Book Review: Uncanny Collateral – by Brian McClellan

Valkyrie Collections #1

Urban Fantasy

April 2, 2019

151 pages (ebook)

3.5 / 5 ✪

I purchased this directly from Brian McClellan, via his website, during his summer sale. I think it was… sub-$4-something? Anyway, hence the lack of a publisher above.

Uncanny Collateral is a decent yet wildly entertaining urban fantasy set in a completely unbelievable world. I really enjoyed the adventure, and had absolutely no problem reading it—but if McClellan was going for a realistic earth urban fantasy… it was a wide miss.

Alek Fitz is a reaper, a soul collection agent that works for a supernatural company that freelances on behalf of the Lords of Hell. Mostly he collects upon deals made with the Lords—souls sold for wealth, fame or power. Based out of Cleveland, he is in the midst of the supernatural, with all manner of loa, vampires, imps, trolls, and whatnot inhabiting the world around him. Despite being a literal slave to his owner, Ada, he seems to enjoy his job, or at least has come to terms with it.

When Alek is assigned a case from Death, however, it seems the terms have changed.

To find what Death seeks he must rely upon an imprisoned Jinn, a handful of somewhat-friends and tentative allies, but mostly his own intelligence, skill and instinct. And meanwhile, someone’s trying to kill him and steal away his closest friend—something Alek is less than keen on.

As I mentioned before, I had no problem reading this. It was good: entertaining, interesting, action-packed. Also, it wasn’t realistic.

You see a lot in Urban Fantasy, but mostly magical worlds that exist alongside our own—with us non-magical folk none the wiser. To this end, many series have Pacts, secrets, whatever to protect our world from theirs. Uncanny Collateral uses a secret government agency to keep the worlds separate. Except, the secret agency isn’t that… secret? Also, it seems like the author did next to no research into how agencies, police, whatever work. So it’s like, a thing that everyone takes for granted even though it’s loose as heck.

I could go on about it, but sufficient to say: the story is solid, the world-building is not. But so long as you don’t question it too much (it’s only a 150 page story, after all) there’s no problem. Uncanny Collateral is fun and exciting, somewhat interesting, but not deep, nor realistic.

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