A ghost refusing to cross over to the other side and actually, falling in love with the ferryman who promises to take him there? Yes, intriguing and indulging, Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune is a tale like no other, making itself felt across the moors of one’s soul, settling its many thoughts -imparting across the length and breadth of our existence. A brilliant look at life through an unusual kaleidoscope, this is a book to “take you back to life.”
Ever given a thought to what it feels like to be dying? No? Ok, let’s try this-what do you think what happens after death? Does one walk through a white, hazy tunnel onward to the next adventure? Or is there something along the way, planned and planted surreptitiously by the higher power, waiting for us at the juncture, trying to give us life’s true essences, extricated and waiting for us there?
Wondering what it is that is making me go gaga over life and its many idiosyncrasies? So, I felt like sharing some of my reflections on T.J. Klune’s wonderful book “Under the Whispering Door,” which, while adorned with the usual humour flavour that happens to be Klune’s signature, is nonetheless a piece of life, literally “afterlife.” Klune has given us much more than a simple acceptance of faith by delving into how one can actually come to terms with life and death.
“Under the Whispering Door” is a heartwarming novel that explores themes of grief, love, and second chances. The story follows the character of Wallace Price, a workaholic who dies unexpectedly. Thus, when he simply drops dead one fine day, he is more than shocked; he is furious, thinking that of all the things, this is something that can’t possibly be happening to him, and finds himself stuck between the worlds of the living and the dead.
As he navigates his new afterlife, Wallace meets a mysterious ferryman named Hugo, who takes him to a quaint tea shop called “Tea Cozy.” There, he meets a group of eccentric characters, including a ghostly couple, a tea shop owner, and a cranky reaper, who help him come to terms with his own death, learn to let go of his past regrets, and reluctantly come to terms with his truth. There is this major issue of him not being able to actually abandon his life. Yes, he has spent his life simply working, lecturing employees, and doing so without any kind of fun or friends. Thus, when given the time period of 7 days to “pass through the door” to the other side, here is Wallace, who is all set to live a lifetime’s worth in 7 days.
A whimsical story that kind of gave me “The Midnight Library” vibes nevertheless has a love story that is similar to no other I have seen before. Yes, the love blossoming between the “ghost” of Wallace and his “ferryman,” Hugo, is something that is relatable and yet uncannily unique. Well, who does fall in love with the “afterlife”? And that too, with the “being” who is actually helping them identify their miscalling and previous erring? Kind of unheard of, if you ask me, and yet warm and heart-touching in a totally different kind of way. It felt like a warm kaleidoscope of so many different hues, each celebrating life while acknowledging it in a “post-humous” scenario. It made me want to go back to life and its frivolous wanderings, exploring it at arm’s length and yet being able to dive into it deeper and deeper and come back drenched in a new shade of comprehension each time I came up from this tidal wave pool of emotions. Yes, there was a lot spoken between the words—too much to take in, in between the lines—and that, I think, is Klune’s sheer victory by way of a writer—to be able to get into the mind of the reader and understand what exactly he or she wants. I do agree the comic instances might come across as repetitive slapstick at a few junctures; however, no worries, as that is what life is all about, ain’t it?
Death and the afterlife are heavy topics, but Klune handles them with sensitivity and grace, never resorting to cheap sentimentality or easy answers. Instead, he delves into the complicated emotions that accompany loss and the difficult process of moving on.
The magical realism that pervades every page of “Under the Whispering Door” is one of its most notable aspects. The world of the afterlife is vividly imagined and full of surprises, from talking animals to a mystical tea shop. Despite the fantastical elements, the story maintains emotional resonance and a sense of groundedness.
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This is a superb book, and I want to take a second today to strongly recommend it. Not only because it is a great narrative, a brilliant story, and a well-constructed plot-there is this queer and quiet feel to it—a secret you ought to discover before you know it, a bridge you ought to cross before you reach it. There was so much that I could feel in the sinews of this tale, like a subtle voice, gently yet determinedly nudging me to drink in and acknowledge these deep mysteries of life, celebrating life for its valour. A captivating tale, this one is written in a stark, true tone, one that will settle and echo deep in the labyrinthine passages of your soul, making you question the reason for your existence and the purpose of your visit to this life.
So, I hope you guys liked my book review of “Under the Whispering Door” by T. J. Klune.
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