Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Under the Whispering Door, by T.J. Klune (author), Kirt Graves (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, ISBN 9781250790163, September 2021

Wallace Price is a successful lawyer, partner in the prestigious firm he and his partners built, and he's a rather terrible human being. Cold, harsh, never kind, sometimes actively cruel.

And then one day, he dies, quite suddenly, of a heart attack, all alone in the office on a Sunday afternoon. For the next few days, he's frustrated that no one can see or hear him. Finally, at his funeral, someone does--his Reaper, come to collect him. The Reaper, a young woman named Mei, is on her first solo job, but she's good at it, and she brings him to Charon's Tea and Treats Shop. It's a real tea shop, but it's also the home base of Hugo Freeman, the Ferryman. Or at least, a Ferryman.

There are many ferrymen, in various places around the world, because one Ferryman couldn't handle all the dead who need help adjusting, and passing through the Door.

The newly dead don't always pass through quickly; some take several days to adjust and be ready. One person stayed two weeks. Wallace is going to smash that record all to heck. He's got a lot to learn about himself, about who he was and who he could be, and the true nature of life and death. Along the way, he comes to find the Ferryman very attractive, both physically and in personality and character.

But while Hugo the Ferryman is the immediate boss of the tea shop/way station, there's a Manager over him. It's clear from comments by Hugo, Mei, and Hugo's (deceased) grandfather, Nelson, that the Manager is quite dangerous and rather unpleasant. When Wallace has been, increasingly comfortably, ensconced in the tea shop for several weeks, while learning more about the business of the afterlife, including husks--people who refused to cross over and tried to leave the grounds of the tea shop--the Manager pays a visit, and tells Wallace he has to cross over in seven days, or the Manager will see to it that he does.

The characters are all interesting and engaging, and revealed gradually along the way. Most of all, though, we see Wallace undergoing the character development he should have while he was alive, and chose not to, in pursuit of money and power.

I found this an altogether charming and engaging book.

It should be noted that Hugo has a dog, Apollo, who is A Very Good Boy, and since he is already dead at the start, and is present as a ghost, he can't die in the course of the story.


I bought this audiobook.

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