So….I downloaded this audiobook on Libby, thinking that it was a different TJ Klune. I thought I was borrowing The House in the Cerulean Sea. So I was Extremely Confused to be listening to a story about a real a-hole of a lawyer who dies suddenly but ends up sticking around as a ghost. This is no one’s fault but my own, of course, though it may explain why it took me a while to warm up to this story.
Wallace Price is the a-hole lawyer in question. And he is…comically jerky. Almost unbelievably so. He is, in fact, such a jackleg that when he has a heart attack and winds up as a ghost at his own funeral, all of the reader’s sympathies lie with every person who has had to put up with Wallace for as long as they did. Then Wallace notices Mei, who is the Reaper sent to collect him and guide him to What’s Next. What’s Next is a tea shop, populated by two other ghosts, and a Ferryman, Hugo, whose job is to help Wallace cross over. There are many quirky side characters and at least one eldritch being to round out the cast.
What the story is really about, though, is Wallace’s journey to become a better person, and eventually find love. If anything was going to shock Wallace out of his jerky ways, kicking the bucket and listening to all of his friends talk about how much they couldn’t stand him was probably a good place to start. From there, our heartwarming cast works their magic by being good people, and calling Wallace on his crap. That Wallace would finally use that combination of opportunity and prompting to grow worked for me. The part that didn’t quite work for me was Hugo reciprocating Wallace’s feelings. Maybe it’s because the whole story is from Wallace’s point of view, but I don’t think the author showed us enough of Hugo’s emotional evolution to make that part believable.
Ultimately, though, this is a very cozy book exploring the question of what you do with the time you have. Perfect for fans of The Good Place, which I thought of a lot while reading.