Group Review: Murmuration by T.J. Klune

In the small mountain town of Amorea, it’s stretching toward autumn of 1954. The memories of a world at war are fading in the face of a prosperous future. Doors are left unlocked at night, and neighbors are always there to give each other a helping hand.

The people here know certain things as fact:

Amorea is the best little town there is.

The only good Commie is a dead Commie.

The Women’s Club of Amorea runs the town with an immaculately gloved fist.

And bookstore owner Mike Frazier loves that boy down at the diner, Sean Mellgard. Why they haven’t gotten their acts together is anybody’s guess. It may be the world’s longest courtship, but no one can deny the way they look at each other.

Slow and steady wins the race, or so they say.

But something’s wrong with Mike. He hears voices in his house late at night. There are shadows crawling along the walls, and great clouds of birds overhead that only he can see.

Something’s happening in Amorea. And Mike will do whatever he can to keep the man he loves.

Welp. We seem to have a habit of Unicorn piling on T.J. Klune whenever he releases something. Hope he likes horns otherwise... awkward.

Unicornian Average

Sara - 5 Hearts

Holy cow and the whole pasture! This book is nothing like I have read before. I am a fan of the Klune-age but this, it’s over and beyond what I had hoped for.

It’s remarkable, really. Amorea really is one of the greatest places in the world.

The best books are the ones that make you think. The ones that challenge what you think you know and make you reach for what could be. The ones that make you, yeah… apply Occam’s razor to the story because what you think is happening, well, isn’t. Or is it? GOOD LORD. This book is a mind fuck but not in the way you think. It’s not dark or devious, it’s just psychologically intense, ridiculously intimate and amazing.

This isn’t physical… It’s intimacy, simple and easy.

You wanna know what else this book is? It’s stupidly romantic. Like head over heels romantic and not much happens physically between Sean and Mike to make that so. It’s the emotions that pour off the page and into my soul that make this romantic. It’s the idea of doing anything and giving all for love. Le sigh.

He likes books and knows sometimes, what’s on the page is nothing more than what’s on the page. That’s it. Nothing more. There’s no hidden meaning. There’s nothing to parse out.

Go ‘head and throw that idea out the window or wait, maybe marinate in it until your fingers are pruny because you know what? This book is full of twists, turns and full on “what if’s’ from page to page and it was stellar. It had me thinking of my favorite episodes from The Twilight Zone, A Stop at Willoughby to be exact, with Gart Williams and his need to escape a terrible existence. Was the stop at Willoughby Gart going insane or was it him actually finding his sanity? Would there be a connection to how I saw that episode and what I was reading? Hmm. Oh and it had me pausing numerous times to google Starling Murmurations. Let me just say, if you’ve never watched one, do it because it’s stunning to watch. But along with watching the birds dance like water in the sky, I started to read up on why they do it and the why of it; the protection and defense to put themselves between predators made me start to question everything about this book.

I don’t know how to properly review it without spoiling so I will wrap it all up with a few thoughts. Read this with an open mind. Fall in love with the hopelessly romantic romance between Mike and Sean. Take a stroll through Amorea and feel the need to go to the mountains. But most of all…don’t try too hard to figure it all out and just enjoy the slow thrusting of Klune’s words between your cerebral cortex as he fucks your brain into the mattress and turns you into goo.


This was a good book.

Jenni Lea - 5 Hearts

How does one write a review of a book that they can’t say anything about without spoiling? I’m not sure it can be accomplished but I’m going to try.

This book was intense. A total mind fuck of a story that had me bewildered from the very first page. By the time I reached chapter two (which, by the way, was in Roman numerals thus adding to the confusion as I had to remember how to read them) I knew I was in for a serious mind melting tale. I had so many theories by the time I reached the quarter mark that my brain was starting to short out. Of course, shortly thereafter I had to toss all those theories out the window. Luckily, I have ADD and my brain thrives on chaos so I was able to give up trying to figure out what was going on and just sit back and enjoy where the story was taking me. That turned out to be the best decision I ever made, for many reasons but especially for two.

First, letting go allowed me to focus on the romance. And let me tell you, this story is sooo romantic! TJ said it was his most romantic story and I have to agree with him 100%. It’s not a romance in the traditional sense; I felt it on a much deeper level. It made me feel more than I have while reading in a long time. I was swooning almost from the beginning. These characters and what they say to each other, what they mean to each other… gah! I can’t describe it. I’m trying to come up with a comparison but I’m coming up empty. With just a look, just a “yeah”, I was a goner. I’m still thinking about it days after reading. I’m still feeling this days after reading. My heart is so full. I just.., don’t know what to say. I have the urge to find TJ and give him the biggest hug in thanks for writing those beautiful, beautiful words. They moved me.

