Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for December 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 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 epic fantasy, urban fantasy, gaslamp fantasy, sword and sorcery, fairy tale retellings, paranormal mystery, historical fantasy mystery, gothic thrillers, space opera, military science fiction, werecats, prophets, rougarous, starships, space marines, space pirates, crime-busting witches, haunted houses 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:

Prophet of a Blind God by Tim AkersProphet of a Blind God by Tim Akers:

Fleeing the Guild of the Wheel is no small task. Clinging to his fragmented memory and the pale sword that drives him, Lohit Maast makes his way to the swamps of the Mossmarch, where the Guild has no dominion. But in the cracks of the world, other powers gather. Strange figures stalk his dreams, and a secret cabal of Seers lurks in the shadows. In Lohit, they find the answer to their prophecy, and promise to help him recover his memories if he will assist them. But is their revelation one of hope, or destruction? Is Lohit their savior, or the herald of coming doom?

Federation Marine: Lieutenant by Jonathan P. BrazeeFederation Marine: Lieutenant by Jonathan P. Brazee:

As a certified “hero,” Sergeant Ryck Lysander gets offered a commission as a second lieutenant.

Only, he doesn’t feel like a hero, and his tendency to jump into a fight himself is at odds with his duties as an officer.

When first contact with an alien race turns into a full blown war, Ryck is thrust into combat once again, and the battle goes poorly.

Before he has time to take a breath, Ryck finds himself in a crises. Did he make a mistake by accepting the commission? Or will he rise to his newfound position?

With humankind facing an existential threat, one confused former hero won’t amount to much. A change from infantry to recon gives him one last chance to prove that he has what it takes to not only be a leader of men…

Grave Memories by Stacy ClaflinGrave Memories by Stacy Claflin:

The Brannon House stands as a deceptive facade, its past horrors refusing to dissipate into the shadows.

Ember Brannon is inexplicably drawn to an old gravestone bearing her own name, its forgotten presence casting an unsettling pall over her family’s ancestral home. As she becomes fixated on the stone and the long-forgotten life it represents, Ember’s reality begins to unravel. Vivid dreams transport her to a time shrouded in mystery, the tragic demise of her namesake becomes an obsession she won’t release.

Obsessions have their price. Ember awakens with muddy feet, evidence of nocturnal wanderings she can’t remember. The discovery of a hidden diary, chronicling the life of the other Ember, triggers a relentless spiral into fascination and compulsion. Her loved ones try to stop her, but she pushes everyone away.

Within the opulent halls of the Brannon House, Ember hurtles toward an impending breaking point. Is she fated to echo the tragedies that haunt her lineage, becoming another ghost within the estate’s dark history? Or will she find the strength to confront the enigma she’s become, and the danger that now stalks her every move?

Tomb of Heart and Shadow by Cara N. DelaneyTomb of Heart and Shadow by Cara N. Delaney:

Their marriage was a simple bargain. Love was not supposed to complicate things.

When her reputation-obsessed family issues her an ultimatum – get married or be disinherited – Saria seizes upon what seems like a most convenient solution. She strikes a deal with a stranger – marriage and a child in exchange for freedom and security. That her bride is a sorcerer from the mysterious city of Neeth is not a problem. Or so Saria thinks.

Taleysin doesn’t expect much from her second marriage. A child and heir to carry on her sworn duty to the city of Neeth, and more importantly, a wife who won’t ask too many questions. The deal with Saria seems to be everything she wants – and nothing more. She will have her heir, and Neeth will remain safe for another generation.

But soon enough, their resolve over their practical decision begins to crumble. While Saria grows ever more curious about Neeth’s magical secrets, Taleysin finds herself falling for a woman who was supposed to be nothing more than a means to an end. When a mysterious assailant begins to hunt down sorcerers, Saria and Taleysin must find a way to work through this shift in their relationship – to save both their marriage and the city.

The Saga of Pthren Four-Scars by Jeff DraperThe Saga of Othren Four-Scars by Jeff Draper:

A collection of three stories set in the same world of low magic and brutal savagery, where the first choice is usually violence followed by a second choice of more violence. In amongst the violences are a few very sweet character moments that will draw you into the world Othren Four-Scars is trying to protect.

The Battle of Raven Kill is the second story I ever had published, first appearing in “The Return of the Sword: An Anthology of Heroic Adventure”, edited by Jason Waltz. It’s a 1 vs 100 slugfest with mud, blood, cracked skulls, knife wounds, broken bones, and of course bookended by a touching father-daughter vignette.

The Feorhmaegan was a follow-up prequel to Raven Kill that gives us a better understanding of where our hero comes from and the type of adventures he’s had. (Spoilers: Violent ones!) I never found a publisher for it before moving on to other things but I think the quality is high enough to include it here.

The Witch of the Westmoors is a flash fiction piece first published in “Abandoned Towers, #3” by Cyberwizard Productions. It’s set in the same world, only years later and with new participants in the ancient struggle set up in the other two stories.

