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 March books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, all the links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.
This time around, we have science fiction, YA fantasy, paranormal romance, historical fantasy, a fairy tale retelling, haunted small towns, magical inns, superheroes, zombies, necromancers, frost mages, death witches, a magical wetnurse, gargoyles and unicorns. We even have a non-fiction book, a collection of essays about science fiction.
As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books themselves, so Caveat emptor.
And now on to the books:
My name is Mike “Magnet” Williams. I’ve come a long way. These days I have my own ship, the Rubens. We stole it from the Toralii Alliance. For the last year the Rubens has been tasked with ‘counter-logistical privateering’ against the Toralii Alliance, attacking their military supply network.
We hit them hard, we get out, we do it all over again. Modern day buccaneers given total autonomy. We’re alone, without another Human within a thousand light years.
If only that were true.
Somewhere out in the black, around a remote moon covered in ice that’s kilometres thick, we found something. Something that was not supposed to be there. Something we were not supposed to find.
I can take a lot of pressure. Fighter pilots are supposed to be able to do that. Whatever the universe throws at me, I can handle it. So far I’ve faced aliens, friendly and otherwise, and I’ve seen things that so very few Humans have. I’ve dealt with it all.
But not this. Not my own conscience.
The Guests of Honor: Tales from the Virtue Inn by Cat Amesbury
Welcome to the Virtue Inn
Honor Desry’s only employee is a magical nudist, her guest list has an abnormal fascination with eels, and a surprising number of household objects are trying to hurt her.
When Honor’s mother mysteriously disappeared, Honor became responsible for both her younger sisters and the family inn. Now, all Honor wants to do is run the inn, pay the bills, and not get killed by her unusually violent toaster.
Unfortunately for Honor, the Virtue Inn has more secrets than it does rooms and the Guests are restless. If Honor wants to keep her house –and her head- she’s going to have to learn how to please The Guests of Honor.
Warning: Contains some violence, profanity, innuendo, and semi-sentient household objects.
Rosamonde by Christopher Bunn
The real story of Sleeping Beauty has never been told. At least, not until this moment. Rosamonde is the reluctant princess of Bordavia, a tiny, peaceful country in central Europe. Life is perfectly pleasant until an aggressive prince arrives, complete with a hot air balloon and romantic designs on Rosamonde’s hand. What’s a girl to do? Pigs, trickery and derring-do abound, along with a great deal of napping, of course.
Awkward know-it-all Tabitha Slate was born and raised in Seattle. Her life consists of Friday night fights with her family for the remote control, her crappy minimum wage job, and convincing her sisters that collecting action figures doesn’t disqualify her from being Black or a girl.
Then Tabitha blunders into the Wardein, those sworn to police the supernatural hybrids and legendary creatures of the city. She reluctantly abandons her dreams of being the popular girl on her new campus, to adopt a position of power in a hidden world with a dangerous learning curve.
When a physicist that uses Seattle’s population for monstrous experiments wants Tabitha as the next subject, Tabitha has to accept the darkness she’s capable of, or lose everything.
“What is the Void?”
The world watched in horror the day the mysterious being known as ‘the Void’ made its presence known to the world. But for John Parker it would be remembered as the day his son disappeared without a trace.
Desperate for answers, John begins a life-changing search for his lost child that brings him to the brink of despair while the FBI uncovers a link between John’s missing child and a Void-worshiping cult called The Brotherhood.
For some, death is the end. For others, such as Michael Nolan, death is only the beginning. Reborn into a world unlike any he could have dreamed of, Michael is thrust into The Guild—an elite squadron of supernatural beings. They are the guardians of the modern world and the only thing standing between peace and chaos.
Struggling to come to terms with the loss of his previous life, and to understand his new powers, Michael is forced to adapt quickly when The Guild is betrayed and comes under attack from within.
With time against them, Michael and his allies set out to discover the identity of the traitor before The Guild is destroyed and the world is left unprotected. However, when the one person Michael loves becomes a target, he is left with a difficult decision…
Should he defend the woman he loves or stand by his allies?
It is not a peaceful time in the Algardis Empire. War is raging between the mages and seventeen-year-old Sara Fairchild will be right in the middle of it.
She just doesn’t know it yet.
Sara is the daughter of a disgraced imperial commander, executed for desertion. Sara is also the best duelist and hand-to-hand combatant in Sandrin. She lives quietly with her family’s shame but when challenged about her family’s honor, her opponent inevitably loses.
