Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for December 2022

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 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, 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, YA fantasy, military fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, YA science fiction, science fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, horror, Greek mythology, Norse mythology, elves, werewolves, krampuses, nutcrackers, crime-busting witches, robot Santas, doctors in space, 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:

Invasion of the Robot Santas by Cora BuhlertInvasion of the Robot Santas by Cora Buhlert

No one ever expected the robot apocalypse to begin in the little town of Brighthaven. And no one ever expected it to involve murderous robot turkeys and their even more terrifying brethren, robot Santas that fire laserbeams from their eyes.

However, Brighthaven’s finest are ready to tackle any robotic holiday menace that might come their way.

Two interlinked holiday stories of approx. 6000 words by Hugo winner Cora Buhlert.

Trolled by Lindsay BurokerTrolled by Lindsay Buroker:

Busy looking for her missing mother and dodging enemies that are after her magical hammer, Matti Puletasi doesn’t need any more problems. She definitely doesn’t need the person who hired an assassin to kill her mother to show up—and target her.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the handsome elven ally she’s falling in love with… may be working for the other side.



Kepler-186f by Rachel FordKepler-186f by Rachel Ford:

The Genesis mission promised a new start on Kepler-186f. A new start for Captain Nikkole Johnson, and a new start for humanity.

An elite soldier recruited to protect settlers on the new world, Johnson wakes from cryosleep to find that the mission went sideways thousands of years ago.

Most of the original crew has vanished. Those who remain know no more than she. Strange voices whisper in the trees and on the winds. Monsters attack in the night to carry off the survivors. To save what’s left of the mission, Johnson must discover what happened in the first place.

Before the ghosts of the past erase any chance of a future.

Wings Unfurled by Rebecca Gomez FarrellWings Unfurled by Rebecca Gomez Farrell:

The vicious claren that used to plague the reunited countries of Medua and Lansera are long gone. So what are the new dark patches appearing in Lady Serra’s second sight? She rushes to King Albrecht to report the danger, only to discover that he’s ailing and Vesperi, Prince Janto’s wife, has fled far to the north to grieve her disappeared daughter. Vesperi still wields the silver flame, possesses all the authority she’s ever wanted, but nothing can heal the wound of a missing child. When the silver moon Esye begins to fade, a gnawing fear preys on her for the first time since she escaped her father’s cold rule. Ominous creatures once thought mythical are now rampaging through the countryside. Janto sends Serra to investigate. But without her friendship and Vesperi’s love, he fears he cannot slay this challenge. He failed to find his own daughter, after all. To save the Lanserim, the legendary bird with three heads must fly again. Will Janto, Vesperi, and Serra find the strength to raise it? Or will this menace, with the might to drain a moon, devour them first?

Black and Brew by Lily Harper HartBlack and Brew by Lily Harper Hart:

The day Ofelia Archer has feared her entire adult life is here. Despite the happiness she’s been feeling since her engagement to Zach Sully, when the inevitable happens and her father has a breakdown on Bourbon Street, her life turns upside down.

Oscar Archer has been fighting a losing battle with mental illness for years, but when he finally hits a wall and is taken to the hospital against his will, he blames Ofelia. Despondent, she’s not paying attention, and when a shadow attacks and leaves her for dead, a new mystery is afoot…and it makes for an opportune distraction so Ofelia’s mind isn’t constantly drifting to her father. Unfortunately, the shadow leads to the one person Ofelia never wants to see again.

Sebastian Gendry is facing serious charges for the beating of Ofelia’s brother. When he slips his tether and disappears, Ofelia realizes he and the shadow are linked … and their paths lead right to the LaLaurie Mansion.

New Orleans has many sordid stories, but none are quite as bad as Delphine LaLaurie’s tale. When Ofelia starts digging, she realizes Sebastian has ties to the family … and they’re the sort that can never be broken.

A shattered heart won’t stop Ofelia. She promised Sebastian he would pay for what he did to her family, and she meant it.

Dark magic is loose in the French Quarter, and it’s going to take Ofelia’s entire motley crew to overcome it. Even then, heartbreak is imminent. Can Ofelia make it through the darkness to find the light on the other side?

The Guardian by A.L. HawkeThe Guardian by A.L. Hawke:

Medusa vacays on the Italian Riviera to stop her best friend from destroying the world.

I’m staying off the coast on the Italian Riviera in Portofino. Have you ever been? It’s this gorgeous bay surrounded by rectangular red and yellow pastel buildings with swanky shops, restaurants and gorge trails.

Well, I don’t want to be here. And I really didn’t want my lover to join me. See, I came to protect my friend. The ancient Greek gods of Olympus claim Arachne holds the Scepter of Azure. The Scepter is a weapon that can freeze an entire city. Well, I don’t really care about the Scepter, I care about my friend. Of course, Arachne can hold her own. Don’t ever underestimate animals like spiders—or snakes, like me, for that matter.

The Guardian is a short story.

Medusa returns from My Evil Eye in this vacation urban fantasy novella. Although The Guardian is chronologically Book II in the Furies series, this book is a distinctive stand-alone that was written to be enjoyed without having read the first novel, My Evil Eye.

Starburn by Benjamin KuttnerStarburn by Benjamin Kuttner:

Magicians versus hyperspeed assassins on a moon-sized whale.

A thousand years after the destruction of Earth. Three seventeen-year-olds are chosen for the heist of the millennium.

Their task is to steal a linkstone to stop a moon-sized whale creasing spacetime.

Starburn, an orphan training to be a quantum magician;

Estellar, a quirky assassin half-heartedly doing jobs for her family;

Aurum Junn, a gunfighter who loves a girl of a different species;

And on the cracked stardust of the whale’s skin lives another teen, Little Moon, who will protect the linkstone at all costs.

River of Night by Naomi KuttnerRiver of Night by Naomi Kuttner:

A dark and inventive urban fantasy about a young man who must face his deepest fears to save his friends — but the monster in the night might be exactly the ally he needs

Ivan thinks he might be going mad. Because the alternative is worse.

It’s the last summer of school, and Ivan’s main aim is to get into a university – any university – to escape his stifling hometown.

But when Ivan stumbles on an ancient Viking death cult, his new goal is simple: survive long enough to save his friends and stop his world from imploding.

As the stakes get higher, Ivan must learn to use the darkness within to face the dangers that surround him. The Shadow World may hold the key to victory, but does Ivan have what it takes to defeat ancient monsters and present-day murderers?

And if he does befriend the dark, what might he become…

The Krampus Kink by Amanda M. LeeThe Krampus Kink by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes has a lead on her past, but it just might endanger her future. Nothing can stop her from seeking answers though, which means a trip to Colorado with her boyfriend Jack. Her parents and brother are along for the ride. There’s just one problem … death has followed them to Estes Park.

It seems the hotel they’re staying at—the famous one was all booked up—is in the midst of a training session. Charlie doesn’t think much of it until a body appears in the hedge maze behind the hotel. That’s not all, because there’s a creature to go along with the body, and it has murder on its mind.

The Legacy Foundation has been grounded since the death of one of their own, but a potential krampus connection changes things. That means backup is coming, and Charlie’s fact-finding mission turns into a fight for survival.

Between the hotel workers, who are acting very odd indeed, and the return of the crossroads demon helping Charlie, she has her hands full.
A fight is coming, and Charlie needs help to battle the evil chanting her name. Unfortunately for her, trouble is coming in from every direction, and it’s going to take everybody working together to come out on the other side.

Charlie’s biggest enemy has made it back to this plane. Before she can take down Sybil, however, she has to know the truth about her past.

Brace yourselves, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Oblivion's Cloak by Dylan McFadyen.Oblivion’s Cloak by Dylan McFadyen:

First Lieutenant Shaara was dead this morning.

Her captain is furious at her. She wasted company resources getting herself killed, and it’s coming out of her paycheck. Now, she’s sitting across from the first other human being she’s seen in six years. His name is Adnan. He claims to come from Earth—but that’s impossible. Earth died a long time ago. If Adnan’s telling the truth, he and the decaying ship the captain pulled him off are nearly a thousand years old.

Wherever he’s from, he’s Shaara’s responsibility now. Which is the last thing she needs. But it’s either that, or the captain sells Adnan into slavery. Shaara knows what that would mean. Most humans do. And something inside her won’t let her abandon Adnan to it: revenant memories, stabbed awake by the look in his eyes.

Facing those memories won’t be easy. It’d be far easier to ignore the feeling driving her forward. Far easier to let it all go to hell, and drift back to sleep.

Until a shadowy new faction starts stoking the fires of war. They’re looking for Adnan; Earth’s last survivor holds the key to unleash a terrible, indiscriminate vengeance on the galaxy that wronged them. Who they are is a mystery—to everyone but Shaara. Hard as she’s tried to forget, she knows them all too well. Which means she’s the only one who can stop them.

Nutcracker of Crystalfall by Kay L. MoodyNutcracker of Crystalfall by Kay L. Moody:

The annual Christmas party was going just fine… until the trolls showed up.

Clara is a young woman who is wickedly good at puzzles, but she also has a secret her parents have shamed her into hiding. The weight of that secret has ruined nearly every happy moment in her life.

At least this year’s Christmas party gets more interesting once a mysterious stranger shows up. He teaches Clara how to crack nuts, wears a soldier’s uniform she’s never seen, and flashes a smile she’ll never forget.

But then a cruel party guest destroys the only gift that matters to Clara. Even worse, trolls appear and try to kill the handsome stranger she only just met. The fight rages into the night. Soon, Clara has to make a choice.

She could finally escape her unloving parents and the dreadful life they have planned for her. It would only take a promise to join an even greater conflict in the magical and dangerous realm of Faerie—a land she previously didn’t know existed.

If she stays home, her happiness will end forever. If she goes to Faerie, a great adventure awaits her…but it might kill her too.

Doctor Galaxy by Jenny SchwartzDoctor Galaxy by Jenny Schwartz:

New ER doctor Alexi Sur always intended to join an aid agency. She’d just expected to work among humans. But when the Pax Galactica Corps becomes her only option (don’t ask – the debts aren’t hers, but the family is. Much to her regret), Alexi finds herself traveling the galaxy and learning alien physiology and culture, all while becoming a reality TV star.

Being pursued by camera drones and starring in her very own Welcome-to-the-Universe documentary was never on Alexi’s to do list. She’s positive the show will flop. After all, Alexi is boring. That’s why her boyfriend left her for her stepsister.

But as trillions of aliens tune in to watch Alexi discover the universe in Doctor Galaxy, what she discovers is the existential threat facing humanity.

Major Soren Agha already knows about the danger. He’s currently playing peacekeeper for the Eripi of the Pariah Sector whose tragic fate could be humanity’s: conquered, exploited, lost.

Can one dedicated doctor save humanity? Can she, as Soren believes, also save the Eripi? And would anyone really notice if she sabotaged a couple of pesky camera drones?

Inheritance by Nanci SchwartzInheritance by Nanci Schwartz:

With the help of her crew and the rogue Mahjin, Victoria Anetti is determined to rescue her father.

But Alessandro surrendered for a reason: to find a cure for the enemy supersoldiers, who will soon die because of their genetic enhancements. While captive, he learns they aren’t so different from the Mahjin—and the only way to save their lives is to make them normal again.

The dangerous Janusian experiment requires a test subject, and Alessandro will stop at nothing to help those in need. Even give up the superhuman abilities that made him a hero.

Fueled by envy and rage, Victoria vows to finish his mission to save the remaining supersoldiers. But as the battle between the Janusian Union and Colonial Republic rages on, Victoria must choose whether to take her place at her father’s side and become what she always wanted—normal—or remain with her crew on the Robber Barron and accept her destiny as the last supersoldier.

Icebreaker by Glynn StewartIcebreaker by Glynn Stewart:

To the north, the ice
To the south, the enemy
In the middle, her Republic…

Coral Amherst is the middle child of a wealthy family, with fingers throughout the politics and laws of the magical Dalebloods and the Republic they lead. Skill and connections alike have propelled her to the highest ranks of the Republic’s Navy.

Now, duty inexorably drags her into a mission to learn the fate of a long-lost magical city, once home to many of the people the Dalebloods rule. Storms of dark magic drove the Seablood from their ancient city and to the shores of the Republic—and those same storms now assail the Republic itself!

An ancient threat rises beyond the ice of the northern waters and Coral Amherst will need every scrap of courage, honor, and magic she commands if she is to save the Republic!

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