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, historical fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, supernatural thrillers, space opera, military science fiction, science fiction romance, science fiction horror, humorous horror, regular horror, wizards, aliens, space marines, alien warriors, trans superheroes, haunted mansions, crime-busting witches, crime-busting academics, lesbian AIs, zombie hedgehogs 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:
When Naomi Woodward’s doctor recommended her for a clinical trial, it seemed like the answer to her prayers. She was finally able to get her gender confirmation surgery and the surgery was a resounding success. She finally looked and felt like the woman she always knew she was.
Her new face and new body finally helped her work up the nerve to ask out Anika, the beautiful nurse that lived across the hall. To her delight Anika said yes, but when they are attacked during their date, Naomi quickly discovers that the experimental procedure she went through had some unexpected side effects, and that when Anika told her things with her family were complicated, she really should have listened.
Now, armed with superpowers she barely understands, a snarky artificial intelligence in her head, and allies that include a Superhero, a Dragon, and the literal Devil, she has to keep Anika safe from the archangel who’s out to kill her while they work desperately to prevent a second civil war in heaven.
None Left Behind by Jonathan P. Brazee:
Staff Sergeant Gracie Medicine Crow, United Federation Marine Corps, is the Marine’s top sniper. It the mission is too dangerous or difficult to pull off, she’s the choice to get it done.
Even deep inside enemy territory, killing the target might be the easiest part of the mission. When you kick a hornets’ nest, the hornets get angry. Getting herself and her a-gunner out and back to friendly forces might just be a bridge too far.
This is the latest Gracie Medicine Crow story. Other Gracie works include the novel “Sniper” and the novelettes “BOLO Mission, “High-Value Target,” and the 2018 Nebula Award finalist, “Weaponized Math.”
At just over 10,000 words, “None Left Behind” is a novelette, not a full-length novel.
For all his life, Sol has believed he’s only worthy of affection as long as he’s useful–and he intends to prove his ultimate use by restoring a colony on Venus as a new home for his friends and lovers. But upon arriving, he realizes there’s more here than he bargained for. For one, the resident artificial intelligence wants to make friends with him. For another, the nanites want to completely change his body… and in the process reveal her true self. Stuck (or perhaps blessed?) with a new form, she must find out what it means to live, to be loved for who she is rather than her work.
Catnip is a space exploration novel about a trans woman’s journey to find herself and what it means to be loved for who she is, with the help of her polycule and a lesbian AI.
Armed with evidence of Sedaya’s treachery, Ben and his crew seek an audience with the Empress. If everything goes according to plan, the duke will be brought to justice and the bounties on their heads lifted.
But since when does everything go according to plan?
The adventure of a lifetime continues in the fifth installment of the #1 sci-fi bestselling Starship For Sale series. If you like found starships, unlikely heroes, and intergalactic mayhem, you’ll love Starship For Sale.
Discarded. Sacrificed. Triumphant.
They sent me into the blasted lands to die. I refused. I lived. And now…I return to the empire that discarded me. A god, rich with worship. I don’t know what has become of Hasra, or the war with the Fomori. I don’t know where Li is, or if her homeland is still dealing with the wyrm Khonsu.
My sister and mother were freed, the reward for my blood price, but I have no idea what has become of them. It is time to go home. Time to right old wrongs, and to find the legacy left behind by my former incarnation. Three tombs remain. Once I am certain my family is safe I will seek them.
The next lies in Olivantia, a land that has banned sorcery, and will kill me if they discover what I am.
If I survive, then I must return yet again to Hasra, this time to see the demonic kingdom that lies under the very city.
Prophecy says that I will survive, and find the last tomb in the Ashlands.
I tire of prophecy. I tire of what others require of me. It is time to make my own way, my own choices. They will find that I am neither boy, nor student any longer. I am the prince of demons, and I have returned.
The Magic Moment by Lily Harper Hart:
Ofelia Archer is working toward a goal, both personally and professionally, and she’s making great strides on both. Her attention is diverted, however, when a steamboat washes ashore next to the riverwalk…and it’s a boat that is more than a hundred years overdue.
The Adelaide was supposedly lost on the river back in the day, all souls onboard believed lost, and yet it’s in New Orleans…and it might not be empty.
Ofelia and her boyfriend Zach Sully are part of the first team to visit the boat, and almost immediately Ofelia is struck by the reality they’re not alone. Unfortunately for her, she can’t pin down a source for the feeling. When ghosts start haunting her home and dreams, however, the story begins to take shape.
The Adelaide was besieged by darkness before the end came. Now that darkness is pointed at New Orleans. It’s up to Ofelia and Sully to put an end to it all…even when the darkness decides Ofelia is the new target.
Some bonds last a lifetime. Some last beyond. The bonds from the Adelaide are something more, and not even death can tear them asunder. It can take aim at Ofelia, however, which means she could be joining the dead before it’s all said and done.
Fear of the Dark by Ross Harrison:
A dark planet on the galaxy’s edge. A primordial predator. A desperate hunt for a dangerous secret.
When the medical frigate Ruby Rose picks up an SOS from the planet’s lightning-ravaged surface, the medics do not hesitate to drop into the raging storm. But the innocuous little planet is home to something sinister. Something desperate. Something that will stop at nothing to find what it’s looking for.
Across the galaxy, the crew of the Star Wraith receives a call for help. The captain of a medical frigate has lost his medics, and one of their names is all too familiar. But how could the Wraith’s crew know that a simple rescue mission will lead to a string of murders and a waking nightmare that will leave them forever changed?
Night Market by B.R. Kingsolver:
I was blissfully ignorant of a book, usually translated into Human languages as The Gospels of Satan, until it was stolen from the Great Library.
My twin sister, a Senior Scholar, showed up at my door and asked me to help her retrieve the cursed book. It’s magical, priceless, and in the wrong hands might be dangerous.
It could be anywhere in thousands of Worlds, but the logical place for the thieves to sell it is the Great Marketplace at the Crossroads of the Worlds. Not out in the open, but in the shadows known as the Night Market, where the buyers and sellers don’t mind disposing of a body or two.
Wizardoms: Legend of Shadowmar by Jeffrey L. Kohanek:
A clever thief. A grizzled warrior. A legendary castle guarded by a monster of myth.
When presented with the opportunity of a lifetime, young and arrogant Jerrell Landish cannot refuse. Teamed with a renowned warrior, he embarks on a quest hundreds of adventurers have attempted.
None ever returned.
His mission: Locate a legendary castle, defeat the guardian protecting it, and obtain the treasure hidden within.
If only he knew what lurked in the castle ruins.
If only he understood the dangerous nature of the treasure he sought to claim.
Freaky Crypts by Amanda M. Lee:
Poet Parker thought her past was lost to her…but it’s about to invade her present.
Her uncle Sidney is in New Orleans, which just happens to be where Mystic Caravan is setting up shop for the week, but Poet isn’t expecting a happy reunion. Things are tense—to say the least—and that’s before zombies are reported in the French Quarter.
New Orleans is one of Poet’s favorite places in the world, and she’s thrilled to be in the city, but when it becomes apparent that a war is brewing between powerful loas, the Big Easy becomes big trouble.
Poet has always been interested in her origins, and she’s about to get the answers she’s always sought. It seems one of the warring loas knows what she is and why she can wield such powerful magic…but he’s only willing to share for a price.
Poet has always believed that fighting a war of someone else’s making was a mistake. Now she has no choice because if she doesn’t fight, everybody will die.
Zombies are taking over the Quarter. Loas are fighting their own. Poet’s heart is vulnerable thanks to the return of the one family member she remembers.
Blood will spill. Whoever is left standing will have the ultimate answers. Poet just hopes it will be her.
Possessed by the Alien Renegade by Krista Luna:
No one will ever want a brutal warrior like me. Yet the beast within demands I claim my fated mate.
Flying is my life. Our alien allies have the sweetest fighter jets I’ve ever flown. I ace every training flight and qualify for a special mission—learning how to pilot an enemy ship. Everyone agrees I’m the best choice.
Everyone but him.
As the top varoolian pilot, Var’s the warrior I long to impress. But it’s hard to remain professional around the dangerously attractive alien, especially once we’re alone on a small ship. The closer I get to him, the more Var growls. Those growls do things to me—tingly things. I’ve spent my life racing to be first, but this time, I want to be caught.
I am Varax, not Varool, a berserker straight out of my people’s bloody past. Marked by the stripes on my face, I am doomed to a life alone—an outcast no Varool woman ever wanted.
Then an alluring sweet scent sets both my hearts beating. Mari is my fated mate.
I refuse to shackle the delicate human to a brute like me. Yet our dangerous mission isolates us in close quarters, leaving me no escape from her delectable beauty and captivating personality. As we fight side by side, I do not know which poses the greater threat to Mari—our enemy…
Or my ravenous need to chase and claim and mark her as mine.
Possessed by the Alien Renegade is a steamy, primal, grumpy-sunshine romance featuring a fierce alien warrior who refuses to see his own worth and the spirited heroine determined to prove him wrong. There’s plenty of adventure with a guaranteed HEA.
The Mystical Murders of Yin Mara by Marshall Ryan Maresca:
Phadre Golmin and Jiarna Kay are perfectly matched. Both astounding intellects, sharing a passion for academic pursuits and each other. Traveling from the University of Maradaine to Trenn College in Yin Mara, they are excited for the opportunity to study magical and mystical theory with the famed Professor Salarmin. So when they come across a dead body that defies all logic, they should leave it alone.
But Phadre and Jiarna tasted adventure in Maradaine, so the discovery of similar victims, paired with their scientific curiosity, makes the situation far too intriguing to ignore. Knowing that they alone have the knowledge to unravel the mystery, Phadre and Jiarna are determined to resolve it, no matter the cost to their academic careers.
The Topaz by Nicholas McAuliff:
Scott Sunderson sees the green fire in his dreams and runs from something intangible yet omnipotent. Digging in the forsaken Valley of the Moon with his near homeless brother Rick, the prospector chases elusive gemstones in the low foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The team strives to free themselves both from the burdens of toil and the burdens of the past, where inescapable poverty and lost opportunities mar the future. Yet Scott knows that something shines brighter than gold under these hills, something that may open doors and clear away the ruin of his past. But all that lusters comes with a heavy price.
Your garden is their battleground.
After a new pesticide turns hedgehogs into flesh hungry maniacs, Harry must seek the help of a fox, a cat and a mouse if he’s to survive the night of the living hogs.
A Romero and Animals of Farthing Wood mashup like you’ve never read before.
Track of the Snow Leopard by Dariel Quiogue:
Track of the Snow Leopard features five savage tales of Orhan Timur, the gray-eyed wanderer known and feared as the Snow Leopard. From an enchanted palace lost in time to a haunted temple-city, to robbing an Emperor’s tomb for the keys to an immortal army to a hunt for a demon tiger to finding a lost world beneath the snow-clad Drokpa Mountains, Orhan Timur swashbuckles and slays through a world filled with hostile forces and magics in the classic pulp sword and sorcery style.
Also includes the bonus story, The Lions of Malakkaria
The Lion of Skye by J.T.T. Ryder:
There can only be one lion of Skye.
Vidav thought he was finally living a life of glory—the warrior’s path he dreamed of as a farmer. However, when his brother, Fennigus, reveals himself as the enemy queen’s champion, it becomes anything but.
Vidav must defeat his brother in order to fulfil his oath to kill the Queen of the Hillmen.
If he does not fulfil his oath, his clan will be unavenged, and the Isle of Skye will remain under enemy rule.
If he does fulfil his oath, his brother may die.
In the end, which will win—honour or family?
Even worse, a dragon has been flying over Skye…
The Lion of Skye is the epic conclusion to the Bronze Sword Cycles duology, a historical fantasy adventure set in 200 B.C. on the Isle of Skye, steeped in Celtic mythology and culture.
The Bolivian Incident by C.B. Shanahan:
An ancient medallion has turned ten-year-old Hollis Whittaker into the U.S. military’s top target. Through the artifact, the boy shares a mind with an alien, and possesses the most advanced brain on the planet, capable of teleporting people through space and time.
A Native American woman, her grandfather, a computer nerd, the boy’s best friend and an involuntary time traveler will do anything they can to help, but when Hollis’ parents disappear, their plan to flee the country and relocate to Central America is scrapped.
Then a mysterious insect appears, followed by an old woman bearing another medallion. The Bolivian stranger has been endowed with different capabilities than Hollis. She tells him that he is unwittingly damaging spacetime and that the consequences could be disastrous.
Is the woman connected to a 1958 nuclear explosion in the Amazon Jungle? Can she help locate Hollis’ parents? Can a ragtag band of misfits protect the boy against the mightiest military in the world? And what’s all of this got to do with aliens?
Martian Academy by James David Victor:
Five years ago, alien invaders stole her family and her childhood. It’s time to make them pay.
Artemis was only twelve years old when the Rath invaded Toronto, killing countless people, including her family. Five years later, she is finally ready to make them pay. The first step: train at the Martian Military Academy so she can fight the aliens and make them pay for invading her planet. She soon learns that humans can be just as ruthless as the Rath, though, and they are far closer to home. Can she help save humanity and find honor among the stars?
Martian Academy is the first book in the Honor Among the Stars series. If you like sci-fi adventures, space battles with complex alien invaders, and unexpected twists in humanities exploration of the stars, this could be your new favorite series.
The Haunting of White Haven Manor by Clay Wise:
With things finally back on track after the death of her husband, Ally is ready for a break and to settle down to a quiet, conventional life with her new boyfriend…
But those hopes are shattered with the appearance of a new ghost… begging for her help with a cryptic message about some place called White Haven Manor, a stately home from the early 1800s but now a long-abandoned ruin with a terrifying reputation.