Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for May 2021

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 April 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, historical fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, science fiction mystery, dystopian fiction, biopunk, agripunk, LitRPG, horror, Greek mythology, aliens, magicians, ghosts, superheroes, mechas, space marines, sea monsters, dragon-slayers, pirates, fallen angels, fallen goddesses, crime-busting witches, crime-busting psychics, opera singing vampires 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:

Wunderkind by Z.Z. AdamsWunderkind by Z.Z. Adams:

How do you defeat an enemy you cannot touch? When you’re fighting shadows, it pays to remember what might be lurking behind the curtain.

When the usually sleepy university city of Oxford, England is beset by a series of horrific murders, Elliot Goshawk, a fresh arrival to Oxford and one of the youngest to ever pass admission, must overcome his fear and defeat the murderer. At just fourteen, Elliot may not appear to have the skills for the job, but he has had an unusual childhood. Trained from birth as an assassin, there’s no one better qualified to stop this menace.

With a wayward time traveller, a professor of the arcane, and a city full of intelligence operatives on his tail, can Elliot find a way to take on and defeat the deadly alien shadow? Are MI6 agents really harder than those from the Coldhorn Initiative? Do they do any actual studying in Oxford?

Because Elliot also has another, deeper secret and something he fears above everything else: it might have been his fault that the shadow creature emerged in the first place.

This science-fiction thriller is a dark and humorous tale of wayward superheroes, the evil megacorporation stalking them, and the teamwork it will take to save the world.

Song of Redemption by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. ChaneySong of Redemption by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. Chaney:

In the midst of humanity’s greatest fight for survival, old rivalries threaten to pull allies apart in a rush for rumored alien tech.

With the newly weaponized Sergeant Reverent Pelletier and his Marine Raiders at the tip of the spear, only they stand a chance at holding the shaky alliance together long enough to meet the enemy.

The Centaurs are on their way to destroy the very birthplace of human civilization: Mother Earth itself.

Humanity’s end may be upon us… but only if Rev and his team fail to do the impossible.

The Invisible Body by Jenny CuttsThe Invisible Body by Jenny Cutts:

A strange ability. A discovered corpse. But will his supernatural sleuthing skills lead him into a killer’s trap?

England, 1990. Reed has travelled his whole life in search of someone who understands him. So he’s thrilled when his journey brings him to free-spirited Zoya, who shares his rare ability to dream-walk. But after his gift leads him to a hidden corpse, he becomes the prime suspect in the murder.

Despite the setback, Reed resolves to use his power to help crack the case.

When the real perpetrator delivers a violent threat, he’s tempted to give up, slip into his camper van and hit the road again. After all, who would miss him?

Will Reed flee the tiny seaside town and abandon his new friends – or will he risk everything to expose the murderer?

The Invisible Body is the first book of The Falling Awake Mysteries, a captivating, character-led series that blends amateur sleuth crime story with an exploration of human connection. If you like compelling characters, seaside settings and a hint of the paranormal, then you’ll love Jenny Cutts’ intriguing novel.

George by Kate DanleyGeorge by Kate Danley:

George is just your normal peasant, with parents who abandoned him to join up with pirates and a terrible family secret he carries around his neck.

But when a wandering knight scoops him up to carry all his heavy stuff, George feels like his dreams are coming true! Except the knight dies. And now George is in trouble. Will donning the knight’s armor and taking his place solve his problems? What about when a dragon shows up and George is expected to fight it? Things are about to get complicated…

Chase away the darkness with George and his friends in this hilarious rollicking riff on George and the Dragon by USA TODAY bestselling author, Kate Danley.

These dragons aren’t going to slay themselves!

Of Men and Monsters by Tom DeadyOf Men and Monsters by Tom Deady:

In June of 1975, Ryan Baxter’s mom moves him and his brother, Matt, to the small seaside town of Bayport, MA to escape their abusive father. For an eleven-year-old, spending lazy days hanging out at the beach and the arcades sounds like a dream.

When he meets Leah and she agrees to be his girlfriend, Ryan is happier than he’s been in his young life. Then the “Sea Monkeys” knock-off he bought from the back of a comic book starts to grow…and grow and grow.

As Ryan and Matt struggle with their new lives and new friends, they begin to receive mysterious phone calls. As the sea monster in their house begins to get out of control, the real monster draws nearer to Bayport in the shape of their father.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Chasing Shadows by Morgan De GuerreChasing Shadows by Morgan De Guerre:

A hundred years ago, I hung up my cape.

I was tired of being Destiny’s puppet, serving my purpose through my country’s history, signing my name in blood and death. I had enough of intrigues, mysteries, and betrayals. I sought sanctuary in the Bakirville National Opera, where I found peace, hiding in plain sight.

Killing people onstage after having killed so many in real life keeps my memories alive. I don’t recant my past. I’d like to think I learned from it.

A hundred years was enough for people to forget. They love me now with a different kind of passion than they did centuries ago. I am content to exist here, to bring joy with the same diligence with which I used to bring justice. But I can sense my time of peace is about to end. When two of our singers disappear in the space of a month, I know something is wrong. Someone is hunting my people. Someone is in my house.

Sooner or later, I’ll have to do something about it.

Welcome to Talinia
On this side of the Unbroken Barrier, humans live alongside vampires, werecreatures, wizards and witches, prophets and hellhounds. In our world, souls, youth and power are commodities to be bought and sold.

Magician Rising by Renée des LauriersMagician Rising by Renée des Lauriers:

Dark powers she can’t control. Deadly hunters tracking her down. Can she rip the target off her back before it turns fatal?

Jun Bear has lived with bad luck all her life. And when a professor threatens to give her a failing grade, the college senior sees her hopes for graduating in two months going down another ill-fated drain. But her fortunes plunge further when an unnatural earthquake shakes the campus and unleashes cold-blooded assassins after her head…

Unsure what’s happening, Jun finds herself facing a trained killer intent on exposing the wielder of the dangerous magic. And when she’s provoked into revealing her unexpected new abilities, she’s determined to prove her innocence before she’s permanently eliminated.

Can she win over an ally and survive a bloodthirsty secret society fixated on wiping her out?

Magician Rising is the fast-paced first book in the Divination in Darkness urban fantasy series. If you like plucky heroines, gory humor, and breathtaking action, then you’ll love Renee des Lauriers’ gritty thrill-ride.

Iaxiabor's Revenge by Rachel FordIaxiabor’s Revenge by Rachel Ford:

A fully immersive virtual reality system. A beta testing opportunity that’s the stuff of dreams – or a nightmare that may never end.

Jack Owens is stuck in Marshfield Studio’s newest virtual reality RPG. But the end is finally in sight.
Once he’s done with the filler quests and the boss fight from heck, the game will be over. And he can get back to his real life.

Or can he?

Conjure Web by Yasmine GalenornConjure Web by Yasmine Galenorn:

As January delves into her family history, she discovers dark secrets about her great-grandmother Colleen and those secrets threaten everything she ever thought she knew about her heritage. Now, with her confidence already on shaky ground, January takes on a case with her friend Ari. Hired by a friend to discover whether their child is really their child, January and Ari delve into the Mystic Woods, looking for the answer. Their investigation leads them down the rabbit hole of magical intrigue, unrequited love, and into the world of the Woodlings, where January finds her worldview at risk, as well as her life.

Ghostly Travels by Lily Harper HartGhostly Travels by Lily Harper Hart:

Harper Harlow-Monroe thought getting to her wedding would be the hard part. She was wrong. Getting through her honeymoon is going to be a whole lot worse.

Jared Monroe decided to surprise his new wife with a honeymoon in Salem, Massachusetts. The goal was to have fun, bask in the sun, and eat some good seafood while shutting out the rest of the world. The fact that there’s a ghost hunting conference happening at the same time is just added icing on the cupcake of life.

Then the unthinkable happens and Harper’s best friend Zander Pritchett magically shows up for the conference … and decides to hijack their honeymoon.

Jared might be able to put up with Zander, but when a missing girl and several ghosts rile up the atmosphere, things threaten to spiral out of control.

Harper is who she is. When she finds out several teenagers have gone missing over the course of a month, she can’t stop herself from digging hard. What she finds is a strange nexus of ghosts who don’t act like she expects … and a story that might haunt her for the rest of her life.

Harper is determined to make this a honeymoon to remember despite Zander and the ghosts working against her. She’s going to have to survive for that to happen … and nothing is a given.

Salem is a city with a long history. Hopefully, it won’t be the end for Harper and Jared.

Cora: Rise of the Fallen Goddess by A.L. HawkeCora: Rise of the Fallen Goddess by A.L. Hawke:

Abandoned. Imprisoned. Loved.

Cora is the goddess Persephone, living in Greece in the fourteenth century B.C. In order to shelter her from prophecy, her mother, Demeter, sends her away to Azure Blue. The young girl is raised and protected by the nymph queen, Nephrea, in a dreamlike crystal palace among azure trees and amethyst fields under a green sun. She’s adopted into the Amazon code of honor, bravery, and righteousness. But Cora is not an Amazon nymph. And prophecy holds quite a different fate for her as she grows into adulthood—Hades, Lord of the Underworld.

Upon Persephone’s fall, Demeter rages and threatens to freeze the entire world under ice and snow forever. Nephrea offers a sacrifice to quell her rage, but down in the fiery world below, it might be more than just the goddess who will need saving.

Raven's Haven for Women of Magic by Anna KirtlanRaven’s Haven for Women of Magic by Anna Kirtlan:

Cassandra Frost has zero interest in fortune telling or brewing foul smelling things in cauldrons, and much prefers the company of non-magical folk. She does her best to keep her powers under wraps to protect the secrecy of the Wellington witching community.

Unfortunately that’s easier said than done when your grandmother lives in Raven’s Haven for Women of Magic. Magical fireworks, mobility broom races and irresponsible use of cat litter spells are all part of the game for the witching retirement village residents. But when Cassandra’s forced to cast a spell in the open to save Adrian, a geeky graphic designer with secrets of his own, her two worlds spectacularly collide, and she learns the haven is much more than meets the eye.

Will Cassandra listen to her heart and learn to embrace her powers? Will the non-magical world be put at risk? Find out in this Contemporary Witchy Fiction novella featuring powerful witches, troublesome crones and an unseemly amount of cats.

Prelude to a Witch by Amanda M. LeePrelude to a Witch by Amanda M. Lee:

Bay Winchester has battled ghosts, shades, poltergeists … and sometimes her own family. It’s the latter giving her fits now. Well, and Hemlock Cove’s younger set of course.

Bay thought the worst was behind her when she modified the memories of four tempestuous teenagers bent on stealing magic and wielding it in a tyrannical manner. Unfortunately for her, when one of those teenagers ends up dead behind the inn her father owns, things start to spiral.

The girl’s death is ritual in fashion, bloody runes painted on the trees, and Bay can’t wrap her head around exactly what has happened. Then things get worse when dark figures start appearing in windows, black ghosts threatening Bay and her family at every turn.

Between the horror haunting Hemlock Cove and the annoying presence of Bay’s former boss and his current fiancée, who just so happens to be a distant relative, Bay has her hands full … and that’s before her cousin Clove’s baby starts displaying a rather interesting skillset that is going to force accommodations within the family.

All Bay wants is a little break to plan her wedding and look forward to happily ever after with her fiancé Landon Michaels. What’s she’s going to get is a whole lot of trouble.

Bay’s growing powers are drawing in a new element of evil. It’s going to take everything she has – and a little help from Aunt Tillie – to fight the ultimate battle. Survival isn’t a given but Bay is determined to make it to her big day.

No matter what.

Goodbye to the Sun by Jonathan NevairGoodbye to the Sun by Jonathan Nevair:

A nonstop thrill ride across an unstable galaxy, combining moral struggle with character-driven adventure…

Tucked away in the blue sands of Kol 2, the Motes are on the brink of cultural collapse. Razor, a bold and daring pilot, leads a last-ditch gambit against their local oppressors, the Targitians. The plan – abduct visiting Ambassador Keen Draden and use him as a bargaining chip to restore her people’s independence in the Sagittarius Arm. But when the operation unravels, Razor is forced to renegotiate terms with the arrogant diplomat.

Light years away on Heroon a radical resistance blossoms. The alluring rainforest planet haunts Keen. All his problems started there during the Patent War, but it’s where Razor’s troubles may find a solution. The moral tide ebbs, exposing an impossible choice that links their futures together more tragically than they ever thought possible.

Goodbye to the Sun: a space opera inspired by the Greek tragedy, Antigone.

Broken Angel: The Lost Years of Gabriel Martiniere by Joyce Reynolds-WardBroken Angel: The Lost Years of Gabriel Martiniere by Joyce Reynolds-Ward:

Exiled heir. Rebel. Husband. Father.

In 2029, Gabriel Martiniere testified against the Martiniere Group’s forced imposition of mind control programming on unwilling indentured workers.

For his pains, he was forced into exile for over thirty years. Forced to divorce the love of his life.

But he’s still coming. Still bent on vengeance against the man who forced him into exile, Philip Martiniere.

Gabe will win…or die trying.

Under Black Skies by Clare SagerUnder Black Skies by Clare Sager:

Enemies-to-lovers-to-enemies. Now they’re ‘just friends.’ Sure.

Reunited with her crew, Vice is on the hunt for Drake’s treasure. But there’s a good reason it hasn’t been seen in two hundred years – it’s hidden by fiendish clues and deadly traps. To keep her crew – her family safe, she can’t afford a single misstep. That’s easier said than done with a distraction like Knigh Blackwood around.

Knigh might not sail for the Navy anymore, but he’s found a new place in the world – home with Vice on the Venatrix. Even as he longs for more than ‘just friends’, he battles with demons from his past and one from his present. To save his family, he needs money. Lots of it. A legendary treasure would be the perfect solution.

But traps and troublesome feelings aren’t the only dangers they face. When treachery strikes at the heart of pirate-kind, no one is safe: not their home, not Knigh’s family, not even the Pirate Queen herself.

Witch's Guide to Romantic Comedy by Lotta SmithWitch’s Guide to Romantic Comedy by Lotta Smith:

Sometimes, the most powerful miracle hits you in the middle of a total magical eclipse…

I’m Sophie Rowling. I used to be a world-renowned violinist, until my world was turned upside down. Following a freak accident in Paris, I can’t remember how to play the violin anymore. To make matters worse, I’m supposed to perform for my childhood teacher’s retirement party, which is just weeks away. Usually I would turn to my BFFs, Jackie the ghost and Allegra the violin fairy, for moral support, but I’ve also lost my ability to talk to them.

Then fate steps in, and Dante enters my life. He’s hot, dangerous, and addictive. I can’t spend a moment without thinking of him, and I keep on bumping into him. Honestly, this is so wrong. I should forget about him and focus on my music—in order to keep what’s left of my sanity.

But wait, do I really need sanity? As they say, “Insane is the new cool,” and maybe I need to try being cool.

* * *

Dante had a simple job: fly to Japan, run an errand, and go back to the US for good. He wasn’t expecting Sophie, an innocent girl with an attitude, to literally fall into his arms. Now they are being followed, attacked, and can’t get enough of each other.

As their lives intertwine, the danger and passion grow between them. Will the fates allow them to have a happily ever after? Or will fate continue to put them in harm’s way?

Caged Alien Mate by Ivy SparksCaged Alien Mate by Ivy Sparks:

I’ve been tossed inside a cage with an exiled, tortured alien prince. And our captors expect us to produce an heir.

So here I thought my situation was bad. I’m a navigator in training who crash landed on the galaxy’s most brutal planet, only to be enslaved by reptilians. But after I meet Xavi, I realize I’ve had it easy.

He’s been beaten by our captors for God knows how long, and his massive body has the scars to prove it. He is hardened, vengeful. But when we first lock eyes…

Talk about sparks flying.

He might be an outcast – a figure of contempt and controversy in his world. But in my world? He makes this dungeon bearable.

Galactic Search and Rescue by Carol Van NattaGalactic Search and Rescue by Carol Van Natta:

When an earthquake shakes up a nearby world, can two star-crossed rescuers save an entire community… and each other?

Experienced rescuer Subcaptain Taz Correa hides her wounded heart. A telekinetic tech-whiz recently transferred to the worst Galactic Search and Rescue unit in the galaxy, she’d hoped after her string of epically bad breakups she’d have a fresh start. But when she can’t fight her feelings for her new teammate, she’s terrified her secret affection will show and cost both their careers.

Subcaptain Rylando Dalroinn’s telepathic connection to animals used to be everything. But he has no idea how to admit his growing attraction to Taz, especially as it’s completely against the rules. And when they’re sent as a team of two to help a devastated town, he knows he can’t afford to let his heart’s desire distract him from their dangerous mission.

As Taz works with Rylando and his unusual squad of trained animal helpers to free a desperate group of citizens, she puts her life on the line to protect her partner’s beloved creatures. But when Rylando realizes the people he’s rescuing are more than just innocent victims, he’ll have to throw out the rulebook to save them both.

Can love—and a clever crew of animals—guide the couple out of the rubble and into a future together?

Galactic Search and Rescue is a pulse-pounding story in the Central Galactic Concordance space opera series. If you like lovers in denial, edge-of-your-seat twists and turns, and intriguing psychic powers, then you’ll adore Carol Van Natta’s thrilling tale.

Metal Warrior: Ring of Steel by James David VictorMetal Warrior: Ring of Steel by James David Victor:

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. At last that’s what they want you to believe.

Dane has escaped the clutches of the Exin Queen and her War Master and brought back valuable intel. When they find the wreckage of an Exin warship, they come across a potentially valuable survivor. And a way to possibly win the war. Before they can launch an offensive, the battlefield changes yet again. Will Dane and his fellow mech fighters find themselves surrounded by a ring of steel intent on crushing the life out of all humanity? Or will humanity finally be on the way to winning the war?

Metal Warrior: Ring of Steel is the seventh book in the Mech Fighter series. If you like fast-paced space adventures with engaging characters and exciting battles, you will definitely want to see how the Metal Warriors save mankind, or if they can.

Libra by John WegenerLibra by John Wegener:

I appeal to the President of the Confederation…

When a duke and duchess are murdered on Franconia and a Cetusian is convicted, he appeals to the Confederation as a last resort. Can the true murderer be brought to justice? And what is the motive?

Chooli has just graduated as a police officer and joined the GIA. She is asked to team up with her partner Alex to investigate the crime on the luxurious planet – one that has dark secrets.

Ignoring warnings to stop their investigation, Chooli is kidnapped by the assassin, making the pursuit personal for Alex, as he battles against time to save her.

When Chooli escapes her captors, she finds herself in the middle of a war where she is captured again and stumbles on a monumental conspiracy that she must stop before it is too late.

Can Alex find Chooli in time to save her? Can Chooli prevent a catastrophe? Can they both bring the mastermind behind it all to justice?

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