My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A while back, I had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook version of “Cheating. Death” by Teel McClanahan. It was well-written, with a dark humor that worked for me. When I noted that the author had started releasing the books in an urban fantasy/science fantasy series entitled “Untrue Tales…” I decided to give it a shot.
When Trevor, a mildly popular teenager, manifests magical and psychical powers while fantasizing about one of his female schoolmates, he is brought to the attention of some rather powerful beings. So begins a series of events that will put him in danger as various factions attempt to kill or control him. He has to determine who he can trust whilst at the time making sense of new powers at the other-worldly academy he is recruited to.
To begin with, this story has a rather neat setting. Although he is brought to a magical academy after making contact with the extra-dimensional watchers, the magic system is more complicated than simply saying a few words and waving a wand about. This is explained in a rather entertaining way, adding character to the world he has to negotiate. And the psychic element also plays a major part throughout. The author does well to offer up various information in a logical and timely manner.
The characters each have their own unique personalities, their dialogue and inner thoughts offering great insight for the most part for their actions. I love the way that the action plays out as well, with the scenes relating to the rather odd rules for (magical) Dodgeball giving us a glimpse into some of the powers that Trevor’s fellow students possess whilst showing how little Trevor knows even after a mind meld.
Though we only get to see some of the machinations of the various factions with an interest in Trevor, the first book in the first trilogy is primarily focused on setting the stage for the various plans in motion. Some character motivations are left a mystery in the first book, offering the possible reveal of answers in future installments of the series. The last few chapters also finish with a major problem, giving us plenty of reason to continue on.
I almost forgot to mention that the descriptive has a lyrical quality to it, such beautiful use of language helps immerse us in the rather odd world that Trevor exists in. Even the grotesque and the ghastly seems wondrous because of how those sentences are comprised.
The rather neat setting offers opportunities galore for our protagonist Trevor, a rather likable figure that I found myself easily relating to. The author manages to construct a rather enjoyable first installment in what is certain to be a rather awesome series.