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

Cornered, captured, and determined to make their stand…

After springing her lover from the brig, Pawly and her family make ready to swipe a container from an ocean freighter transiting Lake Michigan—one containing the genetic material needed to save her mother from the debilitating effects of her unsated bloodlust. All according to Mawro’s plan, him having laid a trap for them on behalf of his rogue state employer. But Mawro’s superiors spring a trap of their own, exploiting Pawly’s feral rage by revealing to her a horrific secret from her past. Chaos ensues, leaving members of her family kidnapped, their remote island hideaway in flames, and her mother at death’s door. Now Pawly and the family—together with some unlikely new allies—must journey halfway around the world on a veritable suicide mission, a final showdown to rescue their loved ones and to quell her kind’s lethal bloodlust once and for all.

Werecats Resurgent is the third and final 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.

Battles Unfought by Rachel FordBattles Unfought by Rachel Ford:

A new ship. A new era. A new mission.

The Lady Bane is under new management. The military prototype turned privateer vessel is the new home and base of operations for Maggie, Kay, and the former crew of the Black Flag.

They’d prefer to spend some time getting to know the new ship. But when a high priority mission comes in from the admiralty, they can’t refuse.

The mission is straightforward: break into a secure facility owned and operated by a cabal of criminals, crack a state-of-the-art safe, and retrieve a data chip containing sensitive information.

The stakes are high. It’s a very secure facility, and very sensitive information. Wars have been waged for less.
The payout is huge – whatever they can lift from the safe, they can keep.

If they survive long enough to get away with it, anyway.

Masters of Hex by Lily Harper HartMasters of Hex by Lily Harper Hart:

Life in the French Quarter is about to calm down for the off-season, so of course things in Ofelia Archer’s life are about to heat up.

With Halloween right around the corner, all Ofelia wants to worry about is what couple’s costume she and her boyfriend Zach Sully are going to wear to the big reunion party being hosted for her former high school. Then the unthinkable happens and she senses Sully is in danger when he’s out on a case.

Ofelia swoops in, the mightiest witch in the French Quarter, and finds herself saving the love of her life shoulder-to-shoulder with his father.
Zeke Sully is all charm and secrets. He wants to win Ofelia over, but there are shadows chasing him…and dropping bodies all over the Quarter.

Sully doesn’t want anything to do with whatever his father is involved in. Ofelia doesn’t feel she can abandon her future father-in-law. That leads to some strife.

Some business deals can’t be undone, and Ofelia is about to get a glimpse of the seedy business underbelly in New Orleans. The question is, can she fix what’s been broken, or is it already too late?

The Rougarou Rigmarole by Amanda M. LeeThe Rougarou Rigmarole by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes joined the Legacy Foundation because she was looking for information on who she was. More important, she wanted to know why she could do the things she could do.

What she found out changed the course of her life.

Now the big fight is almost upon her. She’s supposed to be in New Orleans practicing her new abilities so she can be ready for that fight, but a local legend might derail everything.

Every state has its own version of the Bigfoot legend. In New Orleans, the beast is called the Rougarou and usually only appears following a great tragedy. The murder of some innocent teenagers in the French Quarter is just such a tragedy…but the killing isn’t over. No, not by a long shot.

Even though she knows she’s supposed to be focusing on the enemy that’s coming for her, Charlie can’t stop herself from digging into the case of the Rougarou…and what she finds might just send her over the edge.

New Orleans is the type of city that holds a million secrets. Charlie is about to discover a big one.

With the help of her motley crew of characters—including a visiting mage who is determined to help and a fledgling crossroads demon who is determined to be a hindrance—Charlie has a battle in front of her. It will be good practice for the big one, which is right around the corner.

She just has to survive long enough to fight both enemies.

It won’t be as easy as anybody wants it to be.

A Death at the Dionysos Club by Melissa Scott and Amy GriswoldA Death at the Dionysus Club by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold:

Secrets, Magic and Murder…

The gentleman’s clubs of Scott and Griswold’s gaslamp fantastical London are full of secrets and the ones that Julian Lynes and Ned Mathey and their circles frequent are even more hidden than most. Beneath their respectable, or less respectable, façades, they are a haven…or a torment for men who desire each other’s company. Now someone is leaving a trail of murder victims, each one found without a heart. Each one somehow connected to Lynes, Mathey, their friends, their enemies and the communities that they belong to. Finding the murderer could reveal everything, leading to certain ruin for some, and the loss of all they hold dear for Julian and Ned. How far will they go to solve the mystery and stop a killer?

Mirror of My Heart by Laura WeyrMirror of My Heart by Laura Weyr:

When the happily ever after isn’t the one you expect.

Once upon a time, a spoiled princess met her youthful new stepmother, a woman as cold as she was beautiful. . .or so she seemed.

Once upon a time, a queen burdened a girl with harsh tasks, yet never heavier than she could bear. . .and so a princess became strong and wise.

Once upon a time, in the midst of loneliness, two hearts touched love. . .until a king returned from war to find his daughter grown into the very likeness of her dead mother.

Now fled to the forest, her beloved a prisoner, can Snow White win her happily ever after?

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