Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for October 2021

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
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 September 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, science fantasy, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, YA science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, science fiction romance, fantasy romance, time travel romance, gothic romance, LitRPG, historical horror, zombies, aliens, shapehshifters, climate change, virtual reality,  assassins, paladins, sellswords, Pluto, Puritan witch hunters, crime-busting witches, crime-busting skeletons, Oz revisited 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:

An Old Man's Journey by Gregory AllantherAn Old Man’s Journey by Gregory Allanther:

At the end of his life, Charles was left with one question: What was it all for?

After his tour of duty and an unremarkable post-Army business career, Charles spent his twilight years watching old movies and waiting for his grandkids to call. He’d lived a good life, been a decent man, but now that his wife was gone he was… Lonely.

Until his old friend Bert introduced him to Crossroads, the new VR sensation. In this virtual world he can move without pain, explore new lands, and most importantly – see his family again. For as long as he can hold their interest, in this fast-paced modern world of instant gratification and VR thrills.

The solution: Build a place his family wants to visit. Armed only with a magic stick with game-breaking powers that should be nerfed, Charles sets out on a journey to find a place to call his own. Along the way, he will be mistaken for an NPC quest giver, become the antagonist in epic questlines, and attempt to teach the next generation proper behavior – even if he has to beat it into them.

This is the story of one man’s search for belonging in his second virtual life. A search for a place to belong, and what it takes to get there. It’s also a hilarious romp through online fantasy cliches that will appeal to fans of Ready Player One, The Wandering Inn, and slice-of-life comedies.

Because at the end of a man’s life: What’s more important than family?

The Emerald Republic by J.D. AndersonThe Emerald Republic by J.D. Anderson:

When a teen from Kansas is chosen as the king in a world filled with fantastic cities and extraordinary creatures, some of his ideas don’t go over well. Now he faces a divided Emerald City, a rebellion and the threat of a new Witch – and he’s doing everything he can to fight back.

As the situation in Oz grows desperate, Roy’s friends and family face a dire situation of their own: booze, lies, and an emerging war in 1930’s Europe, in the world Roy left behind.

Join Roy and the talking trees and hotheaded munchkins of Oz on a hilarious and thrilling quest to return the Emerald City to its former glory, by any means necessary…

A Deadly Winter by Kody BoyeA Deadly Winter by Kody Boye:

The last word my mother ever said to me was, “Go.”

That was after I’d escaped the initial outbreak at my school. After I managed to find my mother and make my way home. After I thought I was safe.

But when my mother is bitten by a zombie, and I am forced to flee into the apocalyptic wasteland of South Texas, I find that survival means more than just being able to be strong. It’s about building bridges. Making connections. Finding friends. But will those friends help me save my life?

The Witchfinder's Apprentice by Cora BuhlertThe Witchfinder’s Apprentice by Cora Buhlert:

Massachusetts in the Year of the Lord 1695: Matthew Goodson, eighteen years of age, is apprenticed to a team of experienced witchfinders, who travel from village to village and town to town to uncover witchcraft, examine the evidence, interrogate suspects and stamp out evil.

When a wave of mysterious illnesses and deaths hits the town of Redemption, the witchfinders are called in and quickly arrest a suspect, a teenaged girl named Grace Pankhurst.

Matthew has long been having his doubts about the witchfinders and the righteousness of their mission. The interrogation of Grace brings those doubts to a flashpoint. But is Grace truly innocent or has Matthew fallen under the spell of a comely witch?

This is a historical horror story of 5500 words or approximately 20 print pages by two-time Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert.

Remnants, edited by Stephen CoghlanRemnants, edited by Stephen Coghlan:

Strange clouds on the horizon herald the coming of the swarm. The undulating masses of the horde cannot be stopped. Terrifying creatures roam the Earth, seemingly with no aim but to devour all that stands before them. Experience the end of the world as we know it with these seventeen tales of horror, survival, and hope. The world ends in a frenzy of death and miasma of terror, but what will become of the remnants of humanity?

Seventeen tales of post-apocalyptic survival horror!

 

Magnitude by Dean M. ColeMagnitude by Dean M. Cole:

A team of military special operators. A lost race of advanced beings. An invading swarm of land-hungry sentient robots.

