Posted in Book Reviews, Book Series, contemporary romance, fiction, Mythology, Retelling, romance

Book Review: Under the Whispering Door by T. J. Klune

Hiya fellow book lovers! Today’s book had me so emotional! This is my first book by T. J. Klune and certainly not my last. I have seen The Cerulean Sea on bookstagram for quite some time and if it is half as good as Under the Whispering Door than TJ Klune has won a fan for life.

Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home. It is a retelling of Greek Mythology classic Charon with surprisingly entertaining twists and turns.


Welcome to Charon’s Crossing.
The tea is hot, the scones are fresh, and the dead are just passing through.

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead.

But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

Under The Whispering Door TJ Klune Book Review
Under The Whispering Door TJ Klune

Title: Under the Whispering Door
Author: T. J. Klune
Publication Date: 1st September 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Arc

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

My Review

Under the Whispering Door is a poignant, thought-provokingly brilliant interpretation of the afterlife that is guaranteed to thaw even the most frigid of hearts. 

Perhaps what I enjoyed most about this novel was T. J. Klune’s interpretation of a modern-day Charon. Fans of Greek Mythology have come to associate Charon with the river Styx however in this retelling, Charon’s Crossing is depicted as a tea house that is home to a benevolent trickster of a grandfather, a benign reaper, and a pet specter. The icing on the proverbial cake was the ingenious rendition of Charon, as Hugo Freeman, a gay person of color. 

I relished that the author doesn’t delve into the metaphysics of death but instead centers around understanding death and its inevitability. One of the most profound moments for me was when the main character realizes that his time is up and he laments all the things he wished he did. It’s a reminder to grab life by the horns and live it to the fullest. 

“If we worry about the little things all the time, we run the risk of missing the bigger things.” 

This novel puts forth the philosophical viewpoint that death is not the end but merely a new beginning. The author did not try to exert religious ideals but instead focused on spirituality and having faith in the unknown. 

The main character, Wallace Price, was a modern-day Scrooge, married to his job and oblivious to everyone else but himself. Watching Wallace’s redemption, and his ability to find humanity in death sends a deep message of it never really being too late to change, to be a better person.

T.J. Klune is truly a gifted storyteller! His ability to talk about one thing, while meaning something else is sublime. Any writer that can describe the ritual of tea drinking while imparting valuable life lessons is nothing short of spectacular. 

“The first time you share tea, you are a stranger. The second time you share tea, you are an honored guest. The third time, you share tea, you become family.” 

#MoraloftheStory- “Make the most of the time you’re given.” 

Thank you to the author, Tor Books and NetGalley for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review. 


TJ KLUNE is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author (Into This River I Drown) and an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company. His novels include the Green Creek series, The House on the Cerulean Sea and The Exraordinaries. Being queer himself, TJ believes it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.

Thanks so much for joining me today for my review. Until next time I wish you Good Reading!


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