Narrator: Michael Lesley
Length: 19 hours, 48 minutes
Sam Haversford lived in the slums of Lockes in the land of Verania until the day he accidentally turned some other boys into stone and he was noticed by Morgan of Shadows, the King’s Wizard. Morgan then brought Sam to the castle to train as an apprentice for his future role as the King’s Wizard to the next king, Prince Justin. Too bad Justin is a total douche. And marrying the man of Sam’s dreams, Sir Ryan Foxheart, aka Knight Delicious Face. Sam knows that Ryan can never be his. He doesn’t even think Ryan knows who Sam is. But that doesn’t stop Sam from pining for the handsome knight (or even attending a Ryan Foxheart Fan Club meeting or two… or 30).
Despite having more power than pretty much anyone around, Sam is constantly getting himself into trouble, along with his best friends Gary, a hornless gay unicorn, and Tiggy, a 9-foot tall half giant. When Sam is captured by dark wizards yet again, it isn’t his fault that Tiggy goes all “smash” on the guy. And now pretty much every dark wizard in Verania wants Sam dead.
When a new dragon in town takes a liking to Justin and kidnaps him, Sam is sent on a quest to save the prince. Despite hating the guy, Sam would do anything for the king. Plus, he knows he is Justin’s future wizard so he can’t just leave the guy to be ravaged by a horny dragon. So off Sam goes, accompanied by Gary, Tiggy, and Ryan, to save the prince. Along the way the group runs into the trouble at pretty much every turn. Between the dark wizards wanting to kill him, the fairy king who wants them to get “gay fairy married,” a corn-loving cult that wants to kill him, magic mushroom circles, still more things trying to kill him, and a horny dragon, it is a miracle they all survive. Add in having to watch the hunky Ryan bathe in the river and the adventure is almost more than Sam can take.
Rescuing the prince isn’t going to be the hardest part however. That is watching Ryan and the prince get married. Because now that Sam has brought Justin home safe, the royal wedding is not far behind. Sam now knows that Ryan is everything he could ever want, the perfect match both for him and for his magic. But now that he has found love, Sam may just have to let it go.
Ok you guys, this is one of those reviews where I am going to tell you to just stop reading and start buying. Because this book was a-ma-zing (I can actually hear Sam’s voice in my head as I type that). This story is hysterical. Like laugh out loud embarrassingly because you are listening wearing headphones and people are looking at you but you can’t stop kind of funny. It is campy and silly and crazy and I adored every moment of it. Sam is a fabulous narrator, kind of dorky and a bit naive, but sweet and caring and fiercely protective of those he loves. It is hard not to adore him, despite his sometimes clueless nature, because he is a perfect mix of sweet and sassy. He can’t stop talking and gets himself into trouble all the time, but somehow pretty much everyone loves him.
As awesome as Sam is, this is really an ensemble story and it wouldn’t be the same without Gary and Tiggy. Gary, in particular, is the fiercest, campiest, most over-the-top unicorn you can possibly imagine. I loved him. LOVED. HIM. Gary so clearly loves and cares about Sam, but he also provides so much comic relief throughout the book, especially as he gets frustrated with Sam’s constant cluelessness. I loved the way that these side characters really show us the kind of love Sam engenders. From Gary and Tiggy, to Morgan, to the king, to the drag queen in the brothel, everyone loves Sam (well, except for Justin). As Ryan points out to his exasperation, pretty much everyone also wants to have sex with him. Rather than that making Sam too perfect in an annoying way, Klune manages instead to have all this adoration really showcase what a good person Sam is and help us root for him all the more.
This story is both romance and road trip. The journey and adventure these guys find themselves on is fabulously entertaining. This is a long book and I never once found myself bored. Between the crazy adventures and the amusing personalities, combined with the great world building, I was completely caught up in their journey. On top of that, we have the totally obvious to everyone but the two of them love between Ryan and Sam. Neither one quite realizes that the other is in love with him. But even once they catch on, they face the fact that Ryan is pledged to the prince. And OMG will your heart break as you see these two guys so desperately in love, but knowing they can’t have one another. It is to Klune’s credit that he can make this story so fun and silly and campy, but at the same time really tear at your heartstrings as we see these two lovers who face an impossible situation.
I listened to this story in audio, and seriously, it was probably the best audio narration I have ever heard. I can not even imagine a better match between story and narrator than Michael Lesley reading this book. He is fabulous. His timing is spot on, his voices are amazing, he captures the tone and the playfulness of the story just perfectly. What is most amazing to me is that this is a story with countless characters and each of them have distinct and perfectly fitting voices. When I think about how many audio books I listen to where the two main characters don’t even have different voices, I find this all the more amazing. Lesley’s narration is so spot on that out of the five lead characters, I could tell you who was speaking at any point after hearing only one or two words. Seriously, the quality was amazing. There are a million accents and voices from different regions, campy voices and serious voices, old, young. Just the breadth of characters and the perfect way they are depicted is unreal. All of which is to say that I highly, HIGHLY recommend this audio. I haven’t read the book in written form so I can’t compare, but this is easily the most impressive audio I have ever heard and to me this is totally the way to enjoy this book.
So you guys, this story is awesome. It is funny and sweet and romantic. The are quests and battles and magical powers. It is silly and poignant, clever and creative. The characters are wonderful and the book is full of heart. I highly recommend The Lightning-Struck Heart.
P.S. Sammy reviewed this one a while back in book form if you want to see her review as well.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.