An elite team of SAS special operators battle across the multiverse after a plague of land-hungry sentient robots invade today’s Earth. But, when an aircraft carrier-based counterattack goes horribly wrong, it traps the team in an alien universe with a top-secret group who’ve already saved the world twice. After discovering a dark plot that threatens humanity’s very existence, the two groups jump into action, fighting both on the surface and in orbit in a last-ditch effort to stop the enemy before time runs out.

With the fate of two Earths hanging in the balance, the combined teams must pull a lost race of advanced beings off history’s scrapheap, or humanity will join them in oblivion.

Magnitude combines sleek starships, strange aliens, and high-tech weaponry to pit heroes, zeroes, and a smart-assed battlebot against powerful enemies

Auntie Mags by Kate DanleyAuntie Mags by Kate Danley:

Maggie’s a now an auntie and ready to show this new nugget all the awesomeness of being a World Walker. But when the child is kidnapped as part of an ancient prophecy, Maggie and Killian must save the kid before nap time means a permanent sleep. The creatures of the Other Side are about to get a hands-on lesson in why you don’t mess with the MacKay girls.

 

 

Itinerant by Marco de HooghItinerant by Marco de Hoogh:

A storm is coming. There is no escape…

It is a time of discovery, as our heroes venture forth on expeditions.

General Theodore Davies rushes to meet an ally, but will it be for naught? Olympus is but a shell, ready to be crushed under the heel of Rosae Crucis. The enemy is at the gates.

John Miller leads a team in search of answers. He knows the coordinates of his goal but doesn’t know if they will make it to their destination and back, or what they will even find.

New characters step out of the shadow and into the light. Their stories are told, and revelations made. What are the things that link them together? A mosaic is slowly being laid; Tile by tile.

In the meantime, the undead continue their mission. They snuff out all life that they find. They heed the call of the collective. They mass together, forming a tide that will wash over the living.

Now they come.

Follow along as events unfold in Itinerant, the third volume in Apocalypsis Immortuos

Legacy of Seven by P.J. FlieLegacy of Seven by P.J. Flie:

A world filled with magic, wizards and, enchanted beings—or the ashes of a highly advanced civilization?
The truth is much more complicated.

Zairoc, a dark wizard

Sir Francis, a benevolent wizard

Trick Mark, captain of the guard

and the construction robot CD-45.

Their destinies will collide at the city of Bastion. But concealed from everyone, a young woman holds the key to each of their fates.

Ondreeal has lived her whole life on the farm with her callous adoptive father. She longs to see the world and witness for herself the magical wonders that fill it—and she’ll soon get her wish, thrust into an adventure that carries her to heights she never dreamed possible, and to the depths of despair and loneliness. Ondreeal can never become the hero the world wants her to be.

But will she become the hero it needs?

No Bones About It by Rachel FordNo Bones About It by Rachel Ford:

He’s a skeleton who used to be a cop. I’m a Freak who used to be a detective. Together, we’re going to find the woman I love.

Technically, the PD hasn’t fired me yet. But when my girlfriend, the star witness in the biggest embezzlement case in a century, went missing, I stepped on some toes. And maybe busted a senior detective’s nose.

He had it coming. He’s hiding something. I’m going to find out what, and I’m going to find my fiancée. But I can’t do it alone.

In a world of magic and undead beings, Normies avoid Freaks like me like the plague. Our magic terrifies them.

But there’s one place I know I can turn to find the help I need: the undead. So here I am, trusting the fate of my career and the love of my life to the bony hands of a 150 year old undead investigator.

And that’s a recipe for disaster. No bones about it.

Love Sickness by Rachel FordLove Sickness by Rachel Ford:

A mysterious newcomer. Strange new infatuations. A cursed treasure.

A beautiful stranger arrives in Little Eerie asking questions about an ancient treasure. The jarl is smitten at first sight. He’s sick with love for her.

But when she doesn’t even recognize him the next day, Apprentice Wizard Idun Wintermoon knows there’s some kind of sorcery at play.

As more people succumb to the love sickness, Idun and the sellsword Liss Forlatt are in a race against time to find the culprit – and discover what her real motives are. Before she unleashes a curse on the jarldom that’ll make love sickness seem like a minor inconvenience.

The Ghoul, the Bad and the Ugly by Lily Harper HartThe Ghoul, the Bad and the Ugly by Lily Harper Hart:

Zombies in Casper Creek? Say it ain’t so. Unfortunately, it looks to be true … and Hannah Hickok and her motley crew of helpers have a mess on their hands.

