by TJ Klune
When one thinks of books falling under the “warm and fuzzy” category, it likely invokes cozy thoughts – images of animals, fireplaces, steaming cups of tea. Chances are, ghosts are not included. Somehow, though, stories exist that, though focused on the dead, still bring warmth to their readers. TJ Klune has masterfully woven such a tale in Under the Whispering Door.
When cantankerous workaholic Wallace Price dies suddenly of a premature heart attack, nobody is sad to see him go. Almost as quickly as his passing, newly formed Ghost-Wallace is whisked away by spunky reaper, Mei, to transition to the next stage of his spiritual being. The transition, though, is not quite simple – Wallace refuses to accept his untimely death, and until he does so he is unable to cross over. To pass the time until he is ready, Mei brings him to Charon’s Crossing, a tea shop-combined-ghost hotel run by Hugo, ferryman for the dead and tea master for the living (okay, and also the dead). As time goes on at Charon’s Crossing, Wallace begins to realize just how little of a life he had. But as his relationship with Hugo grows stronger, Wallace discovers that there may be another chance for him to build a life – even after death.
As we so often see with TJ Klune, this was a lovely, heartwarming story of love found in unexpected places, a blend of the fantastical while speaking to the very real emotional needs in each of us. I found myself rooting for Wallace as the story progressed, and cheering aloud (literally) when the story concluded with an unexpected and charming twist. I definitely recommend adding Under the Whispering Door to your list of next reads (preferably to the top).