Dammit! I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it. *deep breath* Ok, JL, get it together and finish your review. You can read the book again once you’re done.

The other main reason letting go helped was that I was able to immerse myself in the story so deeply that I felt like I was there. I let all of the words just wash over and through me and it helped me to connect with the characters to the point I felt like I knew them; like I’ve always known them. I lived in Amorea with them. I ate at that diner. I perused the shelves in that bookstore. I sat on the grass in that park and I watched the clouds go by. I was invested. I was so involved with this story that I just had to talk to someone about it. Thank everything in the world that I had a friend who read this with me because if I didn’t talk about this book I was going to explode. And we talked. We talked until we just about broke gmail. Did you know there is a limit to how many emails can be in one thread on gmail? I do… now.

So there I was, reading and talking and feeling when something happened. Something amazing happened. All it took was one word, just one little word, and it happened.

I got it.

I got it! It all just clicked together in my brain and I understood everything! I knew what this story was about! I knew what was happening and more importantly, I knew why. It was incredible! It was brilliant! I was in awe.I’m still in awe sitting here writing this review. TJ’s writing skills and his brilliant, magnificent brain are beyond contestation. I urge everyone to pick up this book. Lose yourself in the story. Feel the romance. Take a stroll through Amorea. Stop in the diner for a quick bite and be sure to visit the bookstore while you’re there. It’s an experience I guarantee you’ve never had before and will never have again.

Chelsea - 4.5 Hearts

Please please please don’t read reviews with spoilers in them, it will ruin what is fantastic about this book. If there's anything you’re anxious about, hopefully I’ll put it to rest with this review (without spoilers).

I’ll be brief because I won’t be giving away spoilers and there are lots more detailed reviews out there. I’m just going to go through a few points that I generally like to know before going into a book I know nothing about. So here goes.

1. HEA

Yes it does! Some (although not many I’m sure) would argue with that, but to me there is no way better way I could imagine this ending!! (And you get all the answers you want!)

2. Romance

The romance in this is one of those forever and ever type of loves, and it is soooooo beautiful. I craved all the scenes with Mike and Sean together and gushed like someone discovering romance novels for the first time. While the romance is prominent and constant, I still felt it was overshadowed by the mystery at times, but the mystery was so mind-blowingly engaging I didn’t mind.

3. Sex

Like all Klune books, they are not about sex but about feelings and relationships, it’s exactly the same here. That being said there is a sex scene and it’s made better for the build-up. It ends up being everything you’d what for these two, romantic, tender and still super hot!

4. Writing Style

There’s nothing like it. I was glued from the first sentence and was stuck in Mike's head until the end! Perfect!

5. How it made me feel

Now this is the important one isn’t it. I don’t like feeling stressed or anxious while reading and honestly that's why this is 4.5 and not 5 hearts, because I was anxious while reading it. That was because I wasn’t sure if there’d be a HEA though, and now that you know there is, you can enjoy the wild mind-fuck for what it is.

This made me feel lots and lots. Confused is probably the most prominent emotion. If you can just sit back, relax and let events unfold as they do it’ll be more enjoyable and it's completely engrossing. Being with Mike each step of the way was a journey I loved and will be thinking about a lot over the next few weeks.

Give the book a shot. Whether you love it, like it or can’t stand how confused it left you, Mike and Sean’s story will leave you thinking about it long after you’re done.

Optimist King's Wench - 4 Hearts

“The very essence of romance is uncertainty.”
– Oscar Wilde

True story! I was not in the mood to read this. I must’ve opened and closed it three times before I told myself, ‘let’s get ‘er dun. Daylight’s wasting!’ But that tide turned quickly when I realized I was only going to get one chance to read this for the first time and I shouldn’t deprive myself of the experience. I think that’s a testament to Klune’s writing prowess that I feel like his stories are meant to be experienced and make no mistake Murmuration is an experience. One that I’ll not soon forget and am fairly confident in it being a book people will discuss.

I’ve thought about this book for several days now even woken up at ungodly hours thinking about it. I read the blog post that said Murmuration was exceedingly romantic. I agree that the premise is the stuff of a classic romance-mostly chaste (excepting one whopper of a sex scene!) with a timeless romance trope that’s always inviting. But I think the execution of the sentiment was buried under the verisimilitude of Amorea and the white noise of Mike’s psyche. I’m still conflicted on this though because there are several swoonworthy moments. While the connection between Sean and Mike is unequivocal, there was something missing for me that’s hard to define. Maybe it’s that uncertainty Wilde speaks of? Maybe Sean’s perspective would’ve made a difference? I’m not sure. Regardless, I am rooting for them, but they didn't set up camp in my heart. Also, if you’re looking for a solid HEA you’ll likely be disappointed.

