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 authors newly published this month, though some February 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. We have science fiction, space opera, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, Norse mythology, alternate history, time travel, young adult SFF, Steampunk, vampires, witches, mermaids, dwarves, vengeful Norse gods, South African werewolves, post-apocalyptic owl queens, fox shifters, magic schools, superheroes, airships, interstellar archeologists, plucky teenaged cooks in outer space and much more. This month’s round-up also features authors from the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Bulgaria.
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:
Time Slip by M.L. Banner
His invention would have changed the world…
if the world hadn’t ended first.
By accident, Dr. Ron invented a time slip, a way to travel through time. When he finds out his wife is dying of a rare cancer and the cure is five years away, he decides to slip forward in time and bring the cure back to the present. Only, this is a one-way trip and he arrives right after an apocalypse has brought the world back to a new Stone Age.
Survival for Dr. Ron, his wife and even that of the rest of the world, just became a race against the clock.
Elves and Escapades by Eleanor Beresford
In some disgrace after the events of the preceding term, Charley is determined to redeem herself, and resolve her complicated love life. The Christmas holidays change her life forever, but before she finds her feet again, she and her friends are drawn into dark, old magic.
A magical YA school story with a sapphic twist, the second in the Scholars and Sorcery series, following Pegasi and Prefects.
Scholars and Sorcery is a series of young adult fantasy novels set in an alternate version of 1950s England in which elves invaded in the far past, leaving magic and mythical creatures such as fairies and dragons behind them. It features lesbian heroines and a sweet dollop of romance.
The Shard by Ted Cross
A dying king. A mysterious invader. The seer’s vision was clear: find the lost shard from the Spire of Peace or the realm would drown in blood.
The problem: eight hundred years ago the elven hero Kathkalan took the shard with him into the lair of the most vicious dragon ever known to mankind…and he never returned.
Reluctantly drafted to lead the quest is the minor noble Midas, torn between his duty to the realm and the desire to protect his sons. With an unlikely band of heroes, including two elderly rangers and a young tinker’s son, Midas must risk losing everything he loves if he is to locate the shard and save the Known Lands.
Edifice Abandoned by Scott Michael Decker
Inbound on an interstellar flight, Archeologist Nosuma Okande sees far more ancient sites to excavate on Achernar Tertius than the Institute has on record. Setting out to unearth these sites proves more of a challenge than she realizes, bringing her into conflict with local villages and ancient traditions—and with a shadowy force called the Madziva Mutupo, the Hippopotamus Totem.
Cast in Stone by A.F. Dery
After her parents are murdered by a brutal warlord, Celia makes it her ultimate mission to bring him to justice, but she can’t do it alone.
Rupert is a criminal mage whose sentenced execution is commuted if he agrees to serve as Celia’s Guardian until her mission is complete.
But what looks like the perfect opportunity for them both quickly turns into the perfect catastrophe. In the fall out, she is betrayed by those she trusted most. Now on the run, Celia and Rupert find not only their lives in jeopardy, but also their hearts.
Torn between her old vow and a new love, Celia must choose justice…or vengeance.
Wolf Logic by Masha du Toit
Never trust a werewolf. That’s Gia’s first lesson as she enters the wolf cages at Special Branch, the police force that deal with the illegal use of magic. But working with the tracker-werewolves is not the greatest danger she faces: Gia is a spy. She risks torture and death if her secret is discovered.
Then Gia receives shocking news. Her little brother has disappeared, taken out of his bed, in the middle of the night. She doesn’t want to believe that Special Branch is responsible, but who did take Nico? Could it be the magical terrorists, the Belle Gente? Or is there another, even stranger explanation?
Contemporary fantasy set in Cape Town, South Africa: Wolf Logic is the sequel to Crooks and Straights.
Heart of the Kraken by A.W. Exley
Legend says if you consume the heart of a mermaid, you will know all of a man’s secrets.
Ailin doesn’t care if the legend is true or not – she’s stuck in a crate on her way to feature as the main course at a lavish banquet. Her heart to be served while still beating for a cruel noble while the rest of her is sliced into sashimi. Unless she can escape.
Across the ocean, Fenton longs for a different release. Sold as a child by men who labelled him a mistake, a failed experiment. Except he has one valuable skill, he can summon the dreaded kraken. Bought by a pirate, he has only known life at sea, wielded as a tool by the captain.
Two lives collide when the pirates capture the vessel holding Ailin. The kraken holds the key to Ailin’s freedom but in summoning the beast one last time, Fenton must choose between losing his life or his heart…
The Last Mermaid by Ian Fraser
The Last Mermaid is about the coming of age of a young girl in a small island community off the coast of Maine. It is set in an alternative1940’s. Hitler has conquered Europe, and the US faces an imminent invasion. A German-speaking family struggles to maintain a semblance of normality as the possibility of internment draws near.
Ragnarok by C. Gockel
Loki vowed Asgard would burn.
Bohdi Patel, latest incarnation of Chaos, wants nothing to do with Loki’s psychotic oath.
Stranded on the icy world of Jotunheim with Amy Lewis, his friend Steve Rogers, and an unlikely band of civilians, magical beings, and elite military, Bohdi just wants to keep himself and his friends alive … but when you’re Chaos incarnate, even the simplest goals are complicated.
If Jotunheim doesn’t kill them, Odin will, and if Odin doesn’t, the secrets they harbor might.
In the final installment of I Bring the Fire, Bohdi, Amy, Steve, and their companions learn that Chaos cannot be contained, some secrets cannot be kept, and some vows cannot be broken.
The Fires of Yesterday by Mark R. Healy
The Earth is in ruins. Cities and nations are destroyed.
Brant is a synthetic, a machine made in the image of man who dreams of bringing humans back into the world. Close to achieving his goal, his tiny cradle of life is now threatened by ominous black clouds that roll in from the north and bring darkness to the land.
In the wasteland, the cannibalistic Marauders begin to escalate their war with the resistance fighters of Ascension. As resources dwindle, both sides become more ruthless, endangering all within the region.
Brant will be forced to once again return to the wasteland and into the midst of the battle to confront the source of the darkness in an attempt to save all that he has created.
This is book 3 of the Silent Earth series, following After the Winter and The Seeds of New Earth.
Nestor deNeffo by R.D. Henderson
A fantasy novella that is second in a series that follows the exploits of the conniving, calculating, and corrupt black elf intelligence operative as he expands his criminal activities to the surface when he is involved in a scheme to sell weapons up there.
The Pyramids of London by Andrea K. Höst
In a world where lightning sustained the Roman Empire, and Egypt’s vampiric god-kings spread their influence through medicine and good weather, tiny Prytennia’s fortunes are rising with the ships that have made her undisputed ruler of the air.
But the peace of recent decades is under threat. Rome’s automaton-driven wealth is waning along with the New Republic’s supply of power crystals, while Sweden uses fear of Rome to add to her Protectorates. And Prytennia is under attack from the wind itself. Relentless daily blasts destroy crops, buildings, and lives, and neither the weather vampires nor Prytennia’s Trifold Goddess have been able to find a way to stop them.
With events so grand scouring the horizon, the deaths of Eiliff and Aedric Tenning raise little interest. The official verdict is accident: two careless automaton makers, killed by their own construct.
The Tenning children and Aedric’s sister, Arianne, know this cannot be true. Nothing will stop their search for what really happened.
Not even if, to follow the first clue, Aunt Arianne must sell herself to a vampire.
Lay of Runes: Dwarf’s Ransom by M.L. Larson
Jari, a young dwarf from an isolated kingdom, is sent out to find his trouble-making brothers. After being saved by a stranger from being trampled by a horse, Jari finds himself with a new companion in this strange land. As they search for Jari’s kin, they find more trouble made than either of them had anticipated. Soon, Jari’s missing brothers are implicated in the murder of a god, making their return home all the more urgent. But when they are finally found in a distant land, troubles only seem to get worse for Jari and the companions he’s picked up along the way.
This is book 2 of the Lay of Runes series, following Sky Treader.
The Other Car by Paul Levinson
James Oleson is beginning to see everything in perfect duplicate – two identical models of cars which are the same down to scuff marks and license plate, two old philosophy books with the same torn pages and inscription in old ink, and twin mail men. Is he losing his mind, or experiencing the birth of a new alternate reality via binary fission?
Dissident by Cecilia London
She once was important. Now she’s considered dangerous.
In a new America where almost no one can be trusted, Caroline lies unconscious in a government hospital as others decide her fate. She is a political dissident, wanted for questioning by a brutal regime that has come to power in a shockingly easy way. As she recovers from her injuries, all she has are her memories. And once she wakes up, they may not matter anymore.
Part One of a Six Part Series. Each part is a full length novel between 60,000-120,000 words and ends in a cliffhanger. For readers 18+. This saga contains adult situations, including non-gratuitous violence, explicit (consensual) sex, psychological and physical trauma, and an oftentimes dark and gritty plot (particularly in part two).
Back to the Viper by Antara Man
The Jackal had the chance to shoot to the top of the charts”
” until they blew their live showcase in The Viper Room.
Four misfits in a music band called The Jackal — single mother Ashley on the vocals, Hollywood stuntman Wane the guitarist, computer techie Craig banging the drums and Chad the ‘bent’ photographer doing the back vocals. And then they blew their live debut on The Viper Room. Now ten years on, the four are roiling in their own mud of guilt and regret. They’re not built to be prisoners of their own making, that’s for sure.
Then an oddball scientist turns up with an offer they can’t refuse – time travel. Can it make a difference? Will it? Who’s to say what they’re letting themselves in for?
No man is free who cannot control himself. Will time travel make any of those four anyone’s favorite person?
Awakened by C. Steven Manley
Chicago journalist Israel Trent and Erin Simms- a woman with a life she’d rather not have -awake in a modern day dungeon and are thrust into a world of shadowy government agencies, secret societies, and fringe sciences so far beyond understanding they might as well be magic. To survive in this secret world, they must face down a powerful doomsday cult intent on opening a gateway for their alien masters while simultaneously coming to grips with the unearthly power locked deep within their own DNA.
Our Fair Eden by Harry Manners
Welcome to Eden, citizen. The fate of the world is in your hands. Don’t forget to wipe you feet!
Our Fair Eden is a near-future dystopian mystery, marrying technothriller with hard sci-fi against a background of climate change and spellbinding narrative.
It’s 2087, and the Earth’s climate is in wild fluctuation. The Amazon Basin is a sun-baked graveyard, the Gobi is blossoming into tropical beauty, Europe is buried beneath icy tundra, and Manhattan is a swamp of the risen Atlantic. Old paradises are becoming new wasteland, old wasteland a new breed of paradise.
Nowhere is safe. Millions flee the world’s cities. But where do they run to?
The UN has an answer: the Eden Projects, colonies drawn from all nations, leading the charge in beginning anew, and developing new technologies to help start over.
Desh can’t believe his luck when he wins the lottery to Eden Prime, most famous of all the Projects, hidden in the heart of Mongolia. But when he arrives in Eden, he finds himself caught in a struggle against a cruel autocracy, divided into gentry and peasants, all under the watchful eye of mysterious Texan matriarch, Mother Eden.
Hidden Falls by Stephanie Marks
All that Seline Michaelson needed was some time to get away from the city to clear her head. She never expected to meet a man that could make her forget about her ex-boyfriend while staying with her cousin, until she met James.
But what started as a simple vacation in the small town of Hidden Falls, quickly became a lesson that would put everything Seline thought she knew about the world to the test. Because everything seems to grow bigger in the mountains, especially the wolves.
Protector by Christine Pope
Caitlin McAllister has been keeping a secret. While her clan suffers for lack of a seer, she’s been hiding her gift of second sight—hiding and running away from a destiny she does not want and has done her best to escape. Unfortunately, she finds that keeping secrets carries its own price when she and two of her friends end up in the hands of three evil warlocks who seem intent on using the young witches for their own dark purposes.
Far from her clan’s territory, Caitlin turns to Alex Trujillo, whose grandmother is the prima of the de la Paz witch clan and whose own gift is the ability to cast a unique kind of protective spell, to help her with tracking down the warlocks who planned the kidnapping.
