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 January 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 hard science fiction, military science fiction, space opera, science fiction romance, paranormal romance, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, horror, weird western, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, young adult fantasy, werewolves, vampires, witches, dragons, ghosts, djinns, magic schools, pirate airships, monkey queens, demon hunters, repentant assassins, erupting super-volcanoes 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:
2131: PREPARE FOR WAR
Beautiful and impoverished, Lauren Vasquez joined the United States military in her youth. She never expected to witness the destruction of Earth. In the year 2131, nuclear and chemical war fueled by religion obliterates all of civilization. Trapped in underground bunkers Lauren and other survivors face homicidal artificial intelligence and fabricated metal assassins who police their new dystopian reality. An unplanned pregnancy by a sociopath further complicates her situation and Lauren will do whatever it takes to protect her unborn child. She holds on to the dream that her baby will not be formed with the emptiness of the father. Explore a possible future of human and synthetic beings as Vasquez enters, survives, and fights to find an exit from the ruined land. You will question the origin of life and embrace the dreams of androids. This is a powerful story about the mystery of love, the finality of death, and the struggle to find hope in a devastated world. Exit Ruinland contains the first four books in the Ruinland series.
Anne has always thought of herself as middling. Middling looks, middling position in the form, middling magical Gift and just a middling curve to the tip of her ears.
Her best friend, Lady Emmeline Eversleigh, commonly known as Kitty, is not middling anything. And when Kitty drags Anne into playing a Saint Valentine’s Day prank of truly wicked–and magical–proportions on one of the prefects, Anne finds herself in more than a middling muddle of trouble.
A stand alone novelette of 10,000 words in the Sorcery and Scholars series.
Two years ago a new medical nanite advance divided humanity into three types: humans, deaders and the frightening in-betweeners that crave human flesh. Emily’s world has grown quiet and ordered, her day bounded by mornings killing deaders at her fence and nights huddled alone in a warehouse office. She’s begun to believe life will always be this way, alone with the dead or fighting in-betweeners for her life. But even that life is better than the alternative.
Everything changes when one of the deaders at the gate isn’t a deader at all. He’s an in-betweener different from any Emily has seen before…and he has a message.
The In-Betweener is book one of the Between Life and Death series. Book two, Forever Between, will release in March 2015. Book three, Between Life and Death, is scheduled for release in May 2015.
The Between Life and Death series is suitable for ages 16 and up, with occasional violence and mild language.
Rue Darrow is a newly made vampire, and she’s alone in New Orleans, no boyfriend, no son, and no friends. All she sees is an eternity spent working at menial jobs just to pay the bills, hunting where it’s safe, and holding onto the her flagging human emotions.
Then Rue saves the life of a man in a dark alley. What she didn’t realize was the man was Fae, and the attackers were demons. The grateful Fae wants to hire Rue to get back a treasure that was stolen from him, but he won’t tell her what it is. Rue, who has never been in a fight in her life–before the alley scuffle–is thrust into a new, darker world where there are not only Fae but werewolves, demons, unidentified creatures, and even her old “buddy” Death.
Rue’s not sure if she should take on the job, but well, it beats shift work.
Lieutenant Callum Harper hadn’t intended on punching his commanding officer quite so hard. But maybe it wasn’t such a bad turn of events. Court-martialed and dumped on a reject raft bound for Earth, Cal feels optimistic about a life where getting blown up, shot, or even eaten is altogether less of a concern. And, more importantly, a life where the only person he’s responsible for is himself.
Unfortunately, fate doesn’t favour the mundane. Crash-landing on a lethal planet, and with technology failing all around him, Cal must take his fellow passengers under his wing in order to survive and unravel the reasons behind their situation.
But the cause is far worse than any of them could have imagined, for theirs is a small part of a much larger crisis. Colonized space is under attack. Humanity is on the verge of chaos. And those who enjoy such anarchy are already beginning to thrive.
