Review: Uncanny Collateral (Valkyrie Collections #1) by Brian McClellan

Rating: ★★★★☆

Synopsis

Alek Fitz is a reaper, a collection agent who works for the supernatural elements of the world, tracking down debtors and solving problems for clients as diverse as the Lords of Hell, vampires, Haitian loa, and goblins. He’s even worked for the Tooth Fairy on occasion. Based out of Cleveland, Ohio, Alek is the best in the game. As a literal slave to his job, he doesn’t have a choice.

When Death comes looking for someone to track down a thief, Alek is flung into a mess of vengeful undead, supernatural bureaucracy, and a fledgling imp war. As the consequences of failure become dire, he has few leads, and the clock is ticking. Only with the help of his friend Maggie—an ancient djinn with a complex past—can he hope to recover the stolen property, save the world, and just maybe wring a favor out of the Great Constant himself.

It’s a hell of a job, but somebody’s got to do it . . .

Review

Thanks to the author for an advance reading copy of Uncanny Collateral (Valkyrie Collections #1) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this eARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novella.

Uncanny Collateral is yet another stunning piece of fiction from one of the best fantasy authors in the biz. How McClellan is able to fit so much story, action, and character development in such a short piece is simply astounding. Valkyrie Collections is definitely one that needs to be on the top of your Urban Fantasy TBR and Wishlist. Djinns, imps, necromancers, death himself, and second-hand souls all come clashing together in this urban fantasy novella set in the bowels of Cleveland, OH.

I have been a fan of the author’s works for quite a while, starting with the Powder Mage books and here recently with his Tor.com release, War Cry. To say his jump to Urban Fantasy this go round was a dramatic one is an overstatement as his previous novels deal with magic in a somewhat urban setting, though nothing quite like Cleveland. But one thing I keep thinking about is that this novella wasn’t immediately picked up by a publisher and that is sort of a head-scratcher. McClellan has a history of being able to sell books and at a nice pace, but maybe it was just a decision to self-pub something he had been working on outside of his contractual obligations. I digress.

While this story is a short one at around 151 pages (a little over 5 hours via audio), it packs a heck of a wallop and is one that shouldn’t be missed. The main characters of Fitz and Maggie are a fantastic duo, and to see their back and forth throughout the novella feels like a run of the mill cop drama with a magical flare. The situations they continue to find themselves in lead to consistent page turning and a quick race to the end, leaving you wanting the sequel as the last sentence is read. Several fight scenes, entertaining characters, and an original storyline provide plenty to wet your appetite.

This is one that will entertain any fantasy lover out there, but especially the urban snobs that enjoyed Butcher’s Harry Dresden or McHugh’s Nate Garrett. Uncanny Collateral gave me Grim Fandango meets Bill Willingham’s Fables vibes, which puts this series right up my alley. I recommend you give this one a try. I think you’ll like it.

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