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 (as well as the occasional Big 5 book) newly published this month, though some November 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 epic fantasy, urban fantasy, portal fantasy, historical fantasy, sword and sorcery, fantasy romance, paranormal romance, paranormal mysteries, science fiction mysteries, science fiction thrillers, space opera, military science fiction, humorous science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, time travel, weird western, horror, LitRPG, speculative poetry, non-fiction, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, aliens, dragons, elves, banshees, sirens, assassins, alien invasions, interstellar wars, space marines, metal warriors, crime-busting witches, crime-busting ghosts, magical bakeries, magical swords, bad Santas, three-headed ogres 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:
The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories by Eugen Bacon:
Eugen Bacon’s work is deemed cheeky with a fierce intelligence in text that’s resplendent, delicious, dark and evocative. NPR called her novel Claiming T-Mo ‘a confounding mysterious tour de force.’ The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories imbues the same lushness in a writerly language that is Bacon’s own. This peculiar hybrid of the untraditional, the extraordinary within, without and along the borders of normalcy will hypnotize and absorb the reader with tales that refuse to be labeled. The stories in this collection are dirges that cross genres in astounding ways. Over 20 provocative tales, with seven original to this collection, by an award-winning African-Australian author.
The Lost One by Jonathan P. Brazee:
A slave. A collector’s piece. Kimi has no idea who she is, only that she’s the only one of her kind she’s ever seen.
If she disobeys her captor, the punishment is immediate and excruciating. So, she learns to simply survive.
Until another of her kind appears on a mission. Can Kimi reclaim her birthright, or will she be stuck forever as a prisoner on display?
The Depik tell tales of their past to their kita to keep their story alive. Kimi’s is just one of these stories.
Revolt at the North Pole by Cora Buhlert:
Rebellion is brewing at Santa’s compound at the North Pole. The elves and the reindeer both are overworked, underpaid and angry, so they unite to take down Santa. However, there’s still Santa’s most fearsome enforcer, the horned, clawed and fanged holiday monster known only as Krampus…
This is a short holiday horror story of 3900 words or approx. 14 print pages by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert.
Secrets of the Sword II by Lindsay Buroker:
For ten years, I’ve been using a magical sword that I won in battle to ruthlessly slay enemies, break evil artifacts, and open stubborn pickle jars, but I don’t know much about it.
That’s about to change.
Thanks to the fact that I’m dating a powerful dragon, I can get a ride to the dwarven home world, and we’re going to research the sword’s roots. Not that I care much about its history, mind you, but several allies and enemies have suggested it can do a lot more than whack things. Considering the magical bad guys I fight are always stronger, faster, and more powerful than I am, I need every advantage I can get.
There’s just one problem: a half-dwarf thief has shown up and says she’s the rightful heir to the sword.
I want to believe it’s a scam and can’t possibly be true, but I didn’t get the sword in the most legitimate manner. If I have to give it up, I might not be able to do my job anymore, and just as bad, I’ll be a target for all the bad guys who have been waiting for an opportunity to take me down.
Baking Magic by Melinda Craig:
Starry Valley has been anything but calm since Lindsey moved in. She’s tackled thieves walking through walls, and just last month, she faced down a killer. Not to mention, she had a short romance with one of the handsome police officers and an unusual friendship is blossoming with a maybe detective…she’s still trying to figure that one out. It’s all Lindsey can do to stay sane, yet these people, this town, is more home to her than any place she’s ever been.
She’s still getting used to being open with people about her ability. After all, reading memories is no cakewalk, and it’s definitely not conversation for dinner. But Starry Valley isn’t like other places. She can be real with a select few others, and that is heaven…to finally not hide.
So when Felmira asks for Lindsey’s help in finding a friend’s husband, it’s no surprise she says yes. Helping is a given; delivering is another thing. Lindsey promised Sarah she’d find her husband before Christmas…she only hopes he’s still alive.
A Merry Maggie Messmas by Kate Danley:
Everyone wonders how Santa is able to do his job, but when one of his helpers goes rogue and starts spreading TOO MUCH holiday cheer, it will be down to Maggie and Killian to hop on that sleigh and bring the world a silent night.
A part of the Maggie MacKay: Holiday Special short story series. This stands independently from the main Magical Tracker series and can be read at any time and in any order. It’s just an excuse to hang out with some of your favorite characters.
WARNING: This short story contains cussing, brawling, and unfestive behavior.
Og-Grim-Dog: Ogre’s End Game by Jamie Edmundson:
‘We have saved this world and travelled to worlds beyond it! We have deployed weapons of death beyond your imagination!’
Join everyone’s favourite three-headed ogre in their world-hopping, climactic, final adventure.
After The War of The Dead, things could not have ended more bleakly for Og-Grim-Dog and the broken land of Gal’azu.
But they’ll still save their friends, save the world, complete a satisfying character arc and tie up all the loose ends from the rest of the series…
Of a Strange World Made by Anthony W. Eichenlaub:
Scientist Ash Morgan doesn’t mind breaking rules, but this is ridiculous.
The colony of Edge is a bastion on the frontier of space and science, governed only by laws designed to bring humanity to the stars. Successful laws. Outdated laws, if Ash has anything to say about it.
But when a child is born strange, Ash must decide which of the colony’s rules must be followed, which ones can be broken, and which ones will inevitably lead to Edge’s ultimate destruction.
Solar Flares and Tax Snares by Rachel Ford:
An old friend. A new world. A terrible calamity.
When the Interdimensional Bureau of Temporal Investigations discovers a planetary event that will have cataclysmic interdimensional effects, they know there’s only one man for the job: Alfred Favero, Senior Analyst for the Internal Revenue Services.
Alfred is neck deep in a thorny tax case. But he’ll have to set the case aside, and maybe miss out on his chance for a big promotion, in order to save an old friend in a terrible future on a faraway planet.
And maybe the entire multiverse too.
A fully immersive virtual reality system. A beta testing opportunity that’s the stuff of dreams – or a nightmare that may never end.
Jack Owens is stuck in Marshfield Studio’s newest virtual reality RPG. To escape, he needs to win the game. He knows that. He’s got his team of heroes back, and he’s finally comfortable with the world. He’s ready.
Except someone at Marshfield Studios forgot to cancel the holiday downloadable content test. Jack goes to sleep in a medieval fantasy world, and wakes up in some kind of bizarre winter wonderland where his quest – and his way home – plays second fiddle to holiday festivals, winter pets, and seasonal quests.
But Jack better not let his extended stay or the holiday doldrums distract him too much. Because there’s far worse waiting for him in this magical nightmare than a lump of coal in his stocking…
Humanity’s End is Upon Us
The Tigris have declared a Sacred Hunt against Earth. During the last battle Dryker’s daring plan turned back their vanguard, but now the entire fleet has arrived.
Thousands of Tigris vessels converge upon our world, with only a few dozen battleships, and our remaining orbital defense platforms to shield us.
Captain Dryker is placed under the command of the sadistic Doctor Reid, and sent to reactivate an ancient Void Wraith factory. Within this factory slumbers an army of Void Wraith, and a fleet of harvesters. But if he succeeds those forces will not work for Earth.
They will begin the Eradication, and wipe out everything.
Christmas Hunger by Piper Fox:
After three days of hosting his vampiric brothers and their mates, Magnus is at his wit’s end. A sworn viking bachelor, he needs a break from the happy couples.
The moment the doorbell rings, he takes the chance to get away from it all. Only to come face to face with a beautiful delivery woman who stirs his blood in a way that only a fated mate could.
Donna knows her vision is true the second she meets Magnus’ gaze. Knowing he could send her away before they really get to know each other, she’s careful to hide her true intentions. She wants Magnus to get to know the real her, not just her witchly title.
Magnus has no interest in being tied down to any woman, fated mate be damned. But her sexy confidence and alluring smiles might just have Magnus’ resolve faltering. The moment he has her in his arms, the pull is too strong. He knows giving into his need, even just for the evening, could lead to more than the vampire is willing to give.
Once her true identity is revealed, Magnus must decide whether the sassy, sexy Donna is worth sacrificing his independent bachelor lifestyle for the love of a witch.
Starlight Web by Yasmine Galenorn:
Moonshadow Bay…where magic lurks in the moonlight, and danger hides in the shadows.
One month before January Jaxson turns 41, her husband ditches her for a trophy wife. Adding insult to injury, he steals the business she helped build, and kicks her out during the holidays. So when her best friend Ari suggests she move back to Moonshadow Bay—a quirky, magical town near Bellingham WA—January decides to take the plunge.
Born into a family of witches, January accepts a job at Conjure Ink, a paranormal investigations website. The job’s right up her alley but she doubts that everything reported to Conjure Ink really exists. That is, until she’s sent out on her first case.
An abandoned asylum once housed a murderer, who killed an entire family one Yuletide Eve. It’s rumored that every December he returns to haunt the woodland around the asylum, seeking to add new members to his supernatural family. January’s sure it’s an urban legend, but when new victims show up with no logical explanation for their deaths, Conjure Ink sends her in to investigate. Suddenly January finds herself in over her head, staring directly into the shadowed world of the Veil.
Now, January must not only navigate the new life she’s trying to build, but the paranormal beasties she’s sent out to explore, as well as a hot new neighbor, who seems to be hiding a shadowed past of his own.
Betelgeuse Dimming by Jean-Paul Garnier:
Science Fiction Poetry / comes with free musical audiobook download.
Poetry by Jean-Paul L. Garnier
Music improvised by RedBlueBlackSilver & Field Collapse
Recorded live at Joshua Tree Art & Music
Mixed and co-produced by RedBlueBlackSilver
Witch Is the New Black by Lily Harper Hart:
Ofelia Archer has faced demons, evil witches, and freaky zombies, but nothing could prepare her for the horror of meeting her boyfriend’s mother, Madeline Sully. She thinks she’s ready and able, but she’s really not.
For his part, Zacharias “Zach” Sully isn’t any more thrilled by his mother’s visit than his girlfriend. He’s simply better at dealing with Madeline’s brand of madness.
After one meal, a magical barrage of fire rains down on the group as they’re walking down Bourbon Street. When the flames clear, a young woman is left for dead, and the only thing they know about her is that she was part of a multi-level marketing scheme called Hexential Oils.
Before they realize what’s happening, Sully and Ofelia find themselves knee-deep in an odd world that neither of them really understand … and it leads straight to trouble, as usual. It seems New Orleans is teeming with suspects, and they have no idea which one to focus on.
Ofelia and Sully have a bond that can’t be broken. That won’t stop outsiders from trying. When the hierarchy of Hexential Oils leads to long-forgotten magic and a creature of mythical proportions, they realize they’re in over their heads.
They’ll die to protect one another … and someone desperately wants to make that a reality. It will take both of them working together to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Ghostly Graves by Lily Harper Hart:
Maddie and Nick Winters are embarking on the biggest adventure of their lives: parenthood. They’re nervous, excited, and prepared to go shopping. That leads them to a special baby boutique in Whisper Cove, where they just happen to participate in a cemetery tour run by Michigan’s most famous ghost hunter.
Maddie and the tour guide Harper Harlow recognize each other for what they are right off the bat, although they don’t initially say anything. Everything spills out in the open, though, when a ghost leads Maddie to the body of a local plastic surgeon.
The dead doctor has an interesting reputation with the women around town, and Maddie recognizes him from her days of nursing. Before anybody realizes what’s happening, the two women have formed a crime-fighting team and they’re determined to uncover answers.
Nick would prefer Maddie shop and embrace their incoming baby but he knows when her inner detective can’t be silenced. While the men bond – and discuss loving a magical woman – the women (and Zander, of course) dig deep and uncover exactly how sordid the tale of an unethical doctor can be.
Get ready for some fun. Maddie, Harper, and Zander are ready for adventure … and they’re dragging absolutely everybody along for the ride.
Church of the Assassin by Ross Harrison:
KILL ONE TO SAVE A HUNDRED
Alexiares spends her time killing, tinkering with a car she never drives, and wondering if she’s a sociopath. This simple life is complicated by a deadly purge of her sect and she finds herself on the run, trying to make sense of the slaughter. She’s not alone: the broken-minded assassin has inherited a baby girl. But how can hands that know only how to squeeze necks and strip engines ever nurture a child? When painful revelations, betrayals, and secrets show Alexiares that her life can only cause Baby pain and suffering, she’ll have to make a difficult choice.
Across the galaxy, one seemingly natural death puts rookie Intelligence officer Ryan Blake on a collision course with Alexiares. His journey into desperation and madness will reveal a world he’ll wish had stayed hidden. One full of mysteries and death. As his mentor says, there are cases to make your career and there are cases to make you look over your shoulder for the rest of your life, right up until it ends abruptly and violently.
KILL A HUNDRED TO SAVE ONE
Relentless hunters want both her and Baby, and they will tear worlds apart to get them. They are bigger, stronger, and more resourceful. But Baby is more than a newfound vulnerability to Alexiares: she is a reason to live. A reason to kill.
When you take a shot at an apex predator, do not miss.
The Awesome Adventures of Poppy and Amelia by Maddie Harrisis and Misha Herwin:
Poppy and Amelia didn’t set out to be witches. That happened quite by accident, and it’s a secret they must keep from their family and friends. Then there is Mia, the new girl in class. Pale, strange and deadly serious, she’s in need of a couple of equally weird friends. Poppy and Amelia are happy to oblige. Together, the three of them must thwart the plans of the sinister Miss Mortimer and her evil companions.
The Hawthorne Witch by A.L. Hawke:
Sometimes I’d rather shield my eyes than see darkness in light.
It was my senior year at Hawthorne University when everything fell apart. I mean, all my witch friends got along fine—sort of. But I was nervous about my love life. I just had to get into Hawthorne’s graduate program, because my boyfriend was going to be a professor. I didn’t want to lose him. I didn’t want to lose anyone.
And things got weirder. A witch was threatened with sacrificial murder. Another witch spent all day murmuring to herself, in the center of a circle of candles, on a pentagram she painted in her dorm room. It all pointed to the wicked witch of the Abaddon coven. If I was right, it might just take a full-fledged witch showdown to stop her.
So? Bring it on. What did I have to lose? Just everyone I love. And maybe my soul.
Foxtrot Hotel by Simon Haynes:
First a dead body shows up on Harriet’s favourite beach.
Then she discovers the whole place is going to be bulldozed for an apartment complex.
She’s convinced the two are connected, but she’ll have to untangle a web of lies and corruption to reach the truth.
Meanwhile, someone has decided that the best way to avoid discovery is to silence Harriet… for good!
Bright of the Moon by Miranda Honfleur:
Wrath consumes him as the dark does the night… Until she rises. But can she chase away his darkness?
Most would say the “sweet” and “quiet” Signorina Arabella Belmonte has lived a quiet life as a young noblewoman in her family’s castello. But little do they know she pens treatises criticizing the realm’s warmongers… and now there’s a price on her head. As she struggles to hide her seditious activities, a chance encounter with a unicorn leaves her with four hooves and a horn of her own—and a form she can’t control. The dark-elf queen has offered her a chance to acquire that control… if Bella can find the unicorn who turned her.
Prince Dhuro of Nightbloom has never met a problem he couldn’t solve with his fists—that is, until he fought his sister for a place in the army’s elite forces and lost. When the light-elves defeated them and his father was executed, Dhuro’s inner demons laid claim to the whole of him. Now Immortal beasts are growing in power and threatening his people.
Dhuro has a chance to help his people win, but his mother, the queen, sends him on a fool’s errand instead—helping a human newly turned unicorn find her sire, and asking the impossible: whether the Elder of the pacifistic unicorns will stand with them against the beasts ravaging his people. Making things worse, Bella challenges his every decision, argues with him, infuriates him… until beneath the full moon, she shifts to her human form… and enchants him.