Yet Cal and his new companions will discover that mankind isn’t the true threat” – not by a long shot.
“You were right about her. She is a hero.”
When a love-crazed gremlin kidnaps pixie waitress Mandy, Michiko Koyama, a.k.a. the Monkey Queen, and her partner in adventure Beth McGill journey to Faerie to rescue their friend. Circumstances force them to ally with the crew of a pirate airship, led by the mysterious Captain Ash. Dangers await them in the sky, on the ground and in their hearts.
And an old enemy waits for them, his trap set and ready to be sprung…and it could mean the end of the Monkey Queen.
This is book 3 of the Monkey Queen series.
Renardo and his brothers are up to their eyeballs in debt, with one last chance to save their merchant business (and their gonads) from the moneylender. The great city of Tebos is holding its Festival of Song in three days’ time, and they have a wagonload of songbirds to sell.
There’s just one large, man-eating problem: the bored sphinx who guards the city’s gates, and her deadly riddle game. Renardo doesn’t even want to be a merchant, but somehow it falls to him to outwit the sphinx. No pressure. All he has to do is come up with an unanswerable riddle.
A short story (4,000 words) for lovers of humorous fantasy.
When Shannon wakes up in the middle of a forest, confused and disoriented from her sudden and unexpected death, she follows a path that leads to a small, dilapidated town full of silent spirits who repeat the same tasks over and over again, completely unaware of their surroundings. And the worst part? She might be trapped there forever.
She’s alone and terrified until she runs into Ben, a charming but cautious man from Victorian England who’s been trapped in the town since his death in 1894. He tells her she’s the only person who’s spoken to him since he arrived. With his experience and her creativity, will they be able to find a way out of the town and into a better afterlife?
“The Gate” is the beginning of an emotional and haunting story that depicts a budding romance between two people who never met in life, and can only be united in death.
This is Part 1 of a series of novelettes, and is approximately 9,000 words.
Cowboys and gunslingers meet wizards in this high fantasy series inspired by the American Wild West. Silas Vendine is a mage and bounty hunter, on the hunt for renegade mages. He’s also a freedom fighter, sworn to protect the non-magical people of the Wildings from ambitious mages both lawless and lawful. In his line of work, Silas knows to expect the unexpected, but he never expected to end up with a partner like Lainie Banfrey, a young woman born in the Wildings who is both drawn to and terrified of her own developing magical powers.
Silas and Lainie have defeated the dangerous rogue mage who brought Lainie’s hometown to the brink of open warfare. But the town of Bitterbush Springs isn’t big enough for two wizards, or even one, so they’ve hit the trail. Then Silas gets word that another mage hunter down in the dry and desolate Bads is onto something big and needs backup. He and Lainie head into the badlands only to find one mage hunter dead and another one missing… And Silas could be next.
This is book 2 of Daughter of the Wildings, following Beneath the Canyons.
The first book in a fantasy novella series takes place in the Nether Realm featuring a cadre of rogue black elven intelligence operatives believing black elves should return to the surface to rule the Earth Realm like they did nearly two thousand years ago.
Author’s Note: The word count is 30,043.
Rynlee Nalis is a demon hunter. She is a Purator, belonging to an organization who slay demons to serve their King. Even though she’s a candidate to succeed the High Purator, eighteen-year-old Rynlee doesn’t want the responsibility.
Her entire world is turned upside down when Jeynen shows up at the temple that is her school and home. She thought he died five years ago.
And he has no idea who she is.
When an assassin comes for Jeynen and he manages to flee for his life, Rynlee rushes after him. As she tries to discover the truth about him, she stumbles onto an ancient prophecy and challenges those who want to destroy the balance of magic.
At the request of an agent of the Crown, Tyrnill helps investigate a series of unexplained deaths.
This is a novella length sequel to SongHealer.
