I don’t normally read Sci-fi, but for TJ Klune, I make an exception. – he is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.
When we first meet Wallace Price, he is a despicable man. He lives for his job and doesn’t care about the people he employs at all. Think modern-day Scrooge!
He didn’t even know she had children. He wasn’t one to delve into the personal lives of his employees. Children were a distraction, one he’d never warmed to.‘Under the Whispering Door’, chapter 1
Our endurance of this character is, however, a fleeting one, as Wallace Price has a fatal heart attack early on in the novel. Good riddance! But no, that’s not the end for Wallace Price, for this is not a tale of Wallace’s life, but of his death – or rather what happens when he is dead.
In death, Wallace meets his antithesis – Hugo – a patient, empathetic ‘ferryman’, and Mei, who is a ‘reaper’. And it’s TJ Klune, so of course the ferryman runs a tea shop!
Just like in ‘The House in the Cerulean Sea’ (which continues to receive rave reviews from everyone, including me), there is a real mix of humour and empathy in the style of this novel. There are some pretty hard-hitting messages in this novel about the way in which we use of lives, and how we treat those around us, but then this is interlaced with heart-warming relationships, a mad clairvoyant and the ghost of dog, so it’s all rather palatable.
As a teacher of English at a high school, I know how difficult it is to find good-quality literature featuring same-sex relationships that doesn’t make the fact that the characters aren’t heterosexual the main plot point. I love TJ Klune for this, and I’m looking forward to introducing his work to my pupils.
This is a modern-day fairy tale which tells of redemption, love and friendship. It will leave you wanting to hug those who you love then make them a pot of tea.
Life is senseless, and on the off chance we find something that does make sense, we hold on to it as tightly as we can…‘Under the Whispering Door’, chapter 22
‘Under the Whispering Door’ is due to be published on 21st September 2021. Thank you NetGalley UK and Tor Books for an ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review.