However, the cleverness of Murmuration is something I cannot ignore. It’s clear time, effort and research were put forth and those are things that appeal to me. Amorea is a halcyon 50s town with all its controlled rigidity and contrasting it with contemporary society poses a number of interesting questions. The 50s possess a winsome quality that harkens back to a simpler time where everyone was stalwart and there was a sense of inclusion, if you towed the line. There is a certain charm about the era, conservative and restrictive morals notwithstanding. But Klune making the queer community inclusive added another dimension that made it just a tiny bit tempting. I wouldn’t want to return to that sort of parochial society, but I have to say the dynamics, implications and possibilities under these particular circumstances got into my head. I wish I could go into more specifics but spoiling and you should enter into this book with a clean slate. I truly believe everyone will have a different experience or interpretation of it which gives it an irrefutable gravitas and respectability, in my opinion.

There were a couple of plot points that I’ve mostly chalked them up to foolishness and superstition, but the bottom line is I still have questions and I wish I didn’t. Another thing that needled was the repetition. I’m still a Klune neophyte and I believe this is a facet of his writing style. It worked for me in Wolfsong but here it seemed manufactured with the express purpose of convincing me just how much Mike and Sean love one another rather than allowing me to come to that conclusion on my own.

Nonetheless, the story is engaging, cerebral, held my attention and made me think which is why I think everyone should read it.

Sheziss - 4 Hearts

Beware of yourself.

Beware of the horse.

Beware of the birds.

Beware of everybody.

And everything else.

But beware of yourself first.

You can never know. The psyche works in mysterious ways.


Well, that was all sorts of spectacular.

There are moments like these in which I realize Klune is not just a good M/M romance writer. But he is a good writer. His stories show off a utter complexity formed with a layer and a layer, and a layer beneath, that they become a solid and bullet-proof cloth with apparently no effort. It just flows. They become something tangible, something real.

The book is marvelous. I was hooked and couldn’t let go. Mike’s voice is compelling and inquisitive. There are questions, questions, questions, and wrong, wrong, WRONG signs. From all directions: up and down, right and left, from the inside, from the outside. I felt chills during most of the time. It definitely put me on edge. It surely drove me crazy.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this is the most romantic story written by Klune. Moreover, what dazzled me was everything that was not love. Everything else. Like… everything in the end? I know it doesn’t speak high of the book, because chances are people wanna know whether or not this is a good romance. Well, the romance is sweet, friends becoming lovers so very slowly, trust and friendship taking an eternal meaning. Yes, I enjoyed it pretty much. But it’s eclipsed by the utter magnificence of everything else. Which is like, the most important part of the book. For me, the romance was a secondary plot, even though the MC’s motivations are truly led by this strong emotion. His decisions are driven by love at its purest sense. So I guess that’s why Klune said this was his most romantic novel. However, I also have to admit I got more love feelz in other novels of his.

I have no way to classify this story. There is no corseted genre in the M/M romance with whom I could compare this book. The blurb leads you to believe this is historical, but I dare to say that’s not it, not exactly. I’d say it’s more fantastical than historical. No, not unicorns to be seen, but believe me, very weird things happen here. You can never let your mind rest in peace, because you never know when and how the next blow will come. And I promise you this, it will come, in one way or the another, but it will. One after the other. KO after KO.

Sends shivers down my spine, body’s aching all the time...

Although you get hints and clues, you cannot entirely grasp what’s going on, and that was a powerful incentive to go on by itself.

But what a hell of a trip! This maelstrom in Mike’s head surely sucks you in. No escape.

Everything was spot-on. Every question unveiled. Every mystery unfolded. Everything was ok. More than ok. Superb. Spectacular. Mindfuck. And reaching the climax, reaching the climax, reaching the CLIMAX… puff. I mean, that ending? I admit I had issues with that last 5%. I rebelled against the idea. It didn’t sit right with me. It didn’t agree with me. So I let some time pass. I let myself ponder it. Chew on it. Sleep on it. And you know what? I like that ending more and more with each passing day. Funny that.

Visions. Voices. Hallucinations. Memories. Memories lapses. Reminiscences of a past which doesn’t begin to be understandable. Dreams that sound like experiences. Experiences which seem taken out of a dream. Surrealism. Hyper-realism.

And when the inquisitive man finally gets out of the cave… is he the wise man or is he the mad man? Will he ever be able to get back to what it used to be, to erase everything that came after that exact moment in which he began realizing there was something else, something more, something not quite right? Everything that used to be a major truth is losing its reliability. Every reference point is upside down. What to believe? What to trust? And the most important question: What is real here? What is an illusion?

Kind of creepy.

Amorea. I think it sounds like amor. Not only because of Mike and because of Sean. Sean and Mike. But because everything was lovely here. Most of the time, so much so. So much so to be true.

To be real.

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