Carus is only fifteen but since their mum disappeared, looking after her little sister Mitch is her job. There’s nobody else. Not in their house and not outside, either. There’s something out there, scratching and scraping at the windows.
The barricades will hold.
They have to.
In a world very much like our own Victorian England, the country of Dalanine is at war. The implacable, unstoppable Despot has been pushing northward for over a year, conquering everything in his path with military and magical force, leaving nothing but destruction in his wake. For Evon Lorantis, Dalanine’s most promising young magician, the war represents the same kind of work he’s always done, inventing and developing new spells for his country’s defense. But as good as he is, he’s still stumped by the mystery the government’s department of Home Defense brings him: a rash of spontaneously occurring fires, hotter than any natural force can produce, melting stone and vaporizing flesh wherever they strike. Home Defense believes it’s a weapon that will finally defeat the Despot. And they want Evon to harness it.
In investigating the problem, Evon discovers these fires are no accident; there’s a magician behind them, a woman using the fire to prosecute justice on her own terms. Evon sets off on a journey across Dalanine to track down this rogue magician, hoping to persuade her to turn aside from her vigilante crusade to serve her country, afraid of finding only a madwoman at the end of his quest. But the woman he does find is nothing like he expected, the mystery far greater—and older—than he’d imagined, and the secret of the fire more potent than anyone could have guessed. As Evon attempts to untangle fact from myth, what began as an assignment becomes a challenge that will require every ounce of magical ability he has—and will irrevocably change the course of his life.
It began as a fever of unknown origin that its victims dubbed “the Heat,” but as it burned through most of the world’s population, it became known simply as “the Dying.” And for those left behind, the struggle has just begun….
In the aftermath of the Dying, survivor Jessica Monroe is protected and guided by the gentle voice of an invisible being she thinks of as her guardian angel. When she reaches the sanctuary he’s provided for her, however, she realizes that her unseen companion is no angel at all. The destruction of humanity was only the first step in a much larger plan, and now Jessica must struggle to discover her own role in a frightening new world where everything has changed.
Bruton is a community struggling to survive – and to retain some of the values of the old world. Led by tough former lawyer Helen Locke, it’s a small town where people struggle to remain civilized, to keep their technology and to survive. Until Tom Milkins shows up – and Locke knows he’s trouble right away. When a young scout is brutally murdered, it’s clear that Bruton – and Locke – might have more than they bargained for. Can they keep the light of civilization in a world full of wild children and dangerous, patriarchal men?
This is part 2 of the Silent Years series and the sequel to Mother.
A DRAGON IS BORN
“Come, Little Dragon. The sun rises, and so must you.”
The Scion King sits Riverdale’s throne.
Rebels mass near the Western Sea.
Having lost everything,
Asher flees to the edge of the broken realm,
where he must find redemption
or die alone.
Book 5 in the Southwind Knights series.
Ships are disappearing in subspace. Traders, rebels, pirates, and even military vessels are losing their way in the Big Nothing that makes space travel possible. Deep-cover agent Sethran Kada joins the investigation after his own navigator, Ciela, barely escapes the void with her mind intact. It soon becomes clear that this subspace trap is more than some natural phenomenon,
Seth’s search for answers leads him to a brutal penal colony on the brink of revolt, and uncovers a plot to destroy an entire planet. When evidence points to the return of the dangerous subspace entities known as Dyads, Air Command mobilizes to annihilate the threat at any cost.
Seth and Ciela pursue a Dyad who has infiltrated a key research complex where they discover that the inexorable subspace peril will not just threaten a single planet. It will mean the end of interstellar travel and destroy their Commonwealth civilization.
This is book 3 in the Targon Tales – Sethran series.
