Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for August 2018

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 authors newly published this month, though some July 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. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, YA fantasy, cozy fantasy, portal fantasy, paranormal mystery, science fiction thrillers, space opera, military science fiction, science fantasy, dystopian fiction, prehistoric fiction, horror, Steampunk, Mannerpunk, time travel, witches, dragons, robots, haunted houses, ghost marines, dinosaurs in love, planetkiller weapons, pirates, airships, kidnapped maidens, UFO conspiracies, space mages, prison breaks, magical portals, haunted music venues 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:

The Codex of Desire by Lauren AlderThe Codex of Desire by Lauren Alder:

Love and violence, war and lust, lies and betrayal — even intelligent feathered dinosaurs fell prey to such savage impulses, more than 67 million years ago.

When Raoul Deguchi, a human palaeontologist, touches the alien-forged metal band wrapped around the forearm of a small theropod dinosaur fossil, he is mentally transported back in time to experience the tragic intersection of five dinosaur lives. Girn’ash, a shrewd and secretive female slave, falls in love with Tir’at~Esk, a dashing military prisoner — and will do anything in her meagre power to win his freedom. But Girn’ash’s queen is determined to coerce the handsome warrior into her harem, and when so many ferocious desires collide it might doom an entire civilization to nuclear extinction.

Fleet Commander Recon by Shane Lochlann BlackFleet Commander Recon by Shane Lochlann Black:

For starship captains, there are some things more important than capital weapons and mechanized infantry.

Jayce Hunter’s flagship is grounded. The majority of the battleship Argent’s space wing is either missing or destroyed, and the Judge Advocate is preparing a defense against the possibility of a general court martial aimed at Jayce and the rest of Admiral Powers’ so-called “alarmist” political allies.

Meanwhile, with her mentor veteran cruiser captain Patrick Enright in a coma from which he may never awaken, Jayce vows to hunt down the ambush fleet responsible for the destruction of the starship Revenge and the possible murder of her twin brother, Captain Jason Hunter.

After doing her best to comfort her shaken mother, and even as she fights her own worst fears Jason may truly be gone, the former Perseus Task Force Flag and skipper of the advanced strike cruiser DSS Fury pushes her authority to the limit and re-classifies her command Skywatch Special Forces Recon. Now all she needs is a team willing to share the risk of piracy charges to return to Bayone and finish what the traitorous Colonel Atwell started.

Argent’s amphibious forces are fighting to survive on the surface of an inter-dimensionally trapped planet overrun by treacherous enemies. A previously unknown alien faction armed with destructive riflecutter weapons has blockaded the sector. Now it is up to two stranded marines, a recon K-9, ten fugitive officers and an unexpected ally to fight their way through spacetime and venture deep into the unexplored labyrinth under the Lethe Deeps planetary defense base.

There they may finally discover the secrets of the mysterious Ithis technology and use it to learn the true fate of the one man who can beat Colonel Atwell at his own game.

Unification by Jonathan P. BrazeeUnification by Jonathan P. Brazee:

The Corps has been integrated by imperial decree—but that doesn’t mean everyone accepts the wyntonan Marines. Despite an impressive combat record as a grunt, Corporal Leif Hollow struggles to become an effective NCO and leader of Marines.

When then the trumpets of war sound, however, Marines forget about differences and come together to accomplish the mission. But when the odds are stacked against them, and the empire’s very existence is at stake, will that be enough?

The Lord of Always by David BrianThe Lord of Always by David Brian:

Can this really be the remains of an angel? And if it is, shouldn’t we all tremble in anticipation of what awaits at our end?

For Frank and Roz Tanner, booking a honeymoon at Penhale House, set amid beautiful Cornish landscapes, should have been the perfect getaway. But the house sits on a nexus point; a gateway to demonic realms.

Amid a turbulence of twisting realities, and facing legions of fallen angels and nightmarish servitors, Frank and Roz become separated. Frank turns to a local pensioner for assistance. But the enigmatic George Smoke is a man who offers more questions than answers.

