Title: The Lightning-Struck Heart (Tales from Verania #1)
Author: T.J. Klune
# pages: Audiobook ~17 hours
Date read: January, 2017
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 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.
Oh boy, where to start!
I have two simultaneous thoughts I want to get out through this review.
1) This book was HILARIOUS and I loved every minute of it. Can't remember when a book has last made me laugh this much and this often. Not to mention that it was just SWEET! ... at times... in places...
2) This book should come with a shit-load of warnings for language and content and is NOT for everybody!
(And for once I'm not going to apologize for my language, because I'd rather scare you off now, than after buying the book. Just trust me on that one. Consider it a VERY mild example).
Meet Sam of Wild - a 20-year-old wizard's apprentice, who has an incredible talent for getting captured by Dark wizards... but fortunately they just. can't. stop. monologueing!
Gary - a hornless gay unicorn who snorts coloured sparks and poops rainbows and cupcake-smells.
Tiggy - a half-giant who'll smash all of Gary and Sam's enemies if they let him.
Kevin - a sexually aggressive dragon.
'Mother' - Sam's fairy drag-mother.
Dmitri - the 6" tall gay fairy with a size-kink whom Sam almost got gay fairy married to that one time...
And of course - Knight Ryan Deliciousface... oops, sorry, I mean Ryan Foxface, who's the object of Sam's abject devotion, but unfortunately betrothed to Prince Justin.
Add all this together, and you get the FUNNIEST book it's been my pleasure to read in a very, very long time (I laughed out loud more times than I can count), while at the same time being incredibly rich in sexual jokes and very crude language. So if (explicit) M&M romance and (even more explicit) sexual banter is a dealbreaker for you - this is your warning.
The plot itself was well executed and pretty traditional for a fantasy novel - prince gets captured by dragon, knight and wizard must go free prince and return home in time for a royal wedding - yada-yada-yada. The novel's strength comes in the dialogue between the characters, and the obvious affection between Sam and his friends (including Ryan), his family, and even his wizard mentor and his King. Sam has the weirdest life ever, but it never seems forced, and much like Douglas Adams, T.J. Klune manages to make the jokes and mad escapades seem effortless and natural. The writing was excellent and appropriately witty all the way through.
The ending was perhaps a tiiiiiiny bit more explicit than I would have liked (although that may mostly have been because of the awkwardness of listening to it, rather than reading it myself), but for most of the book the sexual content is mostly talk, very little action. So download a sample off amazon, and if the language in the first few paragraphs doesn't scare you off - go for it. You won't regret it.
I "read" this as an audiobook, and absolutely adored the narrator, Michael Lesley. I've never listened to any of his performances before, but did an incredible job.