As Cooper Wyatt struggles with the perfect way to propose, his girlfriend is buried in zombie lore … and seemingly having a good time digging up solutions.

The bodies are rising from two different cemeteries, one so old it hasn’t seen a new resident in thirty years. Why, though?

Needing help, Lindy suggests her brother David join the team. He’s a paranormal investigator, and he has an interesting set of skills. He also seems to be sparking with animal wrangler Tyler James, which has all the women in a tizzy in an effort to help him make the ultimate connection.
Love is in the air. Zombies are on the streets. Trouble is afoot.

It’s a normal day in Casper Creek, but the stakes are ratcheting up. Hannah’s magic is off the charts, but this time the monsters she’s facing are like nothing she’s ever seen.

Death may be stalking Hannah but she’s not afraid to stand her ground. Survival isn’t a given, but if she makes it through to the end, Cooper has a surprise for both of them.

Poisonous Paws by CeeCee JamesPoisonous Paws by CeeCee James:

Murder can reach out and touch you when you least expect it.

The mysterious death of a town founder rocks the Thornberry Estate. Miss Janice is the main suspect and everyone is up at arms. How was she to know the truce she formed with her neighbor put the target squarely on her? Coupled with a strange box that shows up out of nowhere and filled with bizarre things beyond imagination, and strange footsteps at night has everyone anxious.

…then there’s the bit of the skeleton in the closet. Literally.

The book club group is determined to discover who the real culprit is, and who is sending them disturbing messages. Especially since no one is supposed to know the club exists.

Little do they know, that’s only the beginning of their problems.

If you like cozy mysteries with all the feels, good friendships, giggles and snorts, you’ll love this heartwarming series.

Emanations: When a Planet Was a Planet, edited by Carter KaplanEmanations: When a Planet Was a Planet, edited by Carter Kaplan:

The ninth volume of the critically acclaimed Emanations literary anthology series, Emanations: When a Planet was a Planet presents stunning new art, illustrations and writing from around the world. The forty-two contributors represent South Korea, Canada, India, Oman, France, Nigeria, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Germany, Spain, the Philippines, Sweden, Japan and the United States. Comprising a broad range of graphic and literary expressions, this new volume wonderfully sustains International Authors’ commitment to innovation and experimentation, with unusual visual pieces, intriguing artists’ statements, idiosyncratic memoirs, dynamic poetical constructions and cutting-edge speculative fiction.

Published by International Authors.

A Dark Dawn by Ralph KernA Dark Dawn by Ralph Kern:

Far from the fury of The Great War, the citizens of the Liberty Federation live in peace and prosperity.

The Dawn Empire’s light is fading. Admiral Ikson Koto has one chance to renew the flame before it is extinguished forever. To save the Empire from a slow death, he must destroy the Federation’s fleet in one fell swoop. His plan calls for a brutality that has never been seen before.

For Lieutenant Shannon Reeve, the horrors of battle still burn strong in her mind. Her posting to a fighter squadron in the paradise of the Federation’s premier base, Azure Anchorage, should be a welcome respite. Instead, she will witness her fears come true as it comes under a relentless assault by Koto’s overwhelming Imperial forces.

Deep in the expanse of space known as the Great Void, a place far from home, civilian engineer Winston Grant has been tasked with upgrading a lonely base’s defences. Soon, he will find himself holding the line in a desperate last stand against an armada.

Both will play their parts in these darkest of days.

The golden age of the Federation will soon end, and instead be engulfed in the raging fire of war as Koto’s grand plan comes to fruition.

Paladin's Hope by T. KingfisherPaladin’s Hope by T. Kingfisher:

Piper is a lich-doctor, a physician who works among the dead, determining causes of death for the city guard’s investigations. It’s a peaceful, if solitary profession…until the day when he’s called to the river to examine the latest in a series of mysterious bodies, mangled by some unknown force.

Galen is a paladin of a dead god, lost to holiness and no longer entirely sane. He has long since given up on any hope of love. But when the two men and a brave gnole constable are drawn into the maze of the mysterious killer, it’s Galen’s job to protect Piper from the traps that await them.