As Alex and Caitlin work together to save her friends, they find themselves falling under one another’s spell. But their combined talents may not be enough to save the kidnapped witches… or to stop a murderous conspiracy that threatens the safety of all the Arizona witch clans.
This is book 5 of the Witches of Cleopatra Hill series.
Company Daughter by Callan Primer
A girl. A saucepan. A plan to conquer the universe.
Aleta Dinesen doesn’t see the point of hanging around home, not when she can cook a mean paella. But her plan to conquer the universe one meal at a time runs afoul of her overprotective father, commander of a tough mercenary company. And when he puts his foot down, he’s got the firepower to back it up.
Undeterred, Aleta escapes the dreadnaught she calls home one step ahead of the gorgeous, highly disapproving Lieutenant Park, the unlucky young officer tasked with hauling her back. But the universe isn’t the safe place she thought it was. Stranded in a dangerous mining community, she clings to survival by her fingernails. Only by working with someone she can’t stand will she have a chance to escape, proving to everyone that a teenage cook can be the most dangerous force in the universe
No Way Home, edited by Alex Roddie and Lucas Bale
Stories From Which There is No Escape.
Nothing terrifies us more than being stranded. Helpless, forsaken, cut-off. Locked in a place from which there is no escape, no way to get home.
A soldier trapped in an endless war dies over and over, only to be awakened each time to fight again – one of the last remaining few seeking to save mankind from extinction.
In rural 70s England, an RAF radio engineer returns to an abandoned military installation, but begins to suffer hallucinations, shifts in time and memories that are not his own.
A widower, one of ten thousand civilian space explorers, is sent alone to determine his assigned planet’s suitability for human colonisation, but stumbles across a woman who is part of the same programme and shouldn’t be there at all.
A suicidal woman in a poverty-stricken near-future America, where political apathy has allowed special interests to gain control of the country, takes part in a particularly unpleasant crowd-funding platform, established by the nation’s moneyed elite to engage the masses.
An assassin from the future, sent back in time to murder an insurgent, is left stranded when he fails in his mission and knows he will soon cease to exist.
These sometimes dark, sometimes heart-warming, but always insightful stories and more are to be found in No Way Home, where eight of the most exciting new voices in speculative fiction explore the mental, physical and even meta-physical boundaries that imprison us when we are lost.
Call of Kythshire by Missy Sheldrake
The existence of the fairies of Kythshire is a secret kept for over a century…
Azaeli has trained from a young age in order to follow in her parents’ footsteps and become a Knight of His Majesty’s Elite. When she finally becomes a Squire, her name is mysteriously left off of the list for the King’s Quest. Her parents set off without her, but the simple quest goes awry leaving tragedy in its wake. With the help of her lifelong friend, Rian, a Mage apprentice, Azaeli must unravel a sinister plot that threatens both the existence of Kythshire and the peace that her people have celebrated for generations.
Call of Kythshire includes over a dozen beautifully rendered illustrations in this author-illustrator’s debut novel. Enjoy full color illustrations in the digital version and black-and-white images in the Paperback.
Joey and the Fox by Hollis Shiloh
Asshole cop. It’s Joey’s role, and one he’s comfortable with. Joey tells gay jokes. He’s crude, tough, and thick-skinned. But now he’s got a chance to work with a fox shifter—and he doesn’t want to lose that opportunity.
Dylan is a mess: clingy and broken, cheerful but lost, seriously unpredictable…and very gay. But Joey desperately wants the partnership to succeed. He’s not willing to lose the fox shifter for any reason, even when Dyl drives him crazy.
Is there any way to make it work? And will the weird attraction he feels to the cute redhead ever go away?
Grand Master’s Pawn by Aurora Springer
A thousand years in the future, wars and portal failures disturb the fringes of the galaxy. On Terra, twenty-two year old Violet Hunter seems an ordinary student of the Space Academy, who dreams of exploring unknown planets. She applies to serve as the pawn of one of the twelve Grand Masters, although her hidden talent of empathy makes her ineligible. Violet has defied the prohibition against psychics for half her life. Why should she stop now?
Isolation is the penalty for a Grand Master’s great power because their touch is deadly to a normal person. The Grand Master with the griffin avatar selected the girl with the star-shaped birthmark in spite of her father’s dire prophesy. He is suspicious about his disobedient pawn, yet he cannot deny the success of her missions to strange planets where she finds more than he expected.
Violet seeks the truth about the mysterious Grand Masters. Who or what are they? Do they threaten or benefit civilization? While searching for answers, Violet does the unthinkable. She makes a bargain with her obnoxious Grand Master and challenges him to meet her face to face, risking her secret to discover his purpose. She plunges into an impossible love and a world of intrigues. Can she survive the vicious conflicts?
Acorn 666: Episode 1 by Josh St. John
The Human Apocalypse has Ended… Within the destruction left from the fire that fell from the sky, only the animals remain. Prophesied by the Owl Queen and her loyal army for years, the Apocalypse has started a war of control between the various factions of animals left behind — revealing ancient magic passed down from generation to generation. From the noble woodland creatures led by a quiet and mysterious council, to the domesticated animals who were once companions for humankind everywhere.
The Animal Apocalypse Begins…
Outside of the warring factions of animals left behind, the owls who foretold of the Apocalypse have regrouped. With the return of magic, the war has grown into a struggle of power. Not only power over the arcane, but power over life… and death. The Owl Queen has foretold of a new prophecy. One where owls rule the land under her command. In order to grow her army, the Queen comes up with a painful curse. A curse that will transform anyone who ingests it into a bloodthirsty and frenetic owl, hellbent on destruction. A curse that will make this prophecy come true. The prophecy of Acorn 666.
Don’t eat the acorns.
Sac’a’rith: Rebirth by Vincent Trigili
All Zah’rak wanted to do was train and work with Narcion, but now Narcion is dead, leaving Zah’rak and the others without guidance or a plan. Cyborgs, Resden, and many others are after their blood, while Phareon tries to be their puppeteer.
Before Zah’rak can get far, Raquel reappears and offers them their dream: to be real wizards and full members of the Wizard Kingdom, but Zah’rak does not trust her or the offer.
Meanwhile, the Korshalemian sorcerers are up to their old tricks again, and it is up to Zah’rak, Raquel, and the others to discover their new plan and prevent a new great war.
The Lost Tales of Power is an open-ended series of Sci-Fi/Fantasy books set in a vast multiverse featuring a mixture of traditional fantasy and science fiction elements.
Never Sleep by Cady Vance
127 days without sleep…
Thora Green had a life once upon a time. But that ended the day her parents enrolled her in sleep clinic prison. At the facility, her chronic months-long insomnia is observed by scads of doctors, but she is never actually treated for her dire disease. In a feat of desperation, Thora escapes and heads straight for New York City. Buried deep in the city’s underbelly, there is rumored to be a secret haven called the Insomniacs’ Café: a place where people like Thora can find relief.
As Thora joins forces with Aiden and Florence, two fellow insomniacs, their midnight quest will take them from the dusty bookshelves of The Strand, to the smokey underground clubs in the Lower East Side, to countless taxi and subway rides. Clues leading to their final destination are waiting for them at every turn. But so are Sleepers–a powerful core of sworn-enemies to all Insomniacs– who wish to see Thora and her friends destroyed at any cost.
Flashpoint by Indigo Wilder
Caia is a fresh college graduate who has the power to start a fire with the snap of her fingers. She isn’t ready to grow up and settle down in real life. But ready or not, real life is coming for her. When out-of-towner Brandt bumps into her too many times to be coincidence, Caia begins to realize that her parents might not be who they say they are. They have a secret, one they are willing to die to protect.
Ash is a Guardian, genetically enhanced to be stronger, faster, and smarter than an ordinary human. Cool, collected, and highly trained, Ash is one of the Agency’s best. But when a long time missing Guardian draws the attention of the Guild, an organization of powerful rune masters, things get personal for Ash. Very personal.
Caia is swept up into Ash’s world of super soldiers and rune masters and propelled toward an uncertain future. But one thing is always certain when playing with fire – someone is bound to get burned.