It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.
So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie and small press authors newly published this month, though some July books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.
Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have urban fantasy, epic fantasy, portal fantasy, historical fantasy, gaslamp fantasy, YA fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, paranormal women’s fiction, dystopian noir, space opera, military science fiction, hopepunk, solarpunk, occult thrillers, horror, vampires, werewolves, dragons, fae, gargoyles, ghosts, space marines, aliens, superheroes, bounty hunters, mercenaries, crime-busting witches, spooky railroads, frozen citadels, living swords, satanic cults, shattered gods, supernatural circuses and much more.
Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.
As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.
And now on to the books without further ado:
It doesn’t matter what’s after you. The only thing that counts is who’s in your corner.
Bessie is just meant to be an ordinary journalist. Okay, she’s kinda scatty, bolshie, and has never backed down from a story – or a fight. But when a fight comes to her that could consume the whole city, there’s only one person she can turn to.
Xavier Kilmer is a ghost vampire. He’s also Bessie’s sworn enemy. The animosity isn’t mutual. Three years ago, he met her and sparks flew. Ever since, every paper in town has promised she’s his true mate.
But right now, all Bessie needs is a miracle. When a shadowy force called the Ghost King reaches through the dark to claim her as his bride, only Xavier can help. But all help comes at a cost.
The Frozen Citadel by Richard Blakemore and Cora Buhlert:
Before Kurval became King of Azakoria, he plied his trade as a wandering mercenary and sword for hire.
Kurval and his friend and fellow mercenary Tsabo are planning to take up service at the citadel of Harjula in the frozen north of the kingdom of Simola. But when they finally reach the citadel, they find it deserted, its inhabitants in the thrall of dark magic…
The new sword and sorcery adventure by two-time Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert and her occasional alter ego, 1930s pulp writer Richard Blakemore. This is a short story of 5900 words or approx. 22 print pages in the Kurval sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.
Broken by Magic by Lindsay Buroker:
Even before our heroes discovered a portal to other realms, Jak Freedar wanted to seek out powerful allies to help overthrow the tyrannical wizard rulers of his home world. Instead, he chanced across a dragon egg and is now the surrogate father of a hatchling.
Since he found the egg, taking care of the young dragon is his responsibility. Even as King Uthari forces the team to prepare for another mission, Jak must do his best not only to care for the hatchling but to keep it safe from those who want to use it for their own gain.
As he soon learns, it’s not only the wizards of his own world who would love to control a dragon. It turns out that powerful enemies in other realms want a hatchling too. And they’re willing to kill for it.
A desperate Fayte Guardian trapped in a distant world. A ruthless fae queen craving revenge. Can justice prevail in this dangerous clash of wills and dark magic?
Ripped from her world and her Fayte Guardian friends, Jane Shackle finds herself captive to a vengeful queen in a strange, otherworldly realm filled with mythical creatures, dangerous magic, and shocking clues to the secrets in her past.
When an old ally comes to her rescue, Jane discovers redemption for her past wrongs may be within reach—until a bittersweet revelation changes everything. Since her life isn’t the only one hanging in the balance, Jane must forge new alliances and fight harder than ever to survive and protect those she loves.
Can she defeat her powerful enemy and find a way back to her own world where true love awaits, or will the fight follow her home and destroy everything she holds dear?
SHADOW RITE is the final episode in The Queen’s Fayte trilogy, a thrilling dark fantasy adventure that weaves captivating mystery into the hidden corners of history to keep you spellbound. If you like clever heroines, ruthless villains, and a slow-burn romance tangled up in the Victorian world, then you’ll love this enchanting series from best-selling author D.D. Croix!
Railroad Tales, edited by Trevor Denyer:
Have you ever been on a train going to a destination you don’t want to reach? What about a train travelling through the night, where you are the only passenger in the carriage? Or maybe standing alone on a platform, waiting for a train you hope will come?
Have you ever wondered about the history behind a train journey, or a station? How many people have travelled the line, or died during its construction?
Has a shiver ever run up your spine as dead leaves scrape across the platform, propelled by a breath of wind on a quiet night? Have you ever wondered whether what you heard was a sigh, or a whisper, or just your imagination?
There are many stories involving railroads, trains, stations, junctions and crossings. Stories about people journeying towards unknown futures that may involve life changing events, or death, or revelations.
