Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for September 2023

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 August 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, sword and sorcery, paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, post-apoalyptic fiction, science fantasy, horror, dragons, werecats, fox shifters, bigfoot, starships, space pirates, mage queens, deadly dreams, reality bending dance clubs, crime-busting witches 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:

Never Wake: An Anthology of Dream HorrorNever Wake: An Anthology of Dream Horror, edited by Kenneth W. Cain and Tim Meyer:

Have you ever wondered where we go when we dream? Why not let this breath-taking dream horror anthology guide you to worlds beyond the norm.

Since the beginning of time, people have argued the meaning of dreams. Are they symbolic visions that hold great meaning and personal significance? Are they portals into other worlds? Or are they just a series of random events our mind shows us when we fall asleep? Whatever the case, this much is true—the mind can be a scary place to venture, even for a few hours.

NEVER WAKE is an anthology of dream horror, bringing you several mind-bending tales of nightmares, hallucinations, and phantasmagoria from some of the hottest talent in horror fiction. But don’t worry—when you (wake up screaming) flip the last page, just remember to tell yourself, “It was only just a story…”

Unless it wasn’t.

Featuring an introduction from Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann and stories from: Cynthia Pelayo, Philip Fracassi, Gwendolyn Kiste, Eric LaRocca, Lee Murray, Todd Keisling, Laurel Hightower, and many more!

Where do we go when we dream?

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths

The Denverines: Ashes to Ashes by Declan ConnerThe Denverines: Ashes to Ashes by Declan Conner:

When everything climate survivalist Joe Cole holds dear in life is ripped from him, he will have to reclaim what he loves or die trying.

In a period of severe drought and near extinction of humanity, survivalist Jack Cole returns from scavenging to find his parents slaughtered, and Denverines soldiers have abducted his pregnant wife and child as birther stock for the citadel of Denver.

He vows to enter the citadel fortress of Denver to rescue them. But first he will have to overcome his own psychological demons, his lack of trust, and the bleak environment, in a journey filled with danger at every turn and to defeat the Denverines who have new orders. New communities are to be formed outside the citadels. To protect them, the president commands the Denverines to slaughter those on the outside with knowledge of the old ways of society.

When Jack teams up with and leads a group of exiles in his quest to rescue his family, if they fail, Jack’s failure will be a death sentence, not just for himself, but for all survivors in the wastelands.

Werecats Convergent by Mark J. EngelsWerecats Convergent by Mark J. Engels:

Defeated, conflicted, and on the run…

Born in an ethnic Chicago neighborhood following her family’s escape from Cold War-era Poland, were-lynx Pawly flees underground to protect her loved ones after genetically enhanced soldiers led by rogue scientist and rival werecat Mawro overrun her Navy unit in the Gulf of Oman. Pawly’s family seeks her out in a desperate gambit to return to their ancestral homeland and reconcile with their estranged kinsmen. But when her human lover arrives to thwart Mawro’s plan to weaponize their feral bloodlust, Pawly must face a daunting choice: preserve her family secrets and risk her lover’s life or chance her true nature driving him away forever.

Werecats Convergent is the second installment of the Forest Exiles Saga featuring the modern-day remnant of an ancient clan of werecats, torn apart as militaries on three continents vie to exploit their deadly talents. Stories which fans of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson franchise and Brad Magnarella’s Blue Wolf series can sink their teeth into!

Galaxy Unstable by M.R. ForbesGalaxy Unstable by M.R. Forbes:

Left stranded, his starship’s life support failing, Caleb initiates a distress signal, hoping that help will arrive before his time is up. Only the response to his plea isn’t what he had in mind…

Assuming command of an infamous pirate vessel, Caleb sets his sights on shaping the unruly and unpredictable crew into a skilled fighting force. It won’t be easy, but if Caleb wants to prevent the Legion from cementing their tyrannical grip on the galaxy, he’ll need to knuckle up, double down, and risk everything to make it happen.

Poet's Bane by Rachel FordPoet’s Bane by Rachel Ford:

An ancient legend. A mysterious evil. And – the mead of poetry?

Liss Forlatt and Idun Wintermoon are on vacation at a beautiful villa retreat, a place as famous for its legendary beginnings as its year-round sunshine.

Technically, they’re the protection detail for the newly married jarl of Little Eerie and his wife. But in a place where rainclouds are the biggest threat on any given day, it might as well be a vacation.

Until a man winds up dead in connection with an ancient fable – the mead of poetry, the supposed font of divine inspiration that guides all poets and writers.

The pair must unravel fact from fiction, myth from history – and avoid the blade of a particularly nasty killer in the process.

The Earthfather by Chris FoxThe Earthfather by Chris Fox:

Our Sector is Gone

We’ve discovered Terra, but the cost is bitter. All that remains is the Vagrant Fleet, carrying the refugees from every world.

Earth is our only hope, but their leaders don’t even believe in magic. We also have to convince the earth flight protecting them that we’re not hostiles. Did I mention the dread fleet is right behind us led by a dark god who seems to have a real hate-boner for Xal’Aran?

If we’re going to win, then we must harness the most powerful Catalyst in existence, the Eye of Om. We must fulfill a prophecy millions of years in the making, and find a way to elevate Aran and Nara to the Aranara, guardian of the Eye.

Anything less means complete annihilation, and if we fail here then we lost not just our own universe, but every reality as the dark titan breaks free and shatters the Great Cycle.

I cannot let that happen. I will not. Prophecy can be solved like a riddle, and somehow, I am going to find a way to outsmart them all.

Simultaneous Times Volume 3, edited by Jean Paul GarnierSimultaneous Times Volume 3, edited by Jean-Paul Garnier:

Space Cowboy Books Presents: Simultaneous Times Vol.3 Science Fiction Anthology. 16 wonderous stories of science fiction by authors from all over the world! From alien invasions to sentient planets to intergalactic species, this book has it all. Featuring stories from the two-time Hugo Award longlisted podcast Simultaneous Times, as well as stories appearing for the first time, this collection spans multiple generations of science fiction authors and covers a wide variety of SF styles and themes.

With stories by Jonathan Nevair, F. J. Bergmann, Brent A. Harris, Gideon Marcus, A. C. Wise, Tara Campbell, David Brin, Robin Rose Graves, Renan Bernardo, Christopher Ruocchio, Toshiya Kamei, Todd Sullivan, Susan Rukeyser, Ai Jiang, Cora Buhlert, Michael Butterworth. Cover art by Austin Hart. Edited by Jean-Paul L. Garnier

Of Moms and Monsters by Lily Harper HartOf Moms and Monsters by Lily Harper Hart:

Maddie Graves-Winters is looking forward to a week of relaxation with her best friends. She had no idea a camping trip would be so stressful, however. She might have been picturing s’mores and ghost stories around the campfire, but the world has other plans.

Having her best friends Ivy Morgan-Harker, Harper Harlow-Monroe, and Rowan Gray-Davenport—as well as their husbands and children—around for a full week is her idea of bliss. There’s just one little problem.

Maddie doesn’t consider herself a suspicious person by nature, but when one of the college-aged girls at a nearby campsite goes missing—and nobody seems to care—she’s intrigued. Then, when a mother at a different campsite also appears to have disappeared in the middle of the night, she’s officially on the case.

Maddie and her friends can’t seem to help themselves from investigating. Their husbands are another story. They’re convinced the women are making things up in their heads.

Who will turn out to be right? And if it’s the women, what happens when they draw a potential killer’s attention to their campsite?
The group is strongest when they’re together. But this trip might be the death of one of them.

Dragon Soup by Patty JansenDragon Soup by Patty Jansen:

Plain version; for the illustrated version, see the author’s website.

When Perrin was so desperate that he applied for a job with the Bureau of Magic Abuse, there were two things he didn’t realise. One, that he might actually get the job and two, that it would involve working with magic sniffers.

And what an annoyance the creatures are. They keep him up at night, need to feed on expensive fresh fruit and cause him embarrassment.

A new inn opens in town and patrons flock to it. Perrin checks it out for forbidden magic, finds none but something doesn’t add up. Is it the stranger, clearly a wizard, who makes little effort to cover up his illegal activities? Is it the owner of the new inn, who can’t possibly have accumulated enough money to buy the place? Or is it the unfailingly raving reviews?

Something fishy is going on, and his boss at the Bureau doesn’t even want him to investigate. But Perrin has never let that stop him.

Dark Park by Kathe KojaDark Park by Kathe Koja:

DARK FACTORY opened the doors to a reality-bending dance club, an online immersive portal, and the feeling that the whole world is on the brink of something new. DARK PARK takes you there.

DARK PARK follows visionary filmmaker Sergey Kendricks as he tracks Ari Regon and Felix the DJ through the fever and chaos of stardom and celebrity culture, while Max Caspar quests deeper into the unstable gaming landscape of Birds of Paradise: pursued and idolized by fans, acolytes, haters, and schemers, all dazed by beauty and searching for the end of the world.

DARK PARK is the encore to DARK FACTORY, Kathe Koja’s wholly original novel from Meerkat Press, that combines her award-winning writing and her skill directing immersive events, to create a story that unfolds on the page, online, and in the reader’s creative mind.

Crone Cold Dead by Amanda M. LeeCrone Cold Dead by Amanda M. Lee:

Scout Randall’s life has taken more turns than she was ready for, and it’s a new dawn in Hawthorne Hollow.

Her parents have arrived on the scene, and it turns out, they’ve been hiding in the shadows for years waiting for her.

The prophecy that foretold her winning what should be an unwinnable war, has enemies crawling out of the woodwork.

And, worst of all, she’s grappling with the realization that one of her own has betrayed her.

It’s too much for Scout to deal with, which means that the snowmen popping up around town and acting like sentries are barely a blip. When Bigfoot joins the fray, however, Scout realizes trouble is afoot.

All Scout wants is a few weeks to catch her breath. That’s not in the cards. Her life is starting to spiral, and now that she knows who the enemy is, the only thing she’s certain of is that she doesn’t have the strength to fight him.

Hawthorne Hollow is a magical nexus, and all the players are lining up. The ultimate fight isn’t far away, so when new faces appear, it’s easy to question if they’re friend or foe.

Who will come out victorious?

Imperial Hijacker by Andrew MoriartyImperial Hijacker by Andrew Moriarty:

Fleeing a smashed rebellion and near execution by their supposed allies, Dirk, Gavin, Dena and Ana abandon Scruggs and Lee during battle. When local medical treatment isn’t enough, Lee surrenders to the Imperials and arranges to surrender to Devin’s ship to save Scruggs’s life. When a botched meet-up leaves them all in Devin’s custody and surrounded by his Marines, it looks like time’s up for our heroes. But Devin gets startling news, and it’s not what it says, but what it doesn’t that worries him. He has a proposal of his own for Dirk and company. They’ll get Scruggs and what they want, but they might have to change sides!

If you like Galactic Empires, honorable enemies, and snappy dialog, this one’s for you!

Bad Habits by Hollis ShilohBad Habits by Hollis Shiloh:

Jack and Cameron have a good thing going. Jack is a burned out reporter and Cam is a fox shifter who gives him tips. They also meet up to play pinball…and to have sex. It’s a nice arrangement, no messy feelings involved, no pressure that neither one of them needs.

Cam is frightened by the idea of falling in love—been there, done that, got the scars to show for it—and Jack’s last relationship ended in a painful breakup. But things have been changing lately.

When there’s only one guy in the world you really want, is it going to work to keep pretending it’s just casual?

Mage-Queen's Thief by Glynn StewartMage-Queen’s Thief by Glynn Stewart:

She’s supposed to find a husband.
He’s supposed to steal a shuttle.
They’re each other’s only hope.

Kiera Alexander is the Mage-Queen of Mars, ruler of a hundred worlds and the protector of humanity. She is also unmarried and in desperate need of an heir—a duty that has left her traveling the Core Worlds of the Martian Protectorate aboard the luxury liner Extravagant Voyage.

Her mission? Meeting every eligible bachelor Mage that can be found.

Barry Carpentier’s only interest in the Queen’s traveling show is the strange shuttle hidden aboard Extravagant Voyage. The unique spacecraft, the smallest jump-capable ship he’s ever heard of, is worth a small fortune to the right buyer.
Like the one sending him aboard Extravagant Voyage.

A thief doesn’t want to meet the Mage-Queen of Mars—but when a thief accidentally inserts himself into galactic politics, neither of their lives will continue unchanged…

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