Book Review: Under the Whispering Door

Hello readers!

How is the beginning of your summer season going?

Mine’ could be better. I am currently self-quarantining due to being exposed to COVID.  I’m not experiencing any symptoms and I tested negative just now, but I’m not quite out of the gate yet since incubation can vary.

Despite the icky COVID update, it’s time for another book review!

This time I read Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune.

This author has been on my radar ever since I read The House in the Cerulean Sea (my review here) and loved it. This was also a buddy read with Misty from Misty’s Book Space, because you know I love my buddy reads! This post is my individual review, which will soon be followed by a buddy read and rant post with Misty.

So, how was this book? Keep on reading to find out!



A Man Called Ove meets The Good Place in Under the Whispering Door, a delightful queer love story from TJ Klune, author of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller The House in the Cerulean Sea.

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.

And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely 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.

Hilarious, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home.



***Brief disclosure***

I am an Amazon affiliate and earn a tiny commission for purchases made through the Amazon links in this post at no cost to you. It’s a great way to help me keep things running on my blog if you’re already intrigued enough to make a purchase. 


The Review

DNF @ 48%

Having loved The House in the Cerulean Sea, I’m shocked at how little I liked this book. I stopped just under the halfway mark because to be honest, I felt I was wasting my time on this read.

This novel is centered on a man named Wallace who has recently died. He awakens at his own funeral where a strange girl he’s never seen before arrives. With her help, he relocates to a strange place where he can come to grips with his unfulfilled life and sudden death.

Before I go into the negatives, there were some things I did like. Wallace as a character was intriguing to me at first. In life he was a no-nonsense ball buster with zero tolerance for weakness. He had this Ebenezer Scrooge feel to him that I could understand. He’s also an attorney, and I’ve worked for legal firms before, so I’ve met his type. In general I appreciated the journey he’s supposed to be going through as he accepts his death and finds new insight and purpose.

I also liked the premise of this story. It held so much promise.

Unfortunately, this read ended up being a bore for me. Things start off intriguing enough, but it just drones on after a while and didn’t pick back up fast enough to keep my interest.

Things are very slow-paced. Wallace lingers around this house for most of the book and not doing much else. Very minor events happen, followed by tons of dialogue with the characters, typically proceeded by a sob story and some moral outrage on Wallace’s end. Rinse and repeat. There was a pattern to the pacing of this book, and to me it felt forced and uninspired.

Mei (the girl who takes him to this house – a reaper) and Hugo (a ferryman) are both resistant to talk to Wallace about certain things in their lives, but end up telling him in long-winded stories, which brings up another issue. There’s way too much telling and not enough showing. I think that if the stories Mei and Hugo told Wallace could’ve been experienced by Wallace firsthand somehow it would’ve made things much better. Instead, we just get told what happened in the past over and over again.

I don’t mind character-based stories but there has to be a balance, and this just felt a bit sloppy to me overall. If you don’t mind a slower-paced, character-based story, you may like this. Otherwise, I can’t recommend giving it a try.


That’s A Wrap!

Well that’s it for this book review. I hope you enjoyed it!

Have you read this book? Are there other similar books you’ve read that you simply have to gush about? Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to start a conversation!

Have a great day!


Join My ARC Review Team | Subscribe

 Facebook | GoodReads | Bookbub | Tumblr | Instagram



    • Yeah, thanks for the positive vibes! I haven’t been feeling the last couple of reads as much as I hoped, but a new one by Tammie Painter is up next, so I’m really excited. I always enjoy her novels. 🙂

  1. Oh man, I’ve been eager to see your thoughts on this book ever since I saw you were reading it. I didn’t make it as far as you did. I even tried the book three times, thinking, “but Cerulean Sea was soooooo good…am I missing something?” Glad to see I’m not the only one this didn’t mesh with.

    • Ahhh, I’m not crazy! Thank goodness. I think I was forcing the read since the 20% mark or so, but there just wasn’t enough actually happening. You are so determined to have tried it three times! The bookish gods are no doubt honored by your patience!

      • I had to keep trying because I felt I was missing something, but yeah, I think I made it to about 20% before ditching it. The first time might have only been 10%. He has a new one coming out, but I’m afraid to try it…

      • I felt the same way too. Here and there I would stop myself, then go back a page or so and it didn’t do any good. It’s not us! Oh lordy. I think I’ll wait and see if any of the bad reviews make similar points like on this one. I want to believe in Klune though!

    • I actually didn’t pay much attention to the blurb, but I think you’re right. I’m hoping Klune’s next book will be better. Fingers crossed!

Leave a Reply