Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for September 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 August 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 urban fantasy, epic fantasy, adventure fantasy, YA fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, fairy tales, space opera, military science fiction, planetary romance, post-apocalyptic fiction, cyberpunk, biopunk, LitRPG, cosmic horror, historical horror, psychological horror, vampires, dragons, demons, angels, fae, giants, space marines, aliens, fae princes, space mages, Martian invasions, Victorian zombies, crime-busting witches, crime-busting ghosts, amnesiac jailers, troubled insomniacs, Cthulhu 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:

Floaters by Gareth BoatmanFloaters by Gareth Boatman:

Fire and plague. Certainly no strangers to London Town. But when legions of living dead rise from the Thames’ fetid waters to feast upon the living, the city teeters on the brink of antihalation. And while floaters seek blood, another army takes advantage of the chaos. Boiling out of their rookeries of crime, marauders swarm through London’s affluent neighborhoods looting and burning.

Hooligans vs the Living Dead: A Victorian Zombie Adventure!

With the beleaguered police and the Queen’s army battling twin plagues—human and inhuman—London’s criminal youth gangs join forces to save their city. Will Tagget, leader of the Lambeth Lads, together with his enemies Bill Drummond of the Drury Lane Gang, bull-necked George Fish of the Elephant and Castle Gang, shillelagh-wielding Dirk Bogart of the New Cut Gang, Quincy Bird of City Road, along with their female counterparts—Lambeth Kate, Queen Jane, New Cut Beth, Razor Lil and Dirty Deidre—set out on an adventure the telling of which might earn a man a lifetime of free drinks. If he lives to tell it.

Will these violent gangs put aside their rivalries long enough to get the job done?

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

Mind over Magic by Lindsay BurokerMind Over Magic by Lindsay Buroker:

As a bookish, introverted database programmer, Morgen Keller never thought she was a candidate for a midlife crisis. That was before her husband divorced her, her boss let her go, and her grandmother died. Forty wasn’t supposed to look like this.

When Morgen heads up to the small town of Bellrock, Washington, to settle the estate, she looks forward to taking a peaceful break from life and figuring out what she’s going to do next.

But peace isn’t to be had. The old farmhouse is full of witch paraphernalia, a fearsome werewolf has claimed the property, and contrary to what the family was told, Grandma didn’t die of natural causes.

Embroiled in a mystery, and heir to powers she knew nothing about, Morgen must turn to the only person who might be able to help: the werewolf who threatened to rip her throat out for trespassing.

This isn’t the fresh start on life that Morgen had in mind.

A Witch in Wolf Wood is perfect for fans of mystery, magic, slow-burn romance, and second chances.

Realmshaker by A.J. EpikosRealmshaker by A.J. Epikos:

Rhonda is a noble giant, a huge savage beauty learning to become a ranger and a chieftess. But five centuries after a terrible war eliminated the noble giants’ civilization, Rhonda wakes up alone on a runic ritual site far from home. Her culture is plundered, erased, and nearly forgotten. Terrible beasts roam the land, and smaller beings are taking over. Stranger yet, there’s a mystical mechanism revealing to Rhonda her class, attributes, perks, star power, and more.

It’s the Star System!

And its master could be an eldritch thing covering the world, unknown to all except the giantess herself.

Follow Rhonda and her friends on an epic CONQUEST to collect star power, go berserk on their enemies, and make an impact no one can ignore. The noble giants’ civilization may have fallen, but it’s Rhonda’s birthright to shake the realm.

The Recruit by Rachel FordThe Recruit by Rachel Ford:

How much is freedom really worth?

The world ended five years ago. Caleb Franks has lived in the shadows ever since, scraping together a meager existence on his homestead with his faithful friend, a Great Pyrenees named Elim.

Then the North American People’s Army shows up, promising a new way of life: ready food, security, community, and maybe even a family someday, if he proves himself worthy. All they ask in return is absolute loyalty.

Caleb will need to make a choice: security, or freedom. All that hangs in the balance is everything.

This is a post-apocalyptic novelette. It is a work of speculative fiction and though in no way graphic, may contain elements that some readers will find disturbing.

Simultaneous Times Vol. 2.5 edited by Jean-Paul GarnierSimultaneous Times Vol. 2.5., edited by Jean-Paul Garnier:

From Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, California: A free e-book companion to the Space Cowboy Books Presents: Simultaneous Times science fiction anthology podcast.

Featuring stories by: Cora Buhlert, Kim Martin, Brent A. Harris, Renan Bernardo, RedBlueBlackSilver, Robin Rose Graves, Douglas A. Blanc, Michael Butterworth & J. Jeff Jones – with illustrations by: Austin Hart, Dante Luiz, Chynna DeSimone, Douglas A. Blanc, & Zara Kand.

Once Bitten by Tina GlasneckOnce Bitten by Tina Glasneck:

He saved my life, only to steal it away with his dragