Author: T.J. Land
Length: 117 Pages
Category: Fantasy, Action/Adventure
At a Glance: Amazing superhero/villain novella with a bigender character and some delightful villains you’re going to love rather than hate.
Blurb: Worst thing about being a supervillain? Getting your butt handed to you by caped do-gooders. Best thing about being a supervillain? Getting your hands on caped do-gooders’ butts. Heh.
Red Velvet and his two partners in crime – super-strong beefcake Ares and proud degenerate the Electric Eel – are the League of Larceny, the most notorious gang in town. They’ve been together in every sense of the word for years, and these days everyone knows better than to mess with them. Which is why they’re surprised to have their weekly heist interrupted by a rookie hero.
His costume is hideous. His banter is corny. His body is amazing. He’s Mister Valiant and he’s here to save the day. Or if not, then at least he might prove to be an amusing distraction for a few bored bad guys…
Review: Confession time: When I was told this book was up for grabs to review, I didn’t even read the blurb. I just saw the name T.J. Land and snatched it. I knew it was self-published, and I knew it was about superheroes. That’s it. So, imagine my utter delight—though not my surprise—that this book turned out to be absolutely fantastic. Over the last several months I have been reading the Adrift series, by the same author, and loving them. Land is able to craft many complex, unique characters, and not a single one gets lost on the page.
The Amateur is no different. While not part of the Adrift series, it is still crafted with the same level of mastery Land has shown in previous books. Each character stands apart from the rest and is utterly unique in style, tone, and characterization. This novella is about superheroes and villains. I loved the League of Larceny and the setup of the world. As an anime fan, it reminded me a little bit of Tiger & Bunny, a Japanese series about a city with superheroes who compete for ranking with sponsorship. While different, there are some vaguely similar elements. The heroes and villains get points for achieving certain things. This isn’t explored in too much detail, however, but is mentioned briefly by one of the characters.
The League of Larceny is a group of supervillains named Red Velvet, Electric Eel, and Ares. I loved each of them. Ares is the leader of the group, Red is the serious yet enigmatic member, and Eel is the goofy one. He has some seriously different…ways of entertaining himself? I don’t want to give it away, but as strange as he was, I loved him.
Then there is the hero: Mister Valiant. He’s a newbie, very young, and pretty awkward. After attempting to stop the League from a heist, he offers them a deal they can’t refuse. And so begins a bizarre alliance and friendship between villains and their hero.
I don’t want to give too much away, as I feel that the story was so delightful in its reveal. One character is bigender, which I was thrilled to discover through the course of the story. If you have read T.J. Land before, this won’t come as a surprise that the author includes all members of the LGBT community in the story. This character was well developed and incredibly complex. The feelings the others had towards this person were also genuine and so beautifully written that I felt as if they were all very real people I could get to know.
Fans of T.J. Land should not miss this book. I truly hope there is a sequel because I would love to see more from the League and Mister Valiant, as well as Lion Man and the other heroes. What other shenanigans could they get themselves up to? What other threats could arise? What other ways could Eel attempt to seduce everyone? More, please!
You can buy The Amateur here: