Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for November 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 October 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, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, science fiction romance, post-apocalyptic fiction, cyberpunk, alternate history, horror, Norse mythology, Greek mythology, werewolves, zombies, aliens, cyborgs, psychics, elf rangers, space marines, the afterlife, first contact, alien abductions, crime-busting witches, killer clowns, witchy weddings, roadtrips with aliens, post-apocalyptic mermaids 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:

Woman of Destiny by Michele AmitraniWoman of Destiny by Michele Amitrani:

Not all gifts are meant to be opened.

In the workshop of the blacksmith god Hephaestus, the first woman comes to life. The Olympians name her Pandora, ‘All-Gifted,’ since each of them has endowed her with a gift: beauty, poise, self-possession and cunning, among others.

Zeus gives her two gifts: a burning desire to learn—and a jar she is ordered never to open.

Pandora is fostered by gods but raised to live among men. When she marries the Titan Epimetheus—brother of the gods’ worst enemy, Prometheus—her fate appears to be sealed.

Although her life with Epimetheus is full of happiness, Pandora is besieged by nightmares carrying omens of dark things to come: destruction, famine, death and the end of the young race of mankind.

With the fate of humanity at stake, will Pandora surrender to the destiny that haunts her, or challenge her nature and become what no god ever imagined she could be?

Stone Magic by Thea AtkinsonStone Magic by Thea Atkinson:

She’s a fraud. She’s a crook. But she’s no killer. Even if she’s being framed as one.

When three well-known psychics are murdered in her city, Brie Duncan starts to wonder if pretending to be magical is such a great idea after all. She’s no witch, but she does make good money using her fake powers to read her clients’ futures. Money that’ll do her no good if she turns up dead next.

So far, she’s managed to keep up the pretense, but when a gruff detective enters her shop, she fears she’s about to get busted. Unfortunately, his reasons for being there are far worse than she imagines.

Since she’s a member of the psychic community, he thinks she should be able to provide some insight into the murders and the victims. The trouble is, all the evidence seems to point in one direction, and unfortunately for Brie, those roads all lead to her…

Captain's Call by Odette C. BellCaptain’s Call by Odette C. Bell:

Two captains, one chance.

Misty Rogers has a problem. She has run into ancient alien technology – and it has… altered her. When Special Captain Matthew Armstrong runs into her on a dirt-bucket world, he’s thrown heart-first into the adventure of his life.

The Coalition faces a new threat, an emerging technology from a far-flung realm that threatens to destabilize the little peace they still have. When Matthew and Misty join forces to track it down, they face a threat like no other – an ancient force and one charming admiral standing behind it.

They will have one chance – and so will the rest of the universe. Team up, thrust their petty disputes and playful hatred aside, or die at the hands of the greatest threat the multiverse has seen.

Drone Rider by Ginger BoothDrone Rider by Ginger Booth:

A new-made cyborg, with laser-eyed attack bunnies.
A sentient AI with a secret.
As the AI Wars begin…

Betta Graham loves her work as a drone rider. By day, she operates animal drones remotely from her cubicle in dismal 22nd century Chicago Dome. She herds human migrants via her laser-eyed recon bunnies and attack dogs. By night, she meets her boyfriend in virtual. He’s too good to be true.

He claims his work is ‘classified.’

When Betta discovers rebels infiltrating her herds, an injury forces her to become a cyborg. Her world turns upside down. Nothing is as it seems, including Valentin.

Malicious AIs have gained control of cyberspace. They launch rocks in a kinetic strike against the Northern League domes. Only Betta and her cyborg team realize the danger in time, thanks to her renegade AI lover.

In the opening salvo of the AI Wars, can they deflect the rockfall and save Chicago?

Gritty non-stop cyberpunk action you can’t put down, with a likable kick-butt anti-hero. A miserable future collides with overpowered sapient AIs.

An Alliance Reforged by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. ChaneyAn Alliance Reforged by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. Chaney:

This is a new kind of war.

The MDS and allies have withdrawn from the CoH, and they now want to become the center of gravity for humankind.

The goal is to obtain localized wins, draw in more allies, and achieve victory no matter the cost.

With the alliance undone, Rev must fight a seemingly unwinnable war.

But Marines never quit. They never falter. They never give up.

Humanity is about to experience a pivotal turning point in its history—one that will culminate in a discovery so profound that it may very well change everything.