On the night she finds out her father’s true last actions, she takes the Mercenary Guilds’ vows to serve in the emperor’s army. Using her quick wits and fierce fighting skills, she earns a spot in the first division.
There she discovers secrets the mages on both sides would prefer stay hidden. Dark enemies hunt her and soon it’s not just Sara questioning the motivation behind this war.
While fighting mages, blackmailing merchants and discovering new friends, Sara comes across something she’s never had before – passion. The question is – can she fight for her empress against a mage who might unwittingly claim her heart?
This is year one of the Initiate Wars. Sara is hoping it doesn’t become the year she dies.
Vivia Brisk knows about the dead. She should. She’s died enough times.
Vivia is a hag – or death witch – one of the last of her race, and can die, visit the underworld and return at will. As a consultant with charity The Lipscombe Trust, she has a job she loves — helping London’s most vulnerable supernaturals, even if her colleague Malcolm drives her round the bend on a daily basis.
Vivia thinks she’s got Malcolm’s measure – sexist, not too bright and generally a pain in the ass, but then Malcolm zombifies and, along with his fourteen year old son Ben, flees the police.
With a zombie on the loose, London goes into lock down and Vivia is roped in into find them. After all, Malcolm can only keep control so long without fresh flesh, and the risk of the zompocalypse increases the longer he’s on the lam.
At first what happened seems simple, but then the police find decades-old corpses hidden near Malcolm’s house, and Vivia begins to realise Malcolm’s missing son is in a lot more danger than from just a single zombie on the loose…
WAR OF WITCHES
From the author of Creatures and Crypts and Frozen Stiff comes an all new horror.
They are followers of a different path, a way of magic and mystery, of old customs and ancient knowledge. In their world appearances can mean so much but those appearances are not always what they seem.
Isabelle Thicket, a sorceress of the black arts is about to collide with Jacob Norsen, a sorcerer of white magic, and all Hell will break loose. Isabelle will stop at nothing to get what she wants and Jacob will do anything to protect those he loves. Two of the most powerful forces of nature will clash in a battle to the death and their power will unleash a greater evil…an old, hungering evil that will threaten the world.
There’s no safe place to hide from… The Fetch.
When Maryn loses her baby, husband, and home, becoming a wet-nurse seems like her best opportunity for a new life, especially when she qualifies for a position with the royal family. But nursing an infant prince exposes her to dangers she never could have imagined. Caught in the middle of a bloody struggle for the throne, Maryn will need all her wits and courage to survive. Both her enemies and allies consider her a helpless pawn. But if she can master the dangerous magic of blood and milk she’ll have a chance to defy those who will do anything to seize power—even threaten the child she’s coming to love as her own.
Pierre Salvador has returned to court after graduating early, and a party in his honour happens that very evening. But feeling unwell so shortly after his travels the princeling excuses himself from dancing-and-flirting with Lady Elizabeth Anne, and retreats to his room with a black cat in tow. In addition to medical studies, Pierre has almost finished the last task set by Mora, lady of death, to complete his knowledge of necrocræft. Enthralled with the illegal magic, the power over life and death, he consorts with Mora as he also begins to court Elizabeth.
In a silo where cleanings are a cause for celebration and are handled by a crew of teenage boys, a hazing initiation goes horribly wrong. The silo leadership hunts for the boys to clean – this time without the safety of the silo waiting for them when they finish.
The story is told through the lens of teenage girls Petra and Tavi. Enamored with the cleaning crew, the girls find themselves on the wrong side of a manhunt to find the boys. Just like the girls, the reader doesn’t really find out what is really happening with the adults in the silo until the final, deadly confrontation.
A novella set in the world of Hugh Howey’s Wool.
Creativity is magic, with imagination the only limit to its power. Yet others choose instead to channel the power of destruction. Or so the myths say. Neither has been seen in centuries—until now.
Simon Baroba joined the Pazian legions to make a name for himself, rejecting his father’s failing business, and his late mother’s faith.
Shadush leads the Scentari and lusts for revenge on the Pazian Republic that stole his people’s land. And he will have it—through his mastery of the power of dark flames.
In the aftermath of Shadush’s slaughter of the legion, Simon stumbles across his own buried creative abilities. As he explores the potential of his Talent with Elysia, the intriguing young woman who secretly creates sculptures of incredible beauty, Simon discovers much more about the evil magic he faces.
In order to save his friends, himself, and the entire Republic, Simon must navigate a treacherous maelstrom of political intrigue and shifting allegiances, torn between ambition and curiosity, duty and love.
ARTS REBORN is a new fantasy series set in the Republic of Pazh, home to diverse peoples and cultures, reminiscent of ancient Rome, Greece and the Mediterranean. It follows the story of the individuals touched by these opposing magical forces of artistic creation and malevolent destruction.
Frost Magic by Kathryn A. Miller
*** This is a novella of 13,700 words ***
Jackie Frost lives in Normal Springs, Ohio, where nothing is quite as it seems. For example, Jackie is a Frost Mage who can make anything freeze up in an instant — the same way she freezes up around hunky firefighter Dante.
Nonetheless, sparks fly between the two, and not just the magical fireflies that infest Jackie’s apartment. Is it true love, or just the magic of mistletoe?
Thanks to her offbeat mother, Shade’s full name is Galactic Shade Griffin. Having a name like that while being the new girl in school is pretty much catnip for bullies. The summer before Shade’s junior year of high school, her mother breaks up with yet another boyfriend and moves them once again to a new town.
This time, they move into a dilapidated old house where Shade has an entire attic bedroom to herself—at least until she discovers it’s haunted by the ghost of a teenaged boy named Brandon Yates. When Shade’s best friend goes missing, her life becomes even more complicated. With the help of Brandon who’s struggling with his own issues in the world beyond, Shade faces the question of whether or not she has what it takes to become a true hero.
Finding the man of your dreams can be a real nightmare…
As the future prima, or head witch of her clan, Angela McAllister is expected to bond with her consort during her twenty-first year, thus ensuring that she will come into her full powers at the appointed time. The clock is ticking down, and her consort has yet to make an appearance. Instead, her dreams are haunted by a man she’s never seen, the one she believes must be her intended match.
But with time running out, and dark forces attempting to seize her powers for their own, Angela is faced with a terrible choice: give up her dreams of the man she may never meet and take the safer path, or risk leaving her clan and everyone in it at the mercy of those who seek their ruin.
Darkangel is the first book in The Witches of Cleopatra Hill, a paranormal romance trilogy set in the haunted town of Jerome, Arizona.
The Devil Came Down to Mayfield by Landon Porter
They survived an evil sorceress. They stood up to an organization bent on experimenting on them. They even weathered their own, internal storms.
Now the Descendants must face a new challenge: living their lives. From reconnecting with their families and mentors, to delving into romance, they’re about to learn that there’s more to being superheroes than squaring off against bad guys.
Of course, while they try tending to their personal lives, evil isn’t lying idle. They face new baddies in the form of New York’s Tongs, extra-dimensional monsters and… cyborg nerds?
They are heroes. They are people. This is their story.
Styled after works from the Bronze Age of Comic Books, The Descendants is presented in a unique manner: as an all-prose comic book complete with issues, specials and annuals, each telling a complete story that ties into the overall tale of the titular superheroes.
It is also written as a throwback and love letter to an earlier age of superheroes, to a time before everything was grim and gritty and when comic books were fun.
In the distant past, a city of wizards was menaced by horrible Night Mares. The wizards carved hideous gargoyles out of stone, bringing them to life using the magical Heart of Rock, to defend their city.
Now the Heart of Rock is needed to save another kingdom, and one brave cobbler must find it.
But the gargoyles cannot live without their talisman; will the cobbler’s quest to save his kingdom doom theirs?
“Heart of Rock” is three interconnected short stories that look at the question: when one questing hero finds a magical amulet, what happens to those who’ve lost it?
In an age when people lived off the land and the Wild was still wild—when a young Queen warmed the throne and her Bulwark Knights patrolled the unruly borders—the edge of civilization was a place where dreams went to die.
Welcome to Southwind.
Asher’s best friend has been poisoned.
He has three days to live.
The only cure: a unicorn horn.
The only place to find one:
Dragoncliff Cove, where none dare go.
Book #1 in a series of fantasy novellas.
AN EXPLORATION OF THE TROPES OF SCIENCE FICTION BY A WRITER, AUTHOR, AND FAN
From Empire to Rebel, from Faster Than Light to Wagon Train to the Stars, join one of science fiction’s rising authors as he explores the central themes and tropes of the genre. Originally written for the 2013 Blogging from A to Z Challenge, these twenty-six chapters run through the letters of the alphabet to examine the different facets of the science fiction experience. At times forward-looking and at other times nostalgic, this book is both a treatise on what makes science fiction great and a love letter to the genre from one of its most ardent life-long fans.