The 23 stories in this anthology play upon those fears and uncertainties. Each one explores the journeys we might take into horrific, supernatural or extraordinary futures. Guilt, unresolved desires and disbelief all play their part in creating vivid and disturbing nightmares from which there is no escape, or from which a frightening lesson is learned.
The train awaits, ready to carry you along tracks that disappear into darkness. Somewhere out there are the horrors that we all imagine and hope will never happen.
Enjoy the journey…
As it turns out, being a masked, superpowered vigilante isn’t entirely legal. Who knew?
When a critically ill teenager with powers disappears, part-time superhero and full-time trouble magnet Zita Garcia is on the case. Unfortunately, the girl isn’t the only person to have disappeared, and the culprit isn’t a mystery. It’s a conspiracy.
A shadowy government agency has escalated from irritating robocalls to the obvious next steps, kidnapping and murder. If an intolerant new party can use rising anti-metahuman sentiment to win an upcoming election, their actions might not even be a crime. All Zita and her friends have to do is save the missing and avoid the bad publicity of doing something stupid that would tip the delicate political situation the wrong way…
Party is the sixth in the Arca superhero urban fantasy series and contains lame sexual innuendo, immoderate language, and comic book violence.
In New Babylon, leader of the Western alliance of the city-states, armament mogul Kurt Wagner has a secret dream: to build a space station to save mankind. Little does he know that he is the target of competing plots involving geopolitics and black magick. In the background, a film director with a political conscience, a bodyguard with a secret mission, a driver with an occult hobby and a talking bird are trying to make sense of their world, hoping to see their wishes come true – which they will, but not in the way they might have expected.
Fated to destroy the world. Determined to save it.
My name is Xal and I live in the dims, a walled prison where my people are kept by our cruel masters, until we are needed to fight once more. One member of every family must answer The Call, for our blood bears the magic of a demonic god, and all the terrible power that brings.
We march to war against the Fomori, an unstoppable army of giants, and their behemoths. If we do not, then our families are put to death. The Hasrans use us as cannon fodder, and worse. They used up my father, and he never came home. Die resisting. Die fighting. My choice isn’t if it happens, but rather how I sell my life.
If by some miracle I survive I will be granted entrance to the Imperial Academy, where every noble house will vie to architect my end. They cannot allow the void-blooded to live. They cannot allow us to thrive, or to gain more magic from the bodies of other dead gods. They cannot allow us to win. They fear the rise of another dreadlord. And they are right to fear. I will pull down an empire, and that is just the beginning.
My Brew Heaven by Lily Harper Hart:
Ofelia Archer should be riding high after a blissful week spent with her boyfriend Zacharias “Zach” Sully. Sun, fun, and cocktails make for a great break … until she gets home. Then she realizes exactly how far things can fall apart in only a few days.
It seems in her absence Ofelia’s mother Marie Charles has been taken in by a cult, and Ofelia is convinced it’s not the sort of group who worship beignets over chaos and bloodshed. When Ofelia tries talking to her mother she finds a different woman waiting for her … and she’s beyond concerned.
The French Quarter attracts weird people but this time the strife is different. When she starts digging, she finds more than she bargained for … and yet the answers are less than she was hoping for.
Ofelia is a witch with a plan but even she’s at a loss. When her brother Felix is hurt in the pursuit of reclaiming Marie, the Quarter’s favorite magical maven swears revenge … and she’s going to need Sully to help her deliver it.
Their new enemy is powerful and he’s hiding behind a gaggle of innocent humans. Freeing the French Quarter from his grip leads Ofelia down a dark path. Only Sully can help her … and together they will bring their city back from the brink.
The question is: Will they both survive to enjoy the fruits of their labor once they make it to the other side?
Becoming Crone by Lydia M. Hawke:
She wanted purpose. She got dark magic and war.
Claire Emerson is adrift. After a lifetime as a wife, mother, and grandma, she never saw divorce or loneliness coming and is desperate for some sense of purpose. But when her sixtieth birthday brings a snarky gargoyle, an annoyingly sexy wolf shifter, and an unknown magical calling, she thinks she’s losing the only thing she has left: her sanity.
Refusing to believe she’s the powerful defender of humankind her so-called protectors claim, Claire attempts a return to her safe life… only to have her powers ignite when she’s attacked by dark supernatural creatures. And without the training she was supposed to have received, she has no idea how she’ll defeat sinister mages plotting her demise.
Can Claire overcome creaky joints and major hot flashes in time to save the world – and her own life?