He’s just not sure if he can protect Piper from the most dangerous threat of all…

Nostalgia is Heartless by Sarah LaheyNostalgia is Heartless by Sarah Lahey:

Earth, 2050. Pregnant, unemployed, and living back home with her father, climate scientist Quinn Buyers wonders how she got to this point in her life. Her famous scientist mother is mysteriously missing, the planet is at risk from a massive solar storm, the Transhumans want to take a colony to Titan, and her assisted living companion, a robotic meerkat, is showing clear signs of anxiety and depression. But her biggest challenge is her partner. How can she reconcile her long-distance relationship with this reserved, enigmatic cyborg?

The sequel to Sarah Lahey’s debut novel and the second book in the Heartless Series, Nostalgia is Heartless delves into the world of near future, exploring a society on the brink of climate catastrophe.

Warlord of Ackbarr by Erme LanderWarlord of Ackbarr by Erme Lander:

“You can’t just invade, they’ll have men with crossbows looking out for you. They use poisoned arrows, they can fell your outriders in seconds.”

Cassai has managed the unthinkable by killing thousands and Ackbarr can no longer ignore the tiny country defying them. Mika must make a choice who she stands with – her adopted country or the homeland who expelled her as an animal. In the meanwhile, her grip on the human world is sliding…

The Medici Chronicles follows Mika through nearly twenty years of her life as she disguises herself as a boy to survive, learns to become a Medici and struggles to find where she belongs.

Follow the Crumbs by Amanda M. LeeFollow the Crumbs by Amanda M. Lee:

There’s a prominent threat on the block … and he might just be sharing Stormy Morgan’s roof.

She’s a new witch but she has a big problem … and it talks. Her new roommate Krankle may look cute but he’s a huge pain in her posterior. He’s also hiding something. Before she can focus on that, however, the unthinkable happens.

On the highway leading out of town, three vehicles are involved in an accident. One belongs to Harold Lautner, the former head of the senior center who went missing months before. He was presumed dead in a hunting accident, but now the truck he was driving at the time he fell off the face of the earth is front and center … and emergency crews say there’s nobody to save inside.

Hunter Ryan, Stormy’s boyfriend and a police officer in Shadow Hills, is chasing lead after lead but they’re going nowhere … and then things get worse.

A magical shadow, the type Stormy isn’t ready to fight, is taking over the town. The Winchester witches, who are eager to help, can’t offer much in the way of aid because their magic is being affected by the shadow. That leaves Stormy to solve things, and she has no idea how to do it.

Stormy is eager to learn but the curve is steep. Alone, she knows she will fail. That means her new friends have to pitch in and help … including Krankle.

Someone is lying. Someone is playing games. The answer to the question might be closer than it seems.

Stormy has a fight on her hands. Will she survive long enough to answer all the questions, or is she doomed to disappointment … and death?

Sirena by Gideon MarcusSirena by Gideon Marcus:

One starship, six friends, 10,000 lives in the balance

Young captain-for-hire Kitra Yilmaz has gotten her first contract: escort the mysterious Princess of Atlántida beyond the Frontier and find her a new world. It’s a risky job, fraught with the threat of pirates, dangerous squatters, and rising romantic tensions.

Still, Kitra and her crew are up for anything — until they find a lush world, perfect for settlement…with an enormous ghost ship already in orbit.

What secret does the crippled vessel hide? And is Kitra ready to take responsibility for its precious cargo?

The Lighthouse by Christopher ParkerThe Lighthouse by Christopher Parker:

Enchanting, mysterious, and deeply romantic, The Lighthouse follows a young woman’s breathtaking journey far from home to discover where she truly belongs.

Something strange is happening in Seabrook. The town’s lighthouse–dormant for over thirty years and famously haunted–has inexplicably started shining, and its mysterious glow is sparking feverish gossip throughout the spooked community.

Amy Tucker is only visiting for the night and has no plans to get caught up in the hysteria, but that changes when she meets Ryan, the loyal, hard-working son of a ranch owner who lives on the outskirts of town.

Their chance encounter turns into an unforgettable weekend, and against the backdrop of the lighthouse-obsessed town, the two of them forge a deep connection, opening their hearts, baring their souls, and revealing secrets long kept hidden.

But as they grow closer, and as the lighthouse glows ever brighter, a startling discovery about Ryan leaves Amy questioning everything she thought she knew. To uncover the truth about her new friend, Amy will need to enter Seabrook’s ominous tower, where waiting inside she will not only find the reason why fate has brought them together… but a shocking secret that will change the course of their lives forever.

