Book Review: The Lightning-Struck Heart by TJ Klune


tlsh-coverOnce 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 is 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. Sir Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.

Naturally, it all goes to hell through the years 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.



This book was hilarious. It had me laughing from the get-go. And yet…I did have a couple of issues with it. But I still had a fantastic time reading it!

It’s hard to talk about Klune’s strengths as a writer because I think he has so many! He creates fantastic characters and lets you connect with them on an emotional level, that’s certainly true here for Sam, our protagonist. His books are filled to the brim with emotions and that’s one of the reasons I love his writing because I’m very much an emotional reader. There are so many great instances here where he charges a scene with emotion, letting us feel what Sam is feeling–getting to experience those ups and downs is one of the joys of reading this book.

Another strength of Klune’s is humor and here it’s in abundance. The summary does an okay job as far as preparing you for what kind of hilarious ride you’re in for but imagine your expectations and then turn them up to 11. I love the humor especially when it’s used to call out certain tropes like the villains in stories always doing a monologue. The call out on this isn’t a new thing but it’s still hilarious to see here especially because it’s a reoccurring joke.

I think the world-building in this one is pretty light and leans on typical fantasy tropes for the most part, but there are some differences. For instance, I love that being gay in this society is totally accepted and not a huge deal. The prince wants to marry a dude? No biggie! I liked that Klune included an asexual character as well. Anyway, all the hallmarks of fantasy are there from royalty to wizards to dragons and unicorns. I like how Klune took all these familiar things and put a slight twist on them to make them really fun and refreshing. It’s clear he had a good time with the tropes.

I would say the one major thing that was a negative for me with this book is that it’s entirely too long for the story it’s telling. Don’t get me wrong, all the little asides and tangents are hilarious, but they don’t really advance the plot at all. It’s sooooo meandering–I think it would have been a better story if it had been trimmed down some even if that meant losing some of the jokes. It’s not as if losing a few of those scenes would have hurt it much because the book is so infused with humor–you’re not really losing any laughs or making it more serious by cutting a bit out.

The other thing that bugged me, which is much more of a minor thing and maybe a personal issue is how focused on sex the characters are all the time. I don’t mind it some of the time but it’s alllll the time and after a while it’s not quite as funny and just had me sighing. It reminds me of a time many, many, many years ago my friend G and I made up a story collaboratively in high school and his characters were always running off to bone in new and interesting ways which was funny to start with but something I quickly grew tired of even back then (when I thought about sex a lot more often). I get it! You’re thinking about sex a lot! Weeeee! It’s not the only thing in life and I’m a little tired of hearing about cock and what your cock is thinking about all the time (spoiler–it’s other cocks), thanks. 😛 Like I said, there was some great emotional moments of this one, but I do think those moments were overshadowed a little bit by all the dick jokes.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with this one and am definitely looking forward to reading more of Klune’s work. 3.5/5 stars.



12 thoughts on “Book Review: The Lightning-Struck Heart by TJ Klune

  1. Tammy says:

    I guess if the author is so focused on sex, he must be writing it for a specific audience. It really bugs me too, especially if you aren’t prepared going into a book. But still, I do want to give Klune a try!

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery says:

    It does indeed sound funny (I started laughing at the synopsis with the mention of the hornless unicorn…), but I can agree on the fact that something funny remains funny as long as it’s not repeated too often: when the joke becomes stale, no one laughs anymore.
    Still, I could give this one a spin – thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

    OK, the moment I saw this was a TJ Klune book, of course I had to check out your review for it! I plan on reading his backlist, because I loved his new books so much. Klune’s humor is definitely what got me with his book I read, so I’m really excited to see that it was prominent in this book, too. Sounds like I need to give this book a read! Thanks for the review.

    • waytoofantasy says:

      I LOVE Klune and even though I had a few quibbles with this one it has everything I love about his writing as well–a full range of emotional connections, humor, fun characters that you care about.

    • waytoofantasy says:

      I love his books. I have read one of his Green Creek series too and I think I liked that one more than this one but he’s really great at bringing the emotions–great combo of angst and humor.

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