Becoming Crone is the page-turning first book in The Crone Wars paranormal women’s fiction series. If you like spunky heroines, snappy banter, and triumphing over self-doubt, then you’ll love this ageless adventure.
The Living Sword 3: The Burden of Legacy by Pemry Janes:
Leraine has finally returned home, but the welcome is not as she imagined it. Tension is rising within the Mochedan Federation as many advocate for an end to the long peace and a return to the glory of war.
She sets off to the most important festival of the Mochedan, hoping to preserve the peace for at least a little while longer. Eurik joins her, to help his friend and to finally find the answers about his parents he’s been chasing since he left the island.
What they find is theft, murder, and a conspiracy to end their world.
Sons of Brutality by Daneil Jeudy:
A SATANIC SNUFF CLUB
A RUTHLESS VIGILANTE
AN INTRICATE WEB OF DECEPTION
WHO CAN YOU TRUST?
Los Angeles is a city under siege.
When Detective Addison Mowbray begins investigating the murders of two young women in the Hollywood Hills, he can’t imagine where the case will lead. He suspects the crimes were inspired by an occult fascination, due to some missing body parts and the inverted Christian cross branded on the victims’ breasts. But apart from Addison’s temperamental partner, Jed, the only other person keen on them pursuing that line of investigation is Lilly Coniglio, a medical examiner from the Coroner’s Department. The LAPD is already under immense public pressure due to all the bad press another killer – a vigilante – has brought to their door: it’s been over a year since the first organized-crime figure showed up full of holes, with a plastic police badge beside his body.
As Addison and Jed navigate a murky, disturbing occult landscape in search of answers, they uncover something even more terrifying than a killer hiding in the shadows: an organization so vile and powerful that it changes their lives forever. These two troubled detectives are all that stand between this organization and a spectacular season of carnage.
Set against a backdrop of urban bleakness and social inequality, Sons of Brutality combines deeply flawed protagonists with human monsters, integrating strong dialogue, violent action and gripping Suspense.
Freaky Gifts by Amanda M. Lee:
Winter break is upon Mystic Caravan, which is supposed to mean a full month of rest and relaxation. Upon arriving at their destination, however, Poet and company find that murder isn’t far behind.
Their off-season park is full of paranormals – something that normally makes Poet comfortable – but the death of a local girl points to one of their own being the culprit. Even though she’s supposed to be taking it easy, Poet can’t stop herself from digging … and it leads her on a wild ride.
Florida is hot, humid and bursting at the seams with supernatural friends. Unfortunately for Poet, it’s also home to an ex-boyfriend who can’t quite let go. Since he’s a police officer … and looking at Mystic Caravan’s cadre of weirdos as potential murder suspects … that only makes things all the more difficult.
It’s up to Poet to find the real culprit even as a shadowy and powerful figure stalks her. Kade’s magic is growing but he’s still learning, which makes for some hard battles. On top of that, he’s keeping a secret with Luke, which has Poet teetering on the edge of sanity.
It’s supposed to be a break, not a break from reality, but Poet is ready to fight for her future. It’s going to take everybody working together to figure out the truth … and give Poet the one thing she’s always wanted above all else.
Over the years, Connor has pieced together evidence of a mysterious group of aliens who roamed the multiverse and have been to New Earth.
Setting off to make new discoveries about them is straightforward enough, but this is New Earth, and Connor Gates has a knack for finding trouble.
For over twenty years, Connor and Diaz have been friends. They’ve survived two wars and have seen the best and the worst of each other. When a terrorist attack takes the life of Diaz’s son, their friendship will be pushed to the breaking point.
To find who is responsible, Diaz is willing to cross as many lines as it takes. Connor will do everything he can to protect his friend, even from himself. It’ll take everything he’s got to find who is responsible while preserving a peaceful coexistence with New Earth’s inhabitants.
Sometimes protecting your friends is a lot tougher than fighting your enemies.
The Raven Thief by Ashley Olivier:
Enya has a few very simple goals in life.
Take down a tyrannical king, give her gang a decent life, become the leader of Skeyya’s rebellion, and maybe become slightly more rich along the way.
Okay, so maybe those goals aren’t so simple. And everything comes at a cost in the capital streets of Arden; King Eamon is after her head, and shadows lurk around every corner, waiting to spill secrets and blood.