Confronted by dark gods and cosmic abominations, Frank faces a battle for his wife’s soul. It seems a fight he is destined to lose… but he must succeed. Saving Roz is the key to everything.

Evacuation Order by Cora BuhlertEvacuation Order by Cora Buhlert:

When the test of a planet killer weapon goes awry, the light cruiser Fearless Explorer is ordered to the planet Jagellowsk to evacuate the scientists in charge of the test before the planet breaks apart. But in defiance of orders, Captain Brian Mayhew and his crew decide to aid the civilian evacuation efforts instead.

Meanwhile, on Jagellowsk, thirteen-year-old Katya Grikova is desperate to get herself and her little brother Misha to safety from the ever stronger seismic shocks that are rocking the planet.

The Fearless Explorer is Katya and Misha’s only chance to get away from Jagellowsk. But Captain Brian Mayhew and his crew cannot evacuate all the children waiting for rescue…

This is a prequel novella of 29000 words or approximately 100 print pages in the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

Eye of Truth by Lindsay BurokerEye of Truth by Lindsay Buroker:

After ten years at war, Jev Dharrow looks forward to hanging up his sword, relaxing with a cool mug of ale, and forgetting that the love of his life married another man while he was gone. But when his ship sails into port, a beautiful woman wearing the garb of an inquisitor from one of the religious orders waits to arrest him.

His crime?

He’s accused of stealing an ancient artifact with the power to start another war. Jev would gladly hand over the artifact to stop more suffering, but he has no idea where it is or even what it looks like. The inquisitor woman definitely has the wrong person.

Inquisitor Zenia Cham grew up with nothing, but she has distinguished herself as one of the most capable law enforcers in the city, and she’s next in line to become archmage of the temple. All she has to do is find the Eye of Truth, and her superiors are certain that Jev has it.

He tries to charm her with his twinkling eyes and easy smile, but she’s not letting any man get between her and her dreams. Especially not a thief.

If Jev can’t convince Zenia they’re on the same side, find the artifact, and clear his name, his homecoming will turn into a jail sentence. Or worse.

Missing Signal by Seb DoubinskyMissing Signal by Seb Doubinsky:

From Seb Doubinsky, author of The Song of Synth, The Babylonian Trilogy, White City, Absinth, Omega Gray and Suan Ming, comes his highly anticipated next installment in the City-States Cycle.

Missing Signal—a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a government conspiracy? Agent Terrence Kovacs has worked for the New Petersburg Counter-Intel Department propagating fake UFO stories for so long that even he has a hard time separating fact from fiction. Especially when he’s approached by a beautiful woman named Vita, who claims she’s been sent from another planet to liberate Earth.

Prison Break by Rachel FordPrison Break by Rachel Ford, narrated by Jill Myers:

Mercy is weakness. Forgiveness is blasphemy. Sin is crime. The unholy trinity – monotheists, polytheists, and technotheists – rule in unison. Justice is not blind, but soulless.

In a city of stratified wealth and endemic poverty, Father Edlin tries to make a difference. His little church and free clinics provide a flicker of hope to the downtrodden populace. But not for long.

The men with guns show up, and it’s only a matter of time before a forced confession of heresy is extracted. Now Father Edlin sits in a cell, awaiting the fulfillment of his death sentence. But somewhere in the night, a friend lurks, waiting for the chance to pay off an old debt….

War Mage by Chris FoxWar Mage by Chris Fox:

The Krox have finally reached their end game, and the sector will never be the same. Their relentless fleet darkens the skies of New Texas, home of the fabled Ternus shipyards. Their only hope lies with their sworn allies, the Shayans. But the Shayans refuse to help.

Only Aran and his company can keep their leadership alive long enough for Voria to bring reinforcements and the fabled Spellship. If they fail, the entire world burns, and Ternus morale will collapse with it.

But the war is merely a smokescreen for something much more sinister. Teodros, Guardian of Krox, plans to use the distraction to resurrect his dark father. If he is not stopped, Krox will live again.

Behind it all Talifax schemes, and Nara will pay the price.

The Fila Epiphany by J.J. GreenThe Fila Epiphany by J.J. Green

Humanity’s first deep space colony.

Humanity’s last hope.

Treachery and sabotage have dogged the early days of the Nova Fortuna colonization project, and worse problems lie in wait.

The data the colonists received about their planet was wrong. No one knows what predatory life forms threaten the colonists. Ethan makes it his job to find out. At the same time, geneticist Cariad tries to root out any remaining saboteurs while also working to rebuild the colonists’ gene pool.

If Cariad and Ethan don’t succeed in securing the colony’s safety the last surviving flame of humanity will be snuffed out.

The Fila Deception is book two in the compelling, provocative space colonization series, Space Colony One.

A Portion of Dragon and Chips by Simon HaynesA Portion of Dragon and Chips by Simon Haynes:

“An insane, inspired blend of high fantasy and low humour”

When a battered old robot washes up on the shores of the Old Kingdom, it signals the end of a fragile alliance amongst the four ancient lands.
It turns out dragons are really tasty, and having filleted, boned and baked their scaly allies to the very brink of extinction, no single kingdom can hope to win out against the other three.
Into this shaky impasse steps the mechanical man, impervious to crude weapons, magic, suspicious wedding feasts, poisoned wine, and fire of any colour, be it wild, angry or just slightly annoyed.
Each kingdom stakes their claim to the mechanical marvel, convinced the mysterious creature will lead them to a crushing victory against the others once they teach it to fly. And breathe fire. And, you know, ignore the Three Laws.
It’s just a pity none of them thought to ask the robot what it wants.

Featuring Clunk – the beloved robot from the Hal Spacejock series – as well as the oddball protagonists from The Desolator and Thonn!, this novel promises to bring you the biggest laughs of the year.

Welcome to the Show, edited by Matt Hayward and Doug MuranoWelcome to the Show: 17 Horror Stories – One Legendary Venue, edited by Matt Hayward and Doug Murano:

17 horror Stories. One legendary music venue.

We all know the old cliché: Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Now, add demons, other dimensions, monsters, revenge, human sacrifice, and a dash of the truly inexplicable. This is the story of the (fictional) San Francisco music venue, The Shantyman.

In Welcome to the Show, seventeen of today’s hottest writers of horror and dark fiction come together in devilish harmony to trace The Shantyman’s history from its disturbing birth through its apocalyptic encore.

Featuring stories by Brian Keene, John Skipp, Mary SanGiovanni, Robert Ford, Max Booth III, Glenn Rolfe, Matt Hayward, Bryan Smith, Matt Serafini, Kelli Owen, Jonathan Janz, Patrick Lacey, Adam Cesare, Alan M Clark, Somer Canon, Rachel Autumn Deering and Jeff Strand.

Compiled by Matt Hayward. Edited by Doug Murano.

Bring your curiosity, but leave your inhibitions at the door. The show is about to begin…

Queen of the Shining Sea by Miranda HonfleurQueen of the Shining Sea by Miranda Honfleur:

Enemy mages and ships. An all-powerful organization gone rogue. One woman refuses to stand aside.

After the Divinity reveals its dark intentions, Rielle and her friends patrol the Shining Sea, doing all they can to stem the tide of gold flowing into Magehold and the dangerous goods flowing out. Facing Immortals and pirates at every turn, they wage battle after battle against clandestine Divinity ships in an effort to weaken its ability to grasp for power.

Meanwhile, Veris draws near and the Dragon King hunts Jon, whose life hangs in the balance as Olivia and Samara seek answers to heal his heart. As the werewolf presence in Emaurria escalates, Brennan is forced to confront both sides of his werewolf–noble identity and choose whether to reject it or embrace it. In a harsh and deadly wilderness, Leigh and Ambriel search for clues about the Sundering ritual, hoping to seal away the violent Immortals and save the land for good.

But the Divinity does not accept defeat — and when the Grand Divinus strikes back, it is not at Rielle but at Emaurria. Will she give up her war against the Divinity, or will Emaurria fall?

A Splash of Truth by Amy HopkinsA Splash of Truth by Amy Hopkins:

A boy is missing, and Emma needs to find him fast. The High Seat’s request to hunt down a traitor on the Council will just have to wait.

When Emma’s search leads her to the gritty underground where half-blood children are made to fight for sport, she’ll require every ounce of cunning and skill she has to bring the operation down. She must not only mingle with the arrogant nobles who run the operation but finally face down the one person who means her the most harm – her sister, Aveline.

Putting off the High Seat’s task, however, may be a bigger risk than she bargained for…

Witch Out of Water by Amanda M. LeeWitch Out of Water by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter is the new witch in a town overflowing with paranormal beings. She’s ready to settle, but odd things keeping cropping up and knocking her off her game.
In addition to dating Moonstone Bay’s sheriff Galen Blackwood, Hadley has her hands full when she helps discover a body at a local festival and uncovers a decades’ old feud between two warring families.

The stories are flying fast and furious and the suspects are racking up. At the top of the list is local enigma Booker, a mysterious soul who Hadley is determined to chase until he starts giving answers about his hidden past.

Galen and Booker are at odds – and it’s over more than just the dead body – and Hadley feels caught in the middle. When another witch shows an interest in her magical development, Hadley is eager for a breather. Unfortunately for her, the old witch in town might not be on the up and up.

Hadley has a lot to do. She needs to solve a murder, figure out what’s up with the other witch and get to know a few more locals. That’s on top of bonding with a grandfather she didn’t even know she had. She doesn’t have a job but she’s always working at something … as long as she survives to see another fantastic island sunrise, that is.

Step Into Magic by Day LeitaoStep Into Magic by Day Leitao:

Not special. Not chosen. But she’s got magical shoes.

14-year old Karina doesn’t know what she wants, but knows what she’s found—fascinating silver shoes. Fascinating, dangerous, and potentially evil. On the upside, they do bring cool visitors. When a princess invites her to go to Whyland, of course she accepts. There’s that little “let’s destroy the shoes” detail she’s not crazy about, but hey, free trip. Alternate world.

But Whyland is nothing like she expected. Karina finds herself stuck in a kingdom she doesn’t understand, with no clue on who to trust. Before saving anyone, she’d better save herself—if she figures out how.

For 16-year-old Cayla, destroying the shoes is her much-wanted chance to prove her worth to her father, the king, and gain freedom. It might also be her chance to see Darian after more than one year apart. Does he still like her? Did he ever? But these are not the only questions she finds an answer for. Soon she realizes that all her learning and fighting skills are no match for the truths she’s about to face.

Step into Magic is a fun YA portal fantasy adventure. If you like books with friendships between girls, subtle romance, and some mystery, get Step into Magic now.

Spells & Death by Rachel MedhurstSpells & Death by Rachel Medhurst:

Part witch, part ghost, total book nerd.

I’m a dead witch. Sort of. As a pure Essex witch, I’m permanently attached to Mother Earth’s ley lines. Pure magic equals life force. Which is the only thing that’s stopping my body from dying and my soul from moving on.

A Paranormal MI5 agent, my life work is to protect the ley lines. The magic contained within them is sacred, pure. When a serial killer starts leaving clues for me, I quickly realise that not only does he know my secret, he’s trying to steal the magic out from under me.

As each new body is found, I feel the lessening of magic that keeps me alive. I have no choice but to tell the one person I trust. Dave, the cute admin guy. Although he sits behind a desk, his geeky mind could solve anything. Together, we have to find the serial killer, before he drains the Earth of magic, and kills every living thing on it.

Virtue at Market Price by M.E. Meegs and E. Pluribus Van SkyeVirtue at Market Price by M.E. Meegs and E. Pluribus Van Skye:

In April 1924, airship pirates descend on the luxury liner S.S. Paris and make off with twenty-odd female captives. When the various authorities appear powerless to act, one man steps forward, pledging himself to recover said booty and thereby render American womanhood secure.

Unfortunately for all concerned, that man is E. Pluribus Van Slyke….

Motivated by his twin appetites for personal enrichment and female companionship, this trans-oceanic con man and cashiered naval officer deftly persuades a succession of equally ignoble characters of his suitability for the task. Then, given command of a decrepit airship, Van Slyke heads into the empyrean with a crew of halfwits, misfits, and felons.

But this voyage into the unknown is doubly so, for it soon becomes obvious the pirates who raided the Paris descended from fictional skies. In this parallel world our would-be hero finds himself at the mercy of rum-running cutthroats and throat-cutting buccaneers. Will he survive his confrontation with the fastidious Jack Tigue, a pirate renowned for his tasteful wardrobe and his habit of eviscerating opponents? Not to mention the anachronistic Jean Lafitte and his diabolical manicure of torture?

Barely. But most dangerous of all is yet to come: Captain Bonnet, the mad pirate of Barbados. For on departing his company, Van Slyke finds himself betrothed to not one, not two, not three, but five of the Mortal Sins!

The Apple-Tree Throne by Premee MohamedThe Apple-Tree Throne by Premee Mohamed:

It is the turn of the century in an England that never was. Bright new aqua-plants are generating electricity for the streetlights; news can be easily had on the radio-viz; and in Gundisalvus’ Land, the war is over and the soldiers are beginning to trickle home. Amongst these is Lt. Benjamin Braddock, survivor of the massacre that ended the war, and begrudgingly ready to return to a world that, well, doesn’t seem to need him any more than it did in peacetime. His friends have homes and families to return to, while he’s got nothing but his discharge papers and a couple of unwanted medals. Oh, and one new thing: the furious ghost of his commanding officer.

Fortunately, since the officer’s family is so vehemently adamant that Braddock join their rich and carefree fold, he doesn’t have much time to fret about being haunted. But the secrets of the war are about to catch up to them all.

Betrayed by Vanessa NelsonBetrayed by Vanessa Nelson:

A missing war mage. Death in the heartland.

Settling into her new life in the human world, the last thing Arrow expects is a request for aid from the Erith. The Erith’s favourite war mage is missing and Arrow is asked to investigate.

For the first time in her life, she is allowed into the Erith’s fabled heartland. It does not take long for Arrow to realise that the heartland is like the Erith themselves. Full of wonder, breathtakingly beautiful, and deadly.

Arrow is drawn into investigating a death at the very heart of the Erith’s homeland with the growing sense that there is far more wrong and far more at stake than a simple murder and missing mage.

Klone's Stronghold by Joyce Reynolds-WardKlone’s Stronghold by Joyce Reynolds-Ward:

In a world of supernatural beings, not knowing what you are is dangerous.

After Reeni Dutta’s ex-husband Karl attacks her at a music festival, she finds a refuge teaching cryptid construct children at Klone’s Stronghold in northeastern Oregon’s isolated Bucket Mountains. But things are not as they seem at the Stronghold, from the older proprietors of a nearby store and the Stronghold’s leader Alexander Reed Klone, to Reeni herself. She discovers it’s not just Karl who seeks to control who and what she is, but forces from her past that threaten her present. Can she learn the truth about herself and do what is needed in time to defend the Stronghold?

A Quiet Rebellion: Restitution by M.H. ThaungA Quiet Rebellion: Restitution by M.H. Thaung:

Jonathan burns for revenge after fleeing the city with only a stolen uniform and shoes—and a murder charge hanging over him. Unscrupulous scientist Silvers imprisoned him to experiment on, because Jonathan’s cursed with a secret, dangerous power. Jonathan will have to survive, reach Silvers and kill him to prevent him from doing further damage.

Rural herbalist Annetta is mortified after accidentally triggering Jonathan’s power the last time he visited her town. Convinced he’s a threat, she throws her efforts into developing a remedy to prevent him from killing again.

An escaped murderer is just another headache for Eleanor. It’s not easy being queen. She needs to negotiate the moral maze that curses raise and avoid being assassinated like her father.

With such disparate goals, will the right people come out on top?

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