- Uncanny Collateral (Valkyrie Collections #1).
- Brian McClellan.
- 151 pages.
- Urban Fantasy.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
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 . . .
Uncanny Collateral is written in the first-person from the perspective of Alek Fitz, the lead reaper (debt collector) at Valkyrie Collections in Cleveland, a debt collection agency for the supernatural (Others).
As a reaper, Alek collects the debts owed to the clients of Valkyrie Collections. Mostly, he collects the souls of those who have sold them in deals (for things like fame, wealth, a new motorcycle, etc) and have reneged on the deal.
After his latest reaping, Alek is called into the office by his boss, Ada for a side job that needs to be handled discreetly so that it doesn’t get out to the wider world. Souls are going missing, being stolen from the Lords of Hell (who are like corporations that run soul trading businesses) and Death/Ferryman (who looks like Keith Richards and is likeable) wants Alek to find out who is stealing the souls, why they are stealing them and stop them.
Alek is a slave to his job, he is owned by Ada who purchased him as a child. He isn’t all human, he is part troll (he has retractable tusks and toughened skin) and a big muscled guy who has magically-infused tattoos and a variety of powers. When he gets into a fight the troll berserker in him unleashes making him one tough SOB who is more than capable of handling himself and laying the smackdown.
A few years ago, back when Alek was a younger and more naive reaper he put on a ring that he found in a debtor’s collection box and the ring. That ring can’t be removed from his finger and contains Maggie, an ancient Jinn who ended up trapped inside the ring that Alek wears and, who is now his partner, of sorts.
There is some backstory to Alek and you sympathise with both Alek and Maggie (her past remains mysterious) who are both in similar predicaments, one a slave to their job and the other trapped inside a ring.
Throughout the story, there is plenty of snarky banter (which is always a good thing). Some of the banter occurs between Alek and other characters. But, mostly, it is between Alek and Maggie and takes place in Alek’s head as they conduce back and forth bickering and conversations inside his mind.
The world is our world only there are supernatural creatures ‘Others‘ to go alongside the humans and there are a set of contracts, restrictions and rules that govern the two worlds and the dealings that they have with each other. Reaper agencies, like Valkyrie Collections, are the equivalent of debt collection agencies and deal with contract disputes maintaining the contractual balance between the humans and the Other. OtherOps are like the police force and handle all other Other related criminal activity and incidents that occur.
There’s some cool magic, some mystery, some twists, an array of fantastical creatures (shapeshifters, ghouls, imps, draugr, jinn, a retired angel and, of course, Death himself all make appearances with many others mentioned) that appear, some fantastic characters and a whole lot of exhilarating fighting found within the pages of Uncanny Collateral. The story closes off nicely but there are things hinted at, the past, secrets and threads left hanging for potential future books.
The pacing in Uncanny Collateral is fast, the story action-packed, high octane and tightly plotted with a protagonist that packs a mighty punch. Urban fantasy is a genre that I often tend to avoid as I don’t really enjoy it. However, I really enjoyed Uncanny Collateral, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, the story is easy to read, thoroughly bingeable and it is like a 150 page shot of adrenaline to the system, a wild ride and a hell of a lot of fun.
Purchase Uncanny Collateral (Valkyrie Collections #1).
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