Review: Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

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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.

Oh my gosh. I wasn’t sure if TJ Klune could steal my heart in the same way he did with The House in the Cerulean Sea, but he did (review here!). He did it again. The House in the Cerulean Sea is my favourite book of the year so far, and this one is very close behind. In this book, we follow Wallace Price, who is dead. He’s lead, by a reaper, to a small tea shop in a forest, a tea shop that people are lead to on their way to the afterlife.

The setting of the tea shop was absolutely beautiful and I just loved it. It felt like such a cozy setting and I didn’t mind the fact we didn’t really leave the tea shop at all throughout the story. I love how familiar it allowed us to get with the tea shop and the people who lived in it.

The first time you share tea, you are a stranger. The second time you share tea, you are an honored guest.

For obvious reasons, this book talks a lot about death. Of course this made it very sad and emotional in places, but I also felt like it was handled so well and with such gentleness and care. Talking of emotion, this book really brought out the tears. I cried intermittently throughout this book and I admire how TJ Klune can draw me into a characters story within a few paragraphs and make me emotional over their story.

The writing, again, was so beautiful and I absolutely loved it. It felt so encompassing and although I read it quite quickly, it felt slow in the best way. I didn’t want this to end but equally couldn’t put it down at the same time. It was meandering and lovely, warming and beautiful. I became so attached to these lovely characters and by the end of the book I was sobbing constantly. I cried pretty consistently for the last 40 pages and sobbed for the last 10. I must point out this isn’t because it’s sad necessarily, although it is sad in places. It’s more beautifully bittersweet and full of hope, which is just the kind of ending I love.

The third time you share tea, you become family.

This book felt like a warm hug, being wrapped in a blanket, or that feeling of sipping hot tea and it warming your body on a cold winters day. It’s definitely a new favourite yet again!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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