way author showed his vulnerability. His guilt and regrets, panic attacks was touching to read, and loved the way he found Wallace to share it all.
Mei, Nelson – Hugo’s Grandad (ghost) and Apollo, Hugo’s dog (also ghost) made this story light and entertaining. They would make hell of a troublemaker team.
Mei was fiery, lively, fun, kind and was best reaper. There was her story too and after reading that I admired her more. I agreed with Hugo when he spoke about her with Wallace. She understood her work and no matter how fiery she was and she wasn’t reckless or acting without a thought. It was easy to love her and now I’m fan of her hugs.
Nelson was best grandad one can expect. His love for Hugo was enough to make me love him but I also loved him for his pranks and all the trouble he created for Hugo that made me laugh more than once. I want Apollo for myself. This lick loving, protective and lovely dog made me smile often. If I want ghost around me, I would choose him.
There were many other secondary characters in the story and enjoyed reading them all. Some had sad and touching story while some were pure entertainment and other were mysterious and interesting.
Romance was slow burn, a love that can’t be possible or happen and yet it was lovely. We don’t see anything happening between them until second half but I loved the way they became friends and how their feelings grew over the time. I enjoyed all moments between Hugo and Wallace.
Conversations between characters was flawless. And there were so many hilarious moments- my favourite was what they did to Desdemona and Wallace trying to change his clothes.
What I loved most was how author handled the theme of death. I’m sure it’s not easy to read for everyone specially someone who might have lost someone close and still this never felt heavy. In fact, it was insightful. I’m sure many can find this both touching and enlightening at the same time. There was so much positivity around this topic. The concept of a person who lived dead life even before death and learned to live after death shows that itself. I liked what Hugo said about Kubler-Ross model – five stages of grief that can be applied for both living and dead and both living and dead process it different way. It made so much sense here. I absolutely loved last seven days of Wallace which was after climax. Oh and tea! I haven’t read a book that describes so many varieties of Tea and honestly as someone who loves tea I wasn’t aware of many mentioned here.
Climax made things so much interesting. I was expecting the Manager to show up at some point now and when he did he rocked the world of characters. I didn’t know what Wallace would do with the ultimatum and how would he spend his days. If any one didn’t like Wallace by now, I bet you cannot not like him after what he did. It was amazing filled with so many heartful moments that made me shed happy tears. I loved how they dealt with end of the ultimatum. End was perfect, so hopeful and uplifting.
Overall, Under the Whispering Door was so original, refreshing, touching, heartfelt, and uplifting contemporary and paranormal M/M romance.
I highly recommend this if you like,
concept of afterlife
heavy sounding theme with positive representation
tremendous but gradual character development
Much more than just romance
clean adult M/M romance
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What do you think about this book and review? Have you read this or any book by the author? Which is your favourite book with heavy theme but is uplifting at the end?
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