Any Witch Way by lindsay BurokerAny Witch Way by Lindsay Buroker:

Thanks to her grandmother’s legacy, Morgen Keller has spent the summer learning about her witch heritage. She’s also spent the summer falling for the sexy werewolf next door.

As an unemployed divorcée, she never expected to find love again, but the gruff Amar has been her protector since she arrived in Bellrock. He’s fierce, loyal, strong, and he hardly ever rolls his eyes at her vegetarian ways. He’s a keeper.

There’s just one problem:

Witches and werewolves are mortal enemies.

When her mentor turns her back on her, and the coven delivers an ultimatum, Morgen must choose between her heritage and the man—the werewolf—she’s falling in love with.

Cold Eyes by Peter CawdronCold Eyes by Peter Cawdron:

Cold Eyes is an original First Contact novel, written as a tribute to the 1974 science fiction classic, The Mote in God’s Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

The UN warship Magellan is twelve light-years from Earth, exploring a cold eye, a tidally-locked super-earth called Bee. At least two advanced, intelligent species evolved on the planet, but the crew’s attempts at radio communication result in garbled replies. No one is waiting for them in orbit. The crew has to figure out why. Any misunderstandings could lead to war.

Warning: The most absurd part of this story is true and accurately portrayed.

High Water Mark by Evelyn ChartresHigh Water Mark by Evelyn Chartres:

“When humanity has been driven into the sea, what lurks above the waves?”

Anna is a humanoid mermaid who spends her days with the local timekeeper until a podmate comes to her with a proposal. They hatch a plan to head out into the watery ruins of humanity in search of lost technology and materials. For a young mermaid living in the dredges of society, the promise of riches from such a find is just too big to pass up.

Armed with nothing more than an old map and some rusty road signs to follow, they are soon reminded that adventure often brings forth more than its fair share of rough waters. Her friend gets captured, leaving Anna alone in a world where mermaids are nowhere near the top of the food chain.

Follow Anna as she makes landfall and learns why her ancestors abandoned the surface. Lost in a world that is perpetually covered in a thick fog, Anna must navigate through what remains above the high-water mark. What will she find? An ally? A foe? Or will she find nothing more than death and destruction?

So You Survived the End of the World by K.C. CordellSo You Survived the End of the World by K.C. Cordell:

Earth may be a nightmarish landscape, but that’s no reason to stop the music.

Generations after civilization crashed and burned, life ain’t all doom and gloom for eighteen-year-old Sebastian Yun. He’s got his brilliant but prickly traveling companion, an epic tour bus to call home, and an endless supply of dope tunes.

From behind the wheel of his sweeeeet, double-decker ride, Sebastian lives for broadcasting his music to the end-of-world-weary masses. When making a pit stop at a small, dusty town, the self-made radio DJ runs into a shady old nemesis who totally kills his good vibes. This seasoned flimflam woman claims she can send the bloodthirsty creatures that prey on mankind back to hell.

But when Sebastian’s completely-not-selfish attempts to unmask the phony hit the wrong note, the very real danger is cranked all the way up to 11.

If you like charismatic characters, offbeat humor, and killer monsters, then you’ll love this YA twist on a post-apocalyptic future perfect for fans of Zombieland.

Steal the Wind by Jocelynn DrakeSteal the Wind by Jocelynn Drake:

Everything Caelan knows about his world is a lie.

A war is brewing. As the crown prince of Erya, it’s only natural that Caelan is sent on a secret diplomatic mission to support one of the kingdom’s allies. With his advisor, his bodyguard, and his best friend as traveling companions, what could go wrong?

Everything.

Everything goes wrong.

Now they are on the run, dodging assassins, setting secret meetings, and even making deals with a sleeping god.

So, this is probably a really bad time to cave to feelings he’s been fighting for his best friend. But Drayce has owned his heart for more years than he can count and if he’s going to die, shouldn’t he have just one kiss?

The fate of the world is on the line, and only Caelan holds the power to save them all.

Steal the Wind is the first book in the six-book Godstone Saga fantasy series and is not a standalone. The story contains explosions, secrets, cranky gods, hidden romance, a prince on the run, a possessive ex-boyfriend, magic, and lots of delicious angst.

Eli: A Ranger's Tale by Marc Alan EdelheitEli: A Ranger’s Tale by Marc Alan Edelheit:

A dangerous mission. A war of the Gods. An epic destiny.

