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

Sam is the apprentice to the King's Wizard, and he's hopelessly in love with Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart even though Ryan is dating the prince. But when Prince Justin is taken by a dragon, Sam, Ryan, Gary (Sam's hornless gay unicorn best friend), and Tiggy (his half-giant other best friend) are all sent to get him back. Sam thought he could protect his heart and move on, but, the more time he spends with Ryan, the less he's sure of that.

Book Review: The Lightning-Struck Heart (Tales from Verania Book 1) by TJ Klune | reading, books, book reviews, fantasy, high fantasy, lgbt, m/m
Title: The Lightning-Struck Heart
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 400
My Rating: 4 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


*I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review.*

This is one of those books that cannot be taken too seriously. It’s silly and absurd, but it’s meant to be. In fact, it even reminded me of The Princess Bride just a little bit (but a lot more inappropriate) since it was also set in a fantasy world. And it’s the perfect kind of book to read when you need a pick-me-up because it’s light and takes your mind off things and makes you laugh and smile.

All of the characters were quirky and sassy and joke-y, even the king and king’s wizard and the bad guys. But Sam was the most awkward and flaily. He was like if Tumblr and internet memes had a baby. Actually all the characters were like that, but Sam especially so. Lots of modern humor and colloquialisms, like, “Because reasons,” and, “You mad, bro?” That sort of thing. One of the things I really liked about Sam though was that he understood and respected that Ryan was already in a relationship. It seems like in every book/movie/show where the main character likes someone but that someone is in a relationship, everyone seems to think it’s ok for the MC to move in and try and break them up, just because they’re the MC or because the love interest’s partner is a jerk. But that’s not ok with me, and because Sam and I were on the same page, I could fully stand behind Sam and his decisions and sympathize with him. And I liked that even Prince Justin (the love interest’s partner) wasn’t truly villainized. I felt legitimately bad for him, and he really didn’t do anything wrong. Also, Gary immediately reminded me of Ponyhead from Star vs. the Forces of Evil. The sassy unicorn best friend. It’s a thing, apparently. Not that I’m complaining.

“Honey,” Gary said, “the only thing that’s blasphemous up in here right now is your hair. That shit be tragic.”

But all the characters, despite being kind of crazy, were sweet and lovable, and the book was filled with friendship and family and love and people caring about each other. Ok, I actually thought Sam’s behavior regarding his crush on Ryan was creepy—I mean, he was in a Ryan fan club, literally—but it was acknowledged, so that made it ok.

“You get that from your father. Sometimes when I wake up at night, he’s watching me sleep.”

“It’s true, son,” Dad said. “We’re kind of creepy. But we love with our whole creepy hearts.”

I was also right there with everyone else in this book with how frustrating Sam and Ryan were because of how so stupidly oblivious they were. The best scene by far was the one with the truth corn. Wait, no, I take that back. The best scene was definitely that part before the wedding. I was laughing so loud at Tiggy running and Randall going along with the pimp jokes and all the other stuff that my neighbors could probably hear me through the walls.

It was also kinda fun how the author mixed in modern things, but with a fantasy twist, except he didn’t even try to really make them fit into the world realistically? That sounds like a bad thing, but it wasn’t. It was funny, like how they had magic crystals instead of cell phones, but the old wizard couldn’t figure out how to use it at first, and everyone was all, “Can you hear me now?” and then the conversation ended when one of them pretended to go through a tunnel.

So overall, this book was funny and fun and light-hearted and absurd and just emotional enough to be touching. I absolutely recommend it to anyone who likes this kind of humor and needs a mood lifter.


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  1. Danya @ Fine Print

    I’m gonna be honest with you, Kristen: all I really needed to hear about this book was “hornless gay unicorn best friend” and I was sold. LMAO. And truth corn?! Honestly this sounds absolutely batshit and hilarious. I want it immediately. 😀

  2. Greg

    I like a goof-off book once in a while. Kind of a cool title too. Sounds like the humor’s on point and I like that the modern language works- that can be tricky. Sometimes you just wanna read something kinda whimsical, with good characters and humor.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It can definitely be tricky, but I think he made it work here! And I agree, sometimes you just need a book like this which is exactly why I read it when I did lol.

  3. Olivia Roach

    I love a good sassy character! I’m someone who sometimes has trouble suspending my disbelief or reason too much when reading, but if I went into this book knowing I shouldn’t be taking it too seriously I believe I would still be able to enjoy it just as much! I love the sound of this one being so much about caring for those you love or who love you.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I also tend to prefer things more realistic, but I can make an exception when the humor is written well and the author knows how to pull it off. And the way all the characters cared about each other really was sweet!

  4. Yani

    I have not read fantasy books with LGBTQ+ characters in a while since Carry On! Maybe this would be the next. Plus, this is in a series so YAY!!

  5. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    This sounds like a fun and ridiculous read. I would definitely have to be in the right mood to read it but it sounds like the mix of the modern and normal fantasy read totally works here. It’s the kind of books that sort of sounds like it shouldn’t work but it does. I did have to laugh at the hornless gay unicorn best friend, like, that right there shows the book leans slightly to the absurd.

  6. Angie @ Ba_BAMB

    Sometimes a fun, outrageous book is just what a reader needs, and I like when a book doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    Great review! I loved that last snippet you shared!

  7. Wendy @ Birdie Bookworm

    Excellent review! I gave it 3 stars, my only 3 star review for TJ Klune, but you’ve made me want to reread it and see if it was just my mood. Your review made me laugh because the book was just so darn funny. My favorite part was this: “Sam was the most awkward and flaily. He was like if Tumblr and internet memes had a baby.” Sam couldn’t be explained any better!