A war is raging, Dhuro must marry for political advantage, and only Bella’s sire can help her… And when the bounty hunters hunting her find them, Dhuro and Bella’s worldviews collide like life and death. But can he be the answer to helping her control her form, and can she chase away his darkness? Can they find a way to be together and fight the war threatening to devour the land… or will it swallow them too?
Verona Rupes, on the ice moon Miranda, is the tallest cliff in the solar system. If you jump off the top, it takes 700 seconds to reach the bottom. What can you do in the most important 700 seconds of your life?
Jonathan and Gaby arrive at the ice moon Miranda to work with a local researcher and find that adventurists have snuck into an area infected with alien bacteria and have gotten themselves in trouble.
Do these people have to be stopped because they’re about to spread a bacterial infection to the human settlements or are there other factors at play?
A tale of petty vindictiveness, competition and jealousy. Oh, and a wedding.
Beachcombing by David Langford:
Beachcombing is David Langford’s first collection of (mostly) SF fanzine-published essays, speeches and silliness since the long-ago The Silence of the Langford (1996), edited by Ben Yalow, which was a Hugo finalist for best nonfiction in 1997. Over the years this author has won 29 Hugo Awards for his work in fanzines, science fiction newsletters, short SF, and SF reference works. Beachcombing comprises over 78,000 words of vintage Langford.
The contents include the much-acclaimed convention talks “Live Thog’s Masterclass”, “The Secret History of Ansible” and “Twenty Years of Uproar” (a ramble through favourite fanzine humour); offbeat pop-science articles for Fortean Times and elsewhere, on such subjects as perpetual motion, violet-ray healing machines, St Hildegard of Bingen, and how to detect the Number of the Beast in practically any name you choose; a handful of recipes and another handful of Drabbles; several introductions to SF books; and many instalments of unreliable autobiography.
The Banshee Brouhaha by Amanda M. Lee:
Charlie Rhodes has spent her entire life wondering who her birth parents were, why they abandoned her, and where the magic she’s been learning to hone came from.
She’s finally going to get some answers.
With proof that the new member of the Legacy Foundation is really her brother, Charlie sets off to visit Salem with him and her boyfriend Jack Hanson. She’s never been to the city before and finds that the history swirling is only one of the things that has her excited.
Not long after landing, a body is strung up in Salem Common, and witnesses say it was ghosts doing the dirty work. Jack is intrigued enough to call in the rest of the team. Since Charlie’s parents are supposedly taking refuge within the city limits, the investigation makes for a nice cover.
It’s not long before Charlie realizes that there’s more going on in Salem than witches and white magic. Something dark is festering under the surface, and whatever it is seems to be taking aim at her.
Charlie wants answers. She’s also afraid to get them. During the search for what she’s lost, though, she becomes more determined than ever to hold onto what she has.
There’s evil afoot, and a woman who looks like an older version of Charlie is stalking the group. Could the two things be connected? Charlie won’t leave until she knows for certain.
Salem’s history might be coming back to haunt those who venture into the city and it’s up to the Legacy Foundation to figure out why … that is if they survive long enough to uncover the answers.
Hold onto your broomsticks, because it’s going to be a witchy ride.
A Little Mistletoe and Magic by Marianne Morea:
Done with grieving the loss of her family, Jenny Mitchell is looking for a fresh start. Life as she knew it is over, but what waits for her in the town of Whisper Falls is more than just quaint charm and an Inn no one wanted. Her near death experience awakens senses she didn’t know she possessed. Senses that both scare and fascinate her, especially when they bring her face to face with a sexy, supernatural truth that spells more than just second chance romance. Sparks fly under the mistletoe, and there’s no escaping the magic of the season, or the cougar shifter destined to help her through the darkness and mend her broken heart, in this modern twist on a holiday classic.
Primary Targets by Rick Partlow:
Old Marines never die…they just become Space Marines
I thought the hard part of helping the Helta defeat the rampaging Tevynians would be the fighting. How wrong I was.