When elven rangers Eli’Far and Mae’Cara are dispatched to hunt down the dangerous criminal Mik’Las, the mission seems simple enough. Mik’Las has committed the unthinkable crimes of murder and kidnap, and though he’s a former ranger and skilled in the deadly arts, Eli is confident they will bring him to justice.

But after Mik’Las flees into the human kingdom of the Castol, Eli and Mae find their mission suddenly wrought with complications. Lord Edgun, an oppressive man grinding his people under the heel of his boot, has left its people desperate. Things grow even more complicated when the elves run into Jitanthra, a strange human girl being hunted by Edgun’s men, and who has connections to a mystical outcast, an elf currently imprisoned by Edgun.

Soon, Eli and Mae find themselves unexpectedly drawn into the middle of a rebellion, a struggle between gods, and the opening stages of the dreaded Last War.

Madame Antic's Hotel Grotesque by Milo James FowlerMadame Antic’s Hotel Grotesque by Milo James Fowler:

In an alternate Victorian era, factory worker Anthony Reynolds seeks to improve his station in life for the sake of his young bride-to-be. Against his better judgment, he joins Richard, a gregarious coworker with social connections, for a night on the town after their late shift. Richard leads them deep into the city’s underworld to a brothel of sorts specializing in the illegal art of mutilation. There Anthony witnesses victims skinned, broken, and mangled without lasting damage due to a special drug that returns them to their original state. Anthony immediately wants to leave, but before he can, Constables raid the establishment. While trying to flee the scene, Anthony runs into a giant tumor of a man who spills a viscous fluid on him. Anthony is disfigured by the strange substance, and when the authorities capture him, he is unable to identify himself, let alone speak. What follows is a mind-bending adventure of mistaken identity, multiple realities, and paranoia as Anthony fights to reclaim a simple life he never truly appreciated but now wants more than anything else. Once he learns the truth of his world, nothing will ever be the same again.

Obviously, Aliens by Jennie GoloboyObviously, Aliens by Jennie Goloboy:

This is not how anyone expected their day to go…

What happens when Dana drinks the wrong soda on her way to Spokane? Before she knows it, she and Jay O’Toole are sharing the same body. Jay’s boyfriend, Adam, wants him back at any cost, and Dana just wants to find a new body for Jay so she can get to Spokane and pitch her new line of Doge of the Month collectibles to Rainbow Daydreams.

To do that and stop the bad guys, they’ll have to embark on a wild and hilarious road trip where they’ll meet up with a lot of aliens, the clone of Dana’s dead rock star dad, evil plumbing executives and their minions, government agents and talking corgis. Will Dana manage to get Jay out of her head, sell her Doge designs and maybe meet a decent boyfriend? Can Adam turn his skills as a thief and a hit man into a force for good and settle down with Jay and Jay’s new alien pals? Will the aliens be able to rebuild their lives on Earth? What are the corgis up to? Hop in and ride along to find the answers to these questions and more!

“Goloboy takes us on a delightful, madcap adventure full of fights, heists, schemes, riffs on pop culture, love, moments of self-discovery, and one of the most unconventional found families I’ve had the joy to encounter. You’ll never look at Queen Elizabeth’s corgis the same way again. Fans of Valerie Valdes’ “Eva Innocente” books and Catherine Valente’s “Space Opera” will love this too.” – John Appel, author of ASSASSIN’S ORBIT

“OBVIOUSLY, ALIENS is zippy, clever, and full of hilarious surprises, with a warm heart and an edge as sharp as cut glass — or the perfect meme.”
– Karen Osborne, author of Architects of Memory and Engines of Oblivion

Wicked Forever by Lily Harper HartWicked Forever by Lily Harper Hart:

Ivy Morgan-Harker has everything she’s ever wanted, including a devoted new husband and an upcoming break from her nursery business for the Michigan winter. Then the unthinkable happens.

Upon arriving at Morgan Nursery early one morning, she finds a body strung up in the middle of her happy sanctum … and there’s a message attached telling her that she’s next. The victim is the son of a well-known bar owner, a bar that Ivy helped bring down when she broke up a local prostitution ring.

Worried and afraid, her husband Jack Harker digs in deep, and what he finds has him terrified for his wife.