“What we have here is a very high-quality junkie novel that happens to be about a unique case of vampirism.” —Evan Clark, author of Movers
WHEN WORN-OUT MUSICIAN DAN FERRY decides to take a shortcut back to the band’s hotel, he picks the wrong dark alley to go down. Within days of being attacked by a bat-like creature, he becomes consumed with the need to drink human blood. Terrified of what will happen if he doesn’t get his fix–and terrified of what he’ll do to get it–he turns to his best friend and bandmate, Ray Ford, for help. But what the two don’t know as they try to keep Dan’s situation quiet is that the parasite driving Dan’s addiction has the potential to wipe out humankind.
Poignant and terrifying, heartfelt and ingenious, Suckers is a story of sacrifice and friendship in the face of an alien contagion that threatens to destroy humanity.
The government has collapsed, RomaCorp is rising in its place, and Weber Rexall threw the first punch in a fight with Roma that he and his friends weren’t ready to finish. With Roma looking for him, he’s fled New Eden for the Outer West, hoping to give his friends time to prepare for an inevitable second round. He just never expected that to take two years.
Scratching out a new life far from home, Rexall thought he had longer to stay out of Roma’s reach. But with a hefty reward on his head, desperate thugs are eager to turn him in, and a relentless Roma security agent he knows all too well has come to bring him back.
Rexall could run again, but RomaCorp won’t stop unless he can finish the fight he started. Yet to do that, he needs more help and resources than the Outer West can offer–and if he fails a second time, there won’t be a third.
This is book 2 of the New Eden Series/Rexall Cycle, following Chasing Filthy Lucre.
Being mates makes everything perfect—doesn’t it?
Sean is happy with his mate, Tom. As far as he’s concerned, life is golden. Except for when it isn’t. Their work is dangerous. While Sean’s recovering from his most recent injury, he hears a little girl in his head, calling for help. And his wolf side is acting up: too sensitive, too vulnerable. He needs Tom more than ever, especially when it means facing his family and old wounds. Even if things are never truly right for his wolf side, at least he has a mate who will never leave him…right?
Takes place after My Partner the Wolf
89,000 words. Some angst. Some wolf stuff. Lots of love. Happy ending. (I promise!)
Sexiness level: Medium-ish
Just as Midshipman Alexis Carew thinks she’s found a place in the Royal Navy, she’s transferred aboard H.M.S. Hermione. Her captain is a Tartar, free with the cat o’ nine tails and who thinks girls have no place aboard ship. The other midshipmen in the berth are no better. The only advice she’s offered is to keep her head down and mouth shut – things Alexis is rarely able to do.
This is the sequel to Into the Dark.
When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, it’s up to six university students and their experimental physics project to prevent the end of civilization.
When an experiment to study quantum uncertainty goes spectacularly wrong, physics student Richard and his friends find that they have accidentally created an inter-dimensional portal. They connect to an alternate Earth with identical geology, but where humans never evolved. They go panning for gold and become millionaires overnight, while fantasizing about Nobel Prizes and patents.
Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts on Earth in an explosion large enough to destroy civilization and kill half the planet. Richard and his friends have less than an afternoon to get as many people as possible across to Outland before Nebraska is covered in a lethal cloud of ash.
Now Richard finds himself in charge of a disorganized and frightened band of reluctant pioneers, on a world with none of the modern infrastructure that people have come to depend on. Richard has been a loner all his life, and has always wanted to be part of something bigger– but this is far more than he bargained for. If he doesn’t get this right, it’s not just the lives of the people in his care that could be lost– it may very well be the end of human civilization.
A MYSTICAL FOREST
AN ANCIENT PROPHECY
A LOVE THAT SPANS LIFETIMES
First in the two-volume Epiphany series, The Golding is a captivating story-within-a-story that alternates between the work of an 18th-century author and the present-day lives of those who study his book.
Rosetta Melki, part-time tarot reader, struggling sole parent and full-time idealist, begins a reading group to examine a fantasy novel, and discovers the book to be anything but fiction.
