REVIEW: TJ KLUNE’S THE LIGHTNING-STRUCK HEART, BY SIAN THOMAS

5 Stars


I read this book in about, let’s say, ten hours total. Over two days, because I’m grown and have a job and go to bed at 10pm and stuff like that, but I thought about this book the entire time I wasn’t reading it. I thought about this book when I was clocking into work at 5:58am this morning, I thought about this book when I was making lunch and left it upturned in my armchair, I thought about this book when the delivery company told me “It’s on the way!” because my excitement was obliterating, and I just could not stop thinking about what a treat I was in for.

Because I was. In for a treat.


I was achingly awaiting the release of TJ Klune’s Under the Whispering Door and wanted something to scratch the itch sooner. I have the Green Creek Series on my shelf, and the House on the Cerulean Sea, too, but I was looking for something new to me to prep for the all-new new-to-everyone release of Under the Whispering Door. I was excited, since The Lightning-Struck Heart is the foundation of a wider series, and I was ready to commit to something fun, light-hearted, and absolutely intoxicating. Since, I reiterate, I read it in about ten hours. It was an excellent start to what I’m sure will be an incredible series, setting up a joyous protagonist with his mismatched, knit-together found family; a unicorn (Gary), half-giant (Tiggy), knight (Ryan), mentor (Morgan), parents, king, and later, dragon, and prince. And I love them. All of them. Just so much. TJ Klune has a fantastic way of crafting the nuanced relationships between his characters; they feel like genuine people, like real conversations are taking place and I can see where they can go before they do, and I adore that. I can see the bonds through their words and the love through the thoughts of the protagonist (Sam Haversford). This is something I have always admired from TJ Klune – I find it remarkable how well done it is every single time. In the Green Creek series, the pack bonds speak for themselves; they are visceral and enveloping. In the House in the Cerulean Sea, they are endearing and heartfelt. In this book, they are tantalizing, fun, witty, and downright hilarious. I think only a few choice authors have ever made me laugh out loud while staring down at the book in my hands in an otherwise silent room. So loud you’d think I’d have barked like a dog. This was one of those authors, making one of those special books that seem to fit in my hands just right. Isn’t that neat?

I loved it. Could you tell? Probably.

The plot is there, in between the bits and pieces of the romance story I was absolutely absorbed in. I find it a really good starting point for a wider series, it deals really nicely with the world itself and the character dynamics, and where/how they fit into their world of Verania, and it sets up really well where the rest of the wider story will go. I love the way the magical creatures were involved with every bit of their own flare, the individualism of TJ Klune’s work is astounding; unique and much needed in the fantasy sections of stores that are just far too filled with whatever new cover Harry Potter has now. I’m excited to see the way this wide world will expand and how the characters fit into it as they, and it (I’m sure), will change around them. And honestly, I’m looking forward to seeing what conflicts will arise between everyone and what exactly it might lead to. I’m doing my very best to not spoil everything about the first book, and I’m trying my best to enter the rest of the series as blindly as I can (I find that best with TJ Klune books – he assures his readers of happy endings, which I have seen time and time again and never once got tired of, but I love the rollercoaster feeling of his novels too much to ruin my fun before I’ve had it).

If anything is a take away here, I find TJ Klune books, this one in particular, about connection, at the heart of everything. Yes, magic is cool, and mystery is fun, but my favourite thing about any TJ Klune story is that it is simply not the same without the connections made along the way. I love seeing it, and I’d love to be able to explain it without screaming “READ THIS BOOK” or “OH MY GOD” or, I don’t know, squealing a little. But it is most definitely a skill I admire in a writer and would love to learn to do myself, one day. Sam Haversford has his best friends, and slowly collects more as the book goes on (which I love. It’s like there’s no bad guys. There’s just stubborn strangers who slowly becoming a part of the group), and his energy is contagious, his demeanour perfectly sunshine-y, his dynamic with his friends complementary and genuine.

To talk about something else, I really loved the humour of the book. It feels youthful and energetic, and it’s perfectly in my style. The thought-process of the main character, his quick wit, and the back-and-fore of him and the other characters is absolutely adoring. It’s fun, snappy, and all-around joyful; there were so many times where I had a huge grin on my face, watching jokes fly between characters for pages and pages, one thing snowballing into another before the plot reintroduced itself to me.

The book is fun. I really, really liked it. I can tell my reading slump has ended on account of, I then immediately bought the rest of the series, Under the Whispering Door, and another book on my way home from work. TJ Klune’s writing is real, and special, and means the absolute world to me. I am beyond excited to experience more of it.

Sian Thomas

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