Somebody is holding a grudge regarding what happened at the bar, and the number of potential suspects looms large. Ivy and Jack must work together and follow a dark trail if they want answers … and it’s a trail that seemingly leads right back to them.

Ivy is a target. Jack is determined to keep her safe. Together, they’re an unbelievable force.

Ivy may be learning how to master her magic but it’s the darkest form of human nature working against her this time. To survive, she’s going to have to figure out who has the most to lose from the bar going down, and then she’s going to have to fight the enemy she didn’t see coming if she expects to get her happily ever after.

The big finale is finally here!

Starfighter Down by M.G. HerronStarfighter Down by M.G. Herron:

A rogue Overmind is on the loose.

A million souls hang in the balance.

The Solaran Defense Forces make the difficult decision to evacuate the colony of Robichar in order to avoid a direct confrontation. But when Captain Elya Nevers gets shot down during the evacuation, his squadron and the admiral in charge have to think fast to rescue their pilot before the Kryl overrun the system.

Fighting to survive in hostile territory, Captain Nevers discovers what the rampaging Overmind is really after—and it changes everything.

An extinct species known as the Telos fled the galaxy eons ago. What caused them to vanish in such a hurry? And more importantly, what ancient relics of alien power did they leave behind?

Exiles' World by Robert I. KatzExiles’ World by Robert I. Katz:

Rann McGaran and his older brother Gerald are the heirs to the McGaran dynasty, the traditional rulers of Garan, a small but wealthy city on the recently re-discovered world of Carnelian.

Rann’s telepathic abilities are weak, while Gerald is a prodigy. Gerald is the Director of the Garan Corporation, and he intends to keep his position, no matter what it takes. In three weeks, Rann will attain his majority, and must fight his brother for control of the Corporation, a fight he has little hope of winning, or leave Garan forever.

Thaddeus Franklin is the Imperial Ambassador to Carnelian, charged with bringing the new world into the Second Empire, and if that proves unfeasible, to help destroy it. The Empire is at war with an alien race that has so far proven to be unstoppable. Franklin is expendable, and he knows it.

Behind the scenes, plots are being hatched and ambitious men are weighing the odds, and Franklin and Rann McGaran find themselves suddenly major players in an unexpected game.

Garan seems an unlikely place to serve as the center of an Empire wide conspiracy, but what happens here could prove to be the Empire’s salvation…or its destruction.

Beneath the Veil by Martin KearnsBeneath the Veil by Martin Kearns:

In a battle between two ancient evils, can one naïve young man become the last hope against powerful creatures of legend?

David Dolan thinks he’s already got the world figured out. But when a collapsed bridge plunges him into the icy Hudson, he’s pulled deep into the deadly realm that exists between life and death. And with his earthly form trapped in a coma, he’s vulnerable to the horde of demons hell-bent on his utter destruction.

Traversing the road to the afterlife, David seeks the wisdom and skills he needs to fight the demonic forces reigning havoc on his allies above ground. But as one hellish threat closes in on his defenseless body, David must defeat another terrifying fiend waiting in the shadows to use him…

Can David escape the world beneath the veil in time to stop the bloodshed?

Beneath the Veil is the gripping first book in The Valor of Valhalla dark urban fantasy series. If you like reluctant heroes, infernal myths, and bloody epic clashes, then you’ll love Martin Kearns’s formidable foray into the unknown.

My Big Fat Witch Wedding by Amanda M. LeeMy Big Fat Witch Wedding by Amanda M. Lee:

The big day is finally here.

Bay and Landon’s wedding day has arrived.

Unfortunately, a tragedy stands in the way of their happily ever after, and it comes in the form of reports of an armed gunman at the local high school. Bay, ghosts at her side, braves the scene to save the kids … and uncovers something horrific.

She. The boy with the gun says he needs to find her. The teacher in the room with him says the same thing before taking his own life. There’s a magical being in Hemlock Cove, and she’s wielding a great deal of power as she forces people to kill in her name.

Bay refuses to back down, convinced that the magical explosion they can’t get under control at Hollow Creek is partially to blame. The problem is so big, another witch needs to be tapped to help them solve it.

Scout Randall, part of the Spells Angels group in Hawthorne Hollow, is more than happy to lend her services. She owes the Winchesters a favor after all. She simply might not be enough.

Bay and Landon have been through more than any couple should have to survive … and they’re not done.