The Last Days of Hong Kong by G.D. PenmanThe Last Days of Hong Kong by G.D. Penman:

Book 3 in the Witch of Empire series

In the aftermath of the war, Iona “Sully” Sullivan has lost everything; her job, her friends, her fiancé and even her magic. But when an old friend shows up on her doorstep, offering her the chance to undo one of her long litany of mistakes, there is still enough of the old Sully left to get her on the first boat to Hong Kong. A stranger in a strange land, Sully must navigate alien customs, werebear chefs, the blossoming criminal underworld, religious extremists, Mongol agents, vampire separatists, and every other freak, maniac or cosmic leftover with an iota of power as they all compete for a chance at the most valuable prize in all the world; a little sailor doll named Eugene, and the last wish on earth.

Digital Death by Jaxon ReedDigital Death by Jaxon Reed:

The Republic’s AI controls a clone on one planet. The League controls a bot on another . . .

Jade Thrall is the League’s Tetrarch but she holds a secret even she does not realize. She is a highly advanced droid, formerly known as Miriam.

Few military assets are available to Jade in her effort to wrest back League planets lost during the war. But one potent tool remains in her arsenal: assassins . . .

Join this rip-roaring, action-packed space opera adventure! Featuring space marines, rotten villains, fist fights, gun battles and sharp political intrigue, Digital Death kicks off a brand new series by veteran science fiction and fantasy author Jaxon Reed set in the Milky Way Universe.

Valkyrie's Daughter by John E. SiersValkyrie’s Daughter by John E. Siers:

The Otuka are hunting a most dangerous game!

The alien Akara have a secret. They’ve discovered the location of a planet that is home to a primitive human civilization, another ancient “seeding” of the legendary Progenitors. But this planet lies in the territory of the Otuka, spacefaring alien predators who consider human flesh to be a delicacy and the planet to be their private hunting preserve.

Unwilling to confront the Otuka, the Akara have passed the problem to their human allies, the Lunar Free State. Now, the LFS needs to decide what to do about it. Are the “Moonies” willing to take responsibility for an entire planet’s population?

One thing seems certain: a favorite food of the Otuka is about to get much more expensive, as the LFS Marines stand ready to teach the Otuka hunters a hard lesson in the perils of hunting the humans in this part of the galaxy. But no one knows the technology state of the Okuta. Will the Marines be the hunters, or find themselves being hunted in turn?

Escape by Rosalind TateEscape by Rosalind Tate:

A Bloody Revolution. Hard Choices. Fatal Consequences.

Sophie Arundel is stranded in a parallel universe, stuck in a grand house in an alternate 1925 England. Thankfully, she has her faithful dog, Charlotte. Oh, and Hugo Harrington who is stranded too — and Sophie’s fallen for him, head over heels.

Hugo’s entirely uninterested, but Sophie has bigger problems.

As a revolution threatens the Manor and everyone in it, Sophie finds the hidden portal to the twenty-first century. When she opens it, one man’s deadly secret will be exposed.

And he’ll kill to stop her.

Songbird Rising by R.K. ThorneSongbird Rising by R.K. Thorne:

Commander Ellen Ryu, Lieutenant Kael Sidassian, and the crew of the starship Audacity have met every challenge thrown their way, from super soldiers, to telepaths, to rivals with axes to grind.

Each step has brought them closer to Ellen’s ultimate goal—finding and defeating Dr. Arakovic, the scientist who destroyed her unit, her brothers- and sisters-in-arms, and her promising Union career. The woman who nearly stole Ellen’s sanity.

But Arakovic’s Songbirds grow more powerful each day. The clues are adding up. And the Audacity crew is discovering that Songbird’s influence reaches deeper and farther than they ever expected.

They’ll dive into battle—but this time they may find themselves underwater.

Not every battle can be won. Ellen Ryu has never let that stop her from trying.

But with his newfound daughter and new friends to protect, will the cost be too high for Kael to stay by her side?

Jump into this epic adventure in a galaxy where abuse of science is rampant and hope is all some people have left. Character-driven space opera with a mix of humor, action, and romance, SONGBIRD RISING is the fourth book in the Audacity Saga.

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