Marc reviews the audiobook version of ‘The Lightning-Struck Heart’ (Tales From Verania #1) by TJ Klune. This audiobook was published by Dreamspinner Press on December 10, 2015 and is 19 hours and 48 minutes long. Ebook was released on July 20th 2015 and is 400 pages long. Narrated by Michael Lesley.
Also check out Sam’s review of ‘The Lightning-Struck Heart’ Audiobook HERE. 🙂
I LOVE fantasy books and ever since reading ‘Bear, Otter and the Kid’, ‘Into This River I Drown’, ‘Tell Me It’s Real’ and other books by TJ Klune, I’m a big fan of his writing. When the audiobook version of this book became available, I could not resist. It wasn’t what I expected at all, it was SO MUCH BETTER. Find my review below 🙂
DON’T MISS Michael Lesley’s guest post that will take you behind the scenes of an audiobook production. ‘The Lightning-Struck Heart was the best audiobook of 2015 for me and maybe the best audiobook I have yet listened to. It takes an exceptional story and adds to it through an incredible narration. So much talent combined in a 20 hour masterpiece!
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’s 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—Knight Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.
Naturally, it all goes to hell 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.
Or so he thinks.
Hello, I’m Michael Lesley.
I’ve been really happy with the reception that The Lightning Struck Heart has been receiving. It was such a pleasure to do, and the folks at Rainbow Gold Reviewers asked me to show a bit of insight on my process in the creation of an audiobook. Come! Come into my lair!
I like to think of each character of a book representing their own complete identity. I don’t want to cheapen somebody just because they’re a one-line show. I really like giving life to all characters, because it’s such a strange adaptation for this remotely distinguished identity to suddenly have a voice. It can make or break a scene, the true “these pretzels are making me thirsty” moment! It’s not always obvious. Here’s one of my favorite late-at-night recording moments trying to identify the voice of an orgy participant, a “…yummy blonde guy…” in Alisa Mullen’s Unrequited:
I listen to a lot of great audiobooks. I’m currently geeking over Stephen Fry’s reading of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which is truly terrific. I am keen to the distinctions of what makes an audiobook great, and I think the overriding essential for a good audiobook is rhythm. The story is important, character-voices are great; but what really compels my listening experience is cadence, momentum, diverse manners of speech and a feeling that the narrator is having fun with the book. In my interpretation, I think it is very important to have a full energy bar before beginning any project. Sometimes, you have to get really weird in trying to open yourself up to a scene to engage its inner life. Or maybe, really, this is my rationalization for going insane in my studio. I kept the clip of how I motivated myself to begin Owen Parr’s Due Diligence, an international crime thriller that is full of mystique and noir charms. I did not begin this book with the inevitable sober forwardness that it needed. Getting things going can sometimes be weird:
Truly, my favorite thing about this work is making characters. I think that’s why TJ Klune’s style and me meet so righteously on the soundwave. TJ really enables the ability to have fun with all of his characters. Absurdity is his strong suit. Many of the voices came out of a similar spiel of trials, as with the “yummy blond guy” above. Prince Justin, for instance, was totally developed from his line “get the fuck away from me,” when he first encounters Kevin. Thus, every time I had a Justin line, I would foment the voice by saying “Get the fuck away from me” before it.
I am so pumped to be featured on this website and so exhilarated about all of the positive reception of The Lightning Struck Heart. You can reach me by tweeting or following me at @MrMichaelLesley or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Look forward to future endeavors, hopefully a bevy of M/M romance amongst other things!!
It is very hard for me to describe this book. When I started it, I had not even read the blurb. I knew it was by an author I trusted and I like to be surprised. Boy, was I ever. It’s incredibly, ridiculously over the top, cheesy, hilarious and wonderful. The best comparison would be a mixture of Shrek and Alex Gabriel’s ‘Love for the Cold-Blooded or The Part-Time Evil Minion’s Guide to Accidentally Dating a Superhero.
The characters are so memorable and lovable that you will never forget them. The plot is smart and intriguing and completely unpredictable, because it breaks every single convention one can dream up. The most important thing for me, though, ist how incredibly entertained I was. This audiobook is almost 20 hours long, but I was never bored and couldn’t stop listening. I have never laughed so much and so loudly in my life as I did while listening to ‘The Lightning-Struck Heart’. God, I really want to listen to the whole book again right now as I write these words.
I’m sure just the book on its own would get a 10/10 rating from me, because the author put so much loving care into creating these wacky characters and putting them in the most unlikely, awkward and incredibly fun and unexpected situations. I was pulled into the story from the first page and was completely captivated until the last word. Whether it was another snarky, inappropriate comment from Gary, the gay, hornless unicorn or another bad guy, who inexplicably found himself sexually drawn to Sam or lost his chance to defeat the good guys with another ill-timed evil monologue, this story was an anti-depressant in book form for me. Not to mention the surprisingly heart-felt moments in between the comedy gold.
However, I do believe that the narration by Michael Lesley really adds to all that. He manages to make the characters come alive. It is not just a random guy reading a story to you in a sexy voice. Yes, he does have a very sexy voice and that certainly does not hurt, but it feels like the narrator becomes the characters and acts out their story. I was able to see them before me while I listened and they became real, not just book characters. It was an amazing experience.
I have listened to more than 200 audiobooks and many of them have been well-narrated. I don’t even mind if a narrator reads a story to me, if it is done well. I don’t always have time to read, but I can listen to stories. There have also been amazing narrators, who have completely encaptured the essence of certain characters in their narration. This ‘The Lightning-Struck Heart’ narration is up there in my top 5 though and may even be my very favorite narration. Ever. It certainly was my favorite audiobook of 2015. A high quality narration like this adds a completely new level to a book. And this 20 hour audiobook, like all others on audible, costs just 1 credit. I have never spent a credit so well.
In my opinion, everyone who hasn’t read or listened to TJ Klune’s ‘The Lightning-Struck Heart’ should really, really consider doing so.
I can’t recommend it enough. It was and is and will forever be fucking amazing. ❤
10/10 Pots of Gold (100% Recommended)
When TJ Klune was eight, he picked up a pen and paper and began to write his first story (which turned out to be his own sweeping epic version of the video game Super Metroid–he didn’t think the game ended very well and wanted to offer his own take on it. He never heard back from the video game company, much to his chagrin). Now, two decades later, the cast of characters in his head have only gotten louder, wondering why he has to go to work as a claims examiner for an insurance company during the day when he could just stay home and write.
He dreams about one day standing at Stonehenge, just so he can say he did.
Put on this planet to emulate human beings, Michael Lesley has spent a good portion of his life moving upwards and downwards as if on a moonbeam. He likes gentle walks in the park, and gentle dogs that glide upon sunsets like white-picket fences waved as white flags. He also likes shouting things into microphones.
At this time, I am the voice for several bestselling audiobooks. But my overarching goal is to be the voice you hear when you put your ear to a conch shell.