I am back with another Buddy Reads and Rants post with Jonny from Jonathan Pongratz. This time we are talking about Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune. We were both looking forward to reading this book especially after both of us loving The House in the Cerulean Sea. If you click the link above, you can read Jonnys review and you can read mine here. Keep reading to find out if we both loved this one as much as The House in the Cerulean Sea.
I’m Jonny, lover of all things macabre.
And I’m Misty, lover of all things romance!!
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.
Jonny is an Amazon affiliate and earns 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 him keep things running on his blog if you’re already intrigued enough to make a purchase.
Buddy Read Book Rant:
Hi Jonny, thank you for attempting this buddy read with me. I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts on this book since we are on completely different sides of the rating scale.
First thing I want to know is did you read the synopsis for this book before we started reading it? I’m sure I read it when I first added it to my TBR but I had completely forgotten what it was about so I had no clue what I was getting into.
Of course! I was super excited to try this one out with you. Yeah, we really were at opposing ends of the love it, hate it spectrum, which doesn’t typically happen with us.
I didn’t really read the synopsis so much as I skimmed it over. I remember nodding to myself like “Yeah, yeah, death death, and stuff. It’s gonna be like Cerulean Sea!”
I know I was surprised when we didn’t agree on this one because usually we are pretty similar in our thoughts on the books we choose to buddy read.
I didn’t realize it was going to be all about death so that came as a surprise to me.
So what were your initial thoughts when you started it?
Yeah, me too. It was bound to happen eventually, I suppose. I just really had high hopes for this one and ended up DNF’ing around the halfway mark because I wasn’t enjoying myself.
I felt it would be a lot about death, but more like exploring the world of spirits after one departs or some kind of adventure like that. In a way it was, but not with a lot of action or adventure from what I read.
I started out enjoying the book. Wallace had this Ebenezer Scrooge vibe that I really enjoyed, and having worked with many attorneys he fit the bill of some personalities I’ve encountered (and clashed with). The beginning setup was perfect, with him at his own funeral and getting mad at everyone. I loved his attitude haha.
Yeah that’s true. We can’t enjoy them all.
Like I said I pretty much went in blind so the fact that is what about death at all was a surprise to me. I think it’s more about what happens after death and what the people who have died go through.
I’ve never dealt with lawyers so I don’t have a frame of reference personally but I’ve always heard that lawyers are horrible lol.
I honestly loved all of the characters, Mei probably being my favorite. She was so funny. I laughed so much throughout the entire book(which considering it’s about death seems odd). My husband was looking at me and asking what was wrong with me.
I think all of the character grow throughout the book but Wallace the most.
Right, this was more about coming to terms with one’s mortality and looking back on life’s experiences. Which is great, but I was wanting more adventure alongside that theme, and it wasn’t really there.
Haha, it’s a mixed bag, honestly. I’ve had some really great lawyers that truly care about people and others were quite the opposite. I still work in the legal industry but rarely deal with lawyers.
Oh, I agree. The characters were good overall. Mei was definitely the comic relief and Hugo the contemplative one. I liked Mei’s loathing of the seance lady. That whole scene was very entertaining. Haha, that’s hilarious! Whenever I’m laughing a lot with a book my cat gives me the “are you crazy?” look for sure. Overall, lots of points for diversity in this book.
I also think there was growth with the characters, but I did detect something of a pattern with the revealing of traumatic pasts and it really took me out of the story.
I can understand if you went in expecting something different and it turned out to not be that. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it either. Luckily I went in blind and everything was a surprise for me so I connected with the story and the characters. It’s definitely more of a character driven book for sure.
Yes Mei was definitely the comic relief but some of the other characters did/said things that made me laugh. And there’s definitely some diversity in here and I loved how all of it was handled.
What pattern did you detect? I didn’t notice any kind of pattern. Maybe I was too into the story and just wasn’t paying close enough attention.
Yeah, I think my reading preferences came into play here. I’m okay with character-centered stories despite preferring plot-focused ones, but there still has to be some serious plot stuff going on to keep me interested or I’ll get bored. What I needed after a while was a change of scenery. A lot of the book is spent inside Hugo’s house, but I got tired of it and wanted some fresh air, so to speak. Earlier in the book Wallace ran away for a hot minute. More events like that would’ve kept me interested longer I think.
For sure. Hugo’s dad was really funny too with the wardrobe funnies they had. Yeah, the diversity they had didn’t feel forced either, which is really important.
What I noticed was that both Hugo and Mei had told Wallace in one-on-one conversations that they had certain things he shouldn’t talk about with the other person. Wallace would ask the other character once their friendship had grown and then they would tell him about their trauma. The first time was okay (I believe it was with Hugo), but the second time with Mei I knew there was a pattern and I didn’t like it because his approach didn’t change and it felt like there was a formula that Klune was following. It just didn’t feel authentic to me, although it could just be me. I get that Wallace was supposed to grow from these conversations, but it just felt a bit stale.
I prefer plot driven books but if the characters are good enough I can get behind a character driven book.
I love when the diversity is included in a story organically. Like you said it doesn’t feel forced when they do it that way.
I see where you’re coming from. I was loving the story so much that those things didn’t really jump out at me.
So you finished at about the halfway point and I finished it and fell in love. I honestly think I might have loved this one more than The House in the Cerulean Sea but I loved that one too.
I laughed I cried and laughed some more. I absolutely loved everything about it. You do have to suspend disbelief a little bit but I just didn’t care because the story completely hooked me.
Totally. There have been some character-based books that just hooked me despite my preferences. This wasn’t one of them, but it could definitely happen again.
Yeah, I’m not even sure why I noticed it in the first place. I think I started getting restless around the 25% mark and not really immersed in the story, so maybe that’s why. Otherwise, I may not have picked up on it.
That’s wonderful! I’m thrilled you enjoyed this one as much as you did. Man, I think the last time I cried book wise was A Monster Calls. The sob story behind the book and the story itself just crushed me.
Don’t worry friend, we’ll find that holy grail 5 star read that we’ll both love. I know it’s out there!
I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one as much as I did. I read A Monster Calls and I can’t remember if that one made me cry or not. It takes a lot to make me full on cry. The last book I remember that had me full on balling my eyes out was The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks.
Yes one day we will. Even though we haven’t found one we both absolutely love I still enjoy reading all of the books with you.
No worries at all. 🙂 Oh, I think I’ve heard of that one! I really liked the Notebook as a movie.
I agree 100%! There’s always next time, and with our bookish appetites we’ll have another buddy read soon. So many books, so little time! Thanks again for reading with me.
I liked the movie adaptation for The Notebook more than the book but I still enjoyed the book.
Yes we will definitely fit in more buddy reads soon. Anytime. Thank you for putting up with me falling behind.
Oh, good to know! Might have to just stick with the movie on that one since I’m not huge on romance anyways.
No problem at all! Technically I only read half a book, so that’s why I was so fast haha. Looking forward to next time!
It’s definitely heavy on the romance. I think the reason I didn’t enjoy the book as much was because of the formatting.
I’m looking forward to our next buddy read as well.
In the meantime, why not check out our other fun buddy reads?
That’s A Wrap!
Thanks for joining us on our buddy read and rant of Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune! We had a lot of fun and hope you did too! We will definitely be doing some more buddy reads in the future, so stay tuned! I hope you enjoyed this discussion post as much as we had putting it together. Thanks to Jonny for buddy reading this with me as well as getting this post put together. If you aren’t already following his blog, you definitely should.