After being captured and sentenced to death in the esteemed royal palace, Enya never expected to run into three princes who need her help—and especially not ones thought to be dead for over a decade. An impossible quest is proposed; an ancient evil is rising, and only they can stop it. The Crimson Witch, a faerie demon imprisoned in the Black Lake, along with her undead army of ghouls.
Enya has now found herself caught in a web of darkness and deceit as she guides these princes and her right-hand man, Carson, on a journey to track down the magical artifacts needed to take down the Crimson Witch once and for all.
Love, friendship, and bravery will all be tested. Can three princes and a thief save the world?
Ryan Hendrix is dead…
…Or so his family, his girlfriend, and his fellow Marines think.
Terribly wounded during the battle for Hermes, Ryan Hendrix was repaired with cybernetics, transformed into a weapon by Fleet Intelligence…and covertly dropped onto the enemy-occupied colony at Aphrodite to sabotage the enemy and build up a civilian resistance.
While Ryan fights the real battle behind enemy lines, Travis Miller and Jessica Leer struggle with politics…and their new commands. The Earth government is too scared of losing more cruisers to try to take back the occupied colonies, so Travis and Jessica find themselves stuck raiding enemy outposts, trying to draw their attention away so Ryan and the rest of his commandos can do their job.
But Travis Miller didn’t get to be the head of the largest task force in human history by sitting back and doing what he’s told. And when one of those raids turns up key intelligence, Travis will do whatever he has to in order to get back in the real fight.
Tales of Fál by Kyle Alexander Romines:
Welcome to the world of Fál.
A murderous outlaw confronts his past.
A princess has a monster at her mercy.
A desperate woman turns to a dark sorcerer for help.
A young magician learns to follow her heart.
An aging warrior makes his last stand.
Dive into a new fantasy world full of monsters and magic in the Tales of Fál, featuring over 500 pages of stories of heroes, villains, and everything in between.
An offer that no one else could match
A mission that no one else could achieve
An enemy only a few know they share…
Commodore Kira Demirci is now the commander of a small but powerful mercenary force—one of the most dangerous in the cluster of stars she now calls home. Her own actions have brought peace to the Syntactic Cluster, though, and a mercenary is in limited demand.
A mutual interest brings her into the circle of the heir to the Royal Crest, a wealthy kingdom dozens of light-years away. Jade Panosyan has a nightmare brewing—and a plan to deal with it.
In the Crest, a powerful political party beholden to Kira’s own enemies is maneuvering to remove Jade’s father before he can free a dozen star systems from the clutches of the Equilibrium Institute. If they are to fail and the Institute’s plans be thwarted once more, Jade Panosyan needs someone to complete an impossible mission.
The payment? The fleet carrier Fortitude, unmatched by any ship within a hundred light-years.
The catch? Kira Demirci has to capture the carrier—from the elite forces of her employer’s nation!
Metal Warrior: Fist of Steel by James David Victor:
Sometimes, your only option is to surrender to a higher power. Of course, that option usually isn’t very good either.
A military sci-fi adventure from Amazon All-Star author James David Victor
Humanity is in shambles and its defenses have been destroyed. With no other apparent options, the Council of Worlds decides to seek peace with the Exin. Sure that this can come to no good, Dane Williams and the remaining metal warriors set out on a desperate mission to make peace the only way that will truly work. To put an end to the Exin threat once and for all. Can Dane stop the unstoppable alien force or is humanity truly doomed?
Metal Warrior: Fist of Steel is the last book in the Mech Fighter series. If you like fast-paced space adventures with engaging characters and exciting battles, you will definitely want to see how the Metal Warriors save mankind, or if they can.
In a lush solarpunk future, plants have stripped most of the poison from the air and bounty hunters keep resource hoarders in check. Orfeus only wants to be a travelling singer, famed and adored. She has her share of secrets, but she’s no energy criminal, so why does a bounty hunter want her dead? Not just any bounty hunter but the Wolf, most fearsome of all the Order of the Vengeful Wild. Orfeus will call in every favor she has to find out, seeking answers while clinging to her pride and fending off the hunters of the Wild. But she isn’t the only one at risk: every misstep endangers the enemies she turns into allies, and the allies she brings into danger. There are worse monsters than the Wolf hiding in this new green world.
“It’s an inclusive, optimistic vision of the future, rounded out by beautiful imagery and an effortlessly diverse cast. This enthralling story is a winner.” Publishers weekly (starred review)