Audiobook Review: The Lightning-Struck Heart (Tales from Verania #1) by TJ Klune


Author: TJ Klune
Narrator: Michael Lesley
Publication Date: December 10, 2015
Format: Audiobook
Audiobook Length: 19 hours and 48 minutes
Page Length: 400 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5

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Once upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City Of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident.

Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam’s pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the King’s Wizard, Morgan of Shadows.

When Sam’s fourteen, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds.

At fifteen, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle—Knight Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.

Naturally, it all goes to hell when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can’t control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the King sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan’s boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.

Or so he thinks.

I was super hesitant about starting this book. I absolutely loved the author’s books, Wolfsong and Murmuration (the only other two books I’ve read so far), but all I knew about this book is that it was fantasy and I didn’t know if I wanted to start a big, epic fantasy book. WELL. Joke’s on me, because this is now my most favorite fantasy books ever.

I will say that the humor will probably not be right for everyone, but I loved this. I would highly recommend everyone to download a sample of the book or listen to a sample of the audiobook first, because just from the first page alone, you can get a very good sense what kind of story this is. It reminds me of something more along the lines of the movie, Robin Hood: Men in Tights. I’m not entirely sure this is a book I could have read first. Like Murmuration, it’s not really a style I’m used to reading, but the audiobook is a very nice alternative. This audiobook had me laughing at very inopportune moments if I listened to it in public. The narrator, Michael Lesley, is immensely talented and his voices for the characters (there’s even special “effects” for the voices) is just top-notch.

This book stars Sam Havesforth, a 20-year-old wizard’s apprentice also known as Sam of Wilds, who is sure to spend the rest of his days pining after the knight, Ryan Foxheart. Sam’s best friends are a hornless gay unicorn, Gary, and a half-giant named Tiggy. The characters are super sassy. And full of sexual innuendoes. It is amazing.

This fantasy is a comedy, but there’s a lot of depth to the characters and a lot of heart at the core of this story. Sam is selfless and willing to sacrifice his own wants and needs to put others first. This isn’t off-putting or anything though, because Sam is so sweet and kind. He’s really lovely and awkward (like really awkward) and just the best. There is a certain air of Sam being the all powerful hero, but his character is someone who no one really takes seriously, so it’s really kind of endearing.

The banter, the UST, between Sam and Ryan is hilarious. They are so oblivious to each other’s attraction, but literally everyone can see how much Sam and Ryan are heart eyes for one another. Even complete strangers who are in their presence for only a few minutes. There’s not really any hot, steamy sex if that’s what you’re looking for. The majority of this book is just Sam and Ryan longingly looking at each other.

“If Sam were a tree, you know what kind of tree he’d be?”

“What kind?”

“A pine. Because of all the pining.”

“Unicorns should never tell jokes,” I told them.

The Sam/Ryan, or HaveHeart, as their fanclub ship name goes, is doomed from the beginning, it seems. Ryan is engaged to Prince Justin of Verania, and Prince Justin got himself captured by a dragon. Who Sam, Ryan, Gary, and Tiggy must now go rescue. Their journey is absolutely hilarious from start-to-finish. After this book, I will never see unicorns, dragons, or fairies the same way again.

There are a few places in this book that I do question certain things. Like, I’m not sure about how Sam’s mother’s Romani heritage is addressed? The Roma are referred to several times in this book as g*psies (and apparently with a whole backstory in the next). But whether or not it’s appropriate? I really don’t know if it’s offensive or not in the context of this book, but I thought I might point that out. Also, there’s a few rape jokes that readers will probably feel uncomfortable with (like Gary saying he needs his scarves; otherwise, he’ll have “wind rape hair”).

All the characters, from the good guys to the bad guys, are still IRL laugh out loud material. I would not recommend trying to drink or eat while listening to the audiobook, because that could easily become a choking hazard. The jokes are non-stop and there’s going to be THREE MORE BOOKS IN THIS SERIES. Or rather, the next three are a trilogy all by themselves, so I’m not sure what that makes this one. The prequel? Apparently, Sam and Ryan’s HEA won’t be messed with in future books, so I’m looking forward to reading, or rather, listening, to the rest of this series!


7 thoughts on “Audiobook Review: The Lightning-Struck Heart (Tales from Verania #1) by TJ Klune

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