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  • Writer's pictureTabitha Tomala

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune Book Review

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Book cover for Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune
Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

Under the Whispering Door Book Review

Wallace was a cranky man who only viewed the bottom line. Whether people made small mistakes or big mistakes, once they crossed that line they were out of his life. Up until the day he died. And as a ghost, he watched his own funeral, unsatisfied with the crowd and their reactions. When a reaper guides him to his next destination, a tea shop containing the door to his final resting place, Wallace is faced with the reality of his life. And bit by bit, the tea shop residents begin to chip away at Wallace’s tough exterior.

Wallace is set up to be an unlikable character. His actions and internal dialogue paint the picture of an ignorant man who wants things his way or not at all. And the side effect of people becoming emotional or detached is viewed through a lens of disconnection. Even after death Wallace digs his heels in and refuses to admit he was ever wrong. Until his daily interactions with Hugo, the reaper May and fellow ghosts break through to show him just how insufferable he was.

But Wallace holds himself back from forming connections, building walls between himself and others. It forced the character relationships to start and stop in their development and slowed the pacing as well. Each time there was a shred of hope for Wallace to improve his relationship, the lens of disconnection appeared and made the interactions less impactful. That’s not to say there isn’t any character development, it just takes a long time for Wallace to begin. And when he does start to evolve, the emotions behind his actions aren't strong enough to connect with the reader.

Under the Whispering Door does a good job of showing the beauty of living a fulfilling life. And while there aren’t many jokes woven into the tale, Apollo the ghost dog is sure to make a few readers laugh. His antics around anyone he doesn’t enjoy are hilarious as a normal person can’t see him, or feel when he decides they should be peed on.

While this story is slower-paced than other TJ Klune novels, it still has great underlying themes. I would recommend this to those who are looking for a lighter read about life after death, and quirky characters who try to do their best to help people cross over.

To Purchase: Bookshop | Author's Website

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