The book, written in the 1770s by Edward Lillibridge, is a hidden history that reveals the true beginnings of the global monetary system. Lillibridge’s tale surrounds ancients from a gold-obsessed empire and the sprites they oppress: intuitive clan dwellers whose currency of choice is kindness.
Whether discontent in rich and poor alike will ever make way for the Currency of Kindness, whether anyone can believe enough in humanity’s true ancient history to activate the dawn of a benevolent new era, remains to be seen, but the time-crossing sprites of Lillibridge’s descriptions have set their sights on Rosetta. Their attempts at providing a companion to assist in the quest they have planned for her leads to a clumsy introduction to Matthew Weissler, a feet-on-the-ground finance executive who is disturbed to find he’s being followed by an elf.
It would seem Matthew and Rosetta have nothing in common, and yet the sprites believe if the two work together, a renaissance known as The Silvering will occur. But someone from the empire of the past is intent on preserving Earth’s pattern of pain, and is determined to prevent the sprites from succeeding.
Sixteen-year-old Holly Bennett is a comic book nerd, a con artist, and a shaman. Ever since her mom’s mind got stuck halfway between the spirit world and ours, Holly’s been forced to act as the breadwinner of the family. She uses her burgeoning shaman powers to set up fake hauntings and “banish” the so-called ghosts from her wealthy classmates’ bedrooms. For a fee, of course.
But when actual spirits start manifesting, Holly discovers that other shamans have come to town, summoning life-sucking spirits for their own ends. And as her mom’s mind slips further away, Holly has to fight to save her, and the rest of the town, before they get sucked into Lower World permanently.
Fifteen-year-old Clio should have never been the Oracle of Sheehan. That power is passed from mother to eldest daughter, and Clio is the youngest of four sisters. But when her entire family is murdered by Mannix, the king’s adviser, Clio is left all alone and heir to a power she never wanted and doesn’t understand.
Hunted by Mannix, Clio seeks refuge in a foreign city where oracles are absolutely forbidden. If she’s found out, she will be sacrificed atop its great pyramid.
Clio has no choice but to win the trust of Riece, an enemy warrior. Despite the growing feelings between them, Clio knows that if he finds out who she really is, he won’t hesitate to kill her.
Clio tries to hide her budding powers, longing to be a normal girl who can fall in love, but the visions she has of Mannix bringing a barbarian army into Sheehan torture her conscience. She alone has the strength and foresight to stop him, but only if she can embrace her destiny and sacrifice everything.
It’s the Summer Solstice and it’s a full moon too. Natural Witch Emily Rand has been doing her best to keep her distance from gorgeous Werewolf Aaron Fletcher, but fate has other plans. Fletch’s new pack Alpha has heard of Emily’s powers and is coming for her. He wants to bond his wolf to her witch and make himself the most powerful Werewolf in Britain. Can Emily and Fletch combine forces to outsmart the Alpha before the Solstice magic takes away their choice? Emily has never had great control over her powers and being forced into a battle to stop the Alpha can only result in complete mayhem.
A humorous paranormal romance. Book Three in the Magic & Mayhem series.
Sviska is an assassin questioning the sanctity of his lifetime of bloodshed in service to an ancient sect. Perceiving their acts have become random and senseless, he refuses to murder a young child. He wishes to leave his life with the Order, but they have another assignment for him and if he refuses this too, he will be killed.
Sent to an isolated mountain city called Elinathrond, Sviska finds a place where a plague is rampant; a wine used to prevent the ailment has run out. Sviska’s task is to ferment a medicinal wine for the people and it is here he discovers that magic, an extinct force in his lands, is very much alive. But why the Order would send him here to procure this life saving elixir for those they wish dead, confuses him.
In this last refuge for magical peoples, a weakening spell exposes more of them to the sickness with every moment. Rumors are spreading that the city is no longer safe, and a malicious evil is growing beneath the streets. If he fails to procure the wine, Elinathrond faces desolation, but the death of the last winemaker was no accident, and Sviska may be next.