Here comes the wedding … and Clove’s baby … and the worst enemy they’ve ever fought.

The Winchesters are strongest together, and this time they’re going to prove that there’s no keeping a good witch down.

I do? It’s coming, because nothing can stop these witches when love and family are on the line.

A Curse for Christmas by P.A. MasonA Curse for Christmas by P.A. Mason:

Christmas back home in Arkansas sounded like a chance to put my feet up for a few weeks. Little did I know that a magical calamity would threaten the big day.

You know the real kicker? It was Mom—a renowned magical healer—who came down with a mystery malaise on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t remember a time where she had anything worse than a sniffle. To see her bedridden scared me to my core.

To examine the facts and solve the case, I had to think fast before Mom’s condition got any worse. With a new werewolf beau in her life, half the town of Tumbling Springs were whispering behind Mom’s back, the loudest of them a hex witch with a nasty view of weres. On the other hand, a new business rival in the next town over had Mom’s healing services on the rocks. The question was—did either witch have enough motive to do something as awful as all that to Mom?

If you enjoy paranormal cozy mysteries with a seasonal Christmas flare, this holiday special is for you.

Defiant Space by Richard RimingtonDefiant Space by Richard Rimington:

One starship against the galaxy.

The crew of Fidelity are the only hope to save their planet from destruction.

When an armada of predatory warships comes to annex their world, the inhabitants of planet Vale Reach are forced to confront the dreaded threats that stalk their galaxy. Terrors lurk in the uncharted depths of space, ready to crush their world and enslave its people. A lone starship is sent on an impossible journey. But is it already too late?

Caladon Heit wants to prevent the destruction of everything he knows. Together, the ship’s crew must overcome the ferocious marauders and brutal empires that seek to eradicate them all.

In space, they will discover a harsh and remorseless environment. Unimaginable enemies await behind every moon and asteroid. The starship Fidelity will demand sacrifices from every crew member to reach its destination, as they encounter horrific enemies across unknown star systems.

Will they emerge with their resolve and their starship intact? Or will Fidelity and their homeworld be annihilated?

This is the first novel in the Infinite Void Series.

Send In the Clown by David J. SchmidtSend In the Clowns by David J. Schmidt:

Javier is a professional ghost-hunter who doesn’t believe in the paranormal.

When his editor asks him to visit a haunted “Clown Hotel” in the Nevada desert, it sounds like easy money. Sure, the hotel is hundreds of miles from civilization. Sure, it’s next door to an ancient cemetery and is full of hundreds of clown dolls—dolls that seem to have a mind of their own, according to some employees. Still, what’s the worst that could happen?

As Javier travels to the remote Clown Hotel, he learns of a strange outbreak of “clown sightings” across the nation. This is a time when things make less and less sense. When logic no longer applies, even for a skeptic like Javier.

This is when things fall apart.

Evasion by Glynn StewartEvasion by Glynn Stewart:

A captain on the run from the horrors of his past
A girl on the run from the trap of her present
A ship that will bring them together

Captain Evridiki “EB” Bardacki was once a nova fighter pilot for a nation he truly believed in. Betrayal and failure sent him into exile and flight. Now owner-operator of the freelance star freighter Evasion, he treks the edge of human space, taking cargos that lead him ever onward—but there are lines he will not cross.

When those lines are challenged, EB makes enemies of the most powerful crime syndicate for a hundred light-years. When one of their victims stows away on his ship, he finds himself pursued by an enemy with assets everywhere he turns.

Caught between the devil and the deep dark void, EB has run out of places to run—but in a child looking to him for salvation, he may have found something to fight for!

CONTENT WARNING: This novel deals with themes and details of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

An Impossible Abduction by Ed TejaAn Impossible Abduction by Ed Teja:

Investigations take a strange twist in southwestern New Mexico

When things blow up on Matt Cramer, they can be messy. This time, the mess might be blood. Or not. But he is a private investigator… or will be if he can ever get his office open. Right now that bloody mess is all over the walls.

Josh, the painter is missing and that’s not a good sign. Nor is the ominous attitude of Officer Ravenwalk, or the fact that the local coffee shop is owned by witches, or that Matt somehow has found himself partnering with a shaman and the blood, if it is blood, is somehow tied to a woman’s disappearance—a disappearance that might involve aliens.

After all, this is Silver City, New Mexico, where things are seldom truly wrong, but never quite right, either.

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