To the Helta, we Earthers look just like the Tevynians, their mortal enemies. And convincing their government to ally with humans may be even beyond the crew of the starship James Bowie.
But the clock is ticking, because the Tevynian fleet is bearing down on the Helta homeworld. If we can’t talk the Helta into accepting our help to fight them off, then Helta Prime will fall…
And Earth will be next.
Flight Before Christmas by Christine Pope:
They’ll have to fly faster than reindeer to rescue Santa…and save Christmas.
Other than the pleasure of etching delicate tendrils of ice on windows, there’s not much Kai Ulfsen enjoys about life under Jack Frost’s rule. But when he’s roped into serving on a strike team to kidnap Santa and destroy Christmas, Kai’s had enough. Frost must be stopped.
Human witches, the only other beings on Earth with magical powers, are his only hope. He never expected his search would lead him a woman with sky-blue eyes and hair like a river of gold.
Stella Monroe is five minutes away from closing up her tea shop for the holiday when a vision of Nordic male perfection fills the doorway. And, even more surreal, this beautiful man with silver hair, aquamarine eyes, and…pointed ears?…needs her help.
Granted, she flies the fastest broom at the Witch Olympics, but is her magic equal to a task like this? But maybe with a little luck — and a bag of pixie dust — Kai and Stella can beat the clock, beat Frost at his own game, and save the happiest holiday of the year.
A chosen servant left for dead
A pair of hunters with hidden secrets
A fateful choice of who to trust…
The young cowboy Teer has joined the rogue El-Spehari demigod Kard in his work as a bounty hunter. Both have powers they conceal, but they are determined to guard the people of the Unity’s Eastern Territories.
When a favored servant of the Unity’s Spehari ruler is beaten and left for dead, the two bounty hunters are hired to track the attacker into the wilderness. The Unity has betrayed them both, but they still believe in justice.
Capturing the fugitive is only the first step. Teer faces a harsh question: when a beautiful young woman begs for protection, what is more important—her crimes…or why she committed them?
City of the Dead by Xina Marie Uhl:
A warrior trapped by the past.
A priest hunted by hidden enemies.
A city haunted by old gods’ magic.
Battle-scarred and cynical, Conyr survives as a guard in Eretria’s foulest prison for one reason. He watches his back. When he’s blackmailed into breaking Dru out of prison, staying safe becomes impossible.
A young priest from an enemy city, Dru has come to Eretria on a mission. But he has a big problem. He can’t remember what his mission is. And the ruling elite of both cities intend to discover it by any means necessary.
Together, Conyr and Dru must navigate a maze of power-hungry rivals, desert assassins, and magical attacks if they wish to live.
Deep beneath the city itself long-dead gods kindle to life—and they are angry. For the young priest’s lost memory holds more than the key to his past, but also the fates of two cities.
Metal Warrior: Steel Trap by James David Victor:
When human allies are enemies and invading aliens are friends, you can only count on one thing. There’s going to be a betrayal somewhere.
A military sci-fi adventure from Amazon All-Star author James David Victor
Dane and the Mechanized Infantry Division have taken their mech suits into space. Their plan? Attack the Exin before they can attack Earth again. And they have inside information from an Exin alien to make sure everything goes as planned. Can they stop the next invasion or are they walking into a trap?
Metal Warrior: Steel Trap is the third 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.
Escaped by Magic by R.L. Wilson:
A sassy siren. A stolen blade. A paranormal conspiracy. An unexpected romance.
The way I saw it, I had two choices: retrieve my pack’s stolen blade or spend another night wishing I had. The plan was simple the execution was an epic failure.
Before I knew what hit me, I was behind bars in Bethune. Home to the most savage inmates, disgusting food, and hot guards in body-hugging uniforms. If I could keep my head straight, I could do my time and go home. But no one ever accused me of following Rules. Nothing could prepare me for what happened next.
I desperately need to escape. I have a plan, I know I can make it. Except there is one tiny problem-I’m head over heels in love with one of the guards. I can ask him to come with me but what if he refuses?
I need to make a decision and fast. But I’m not exactly in a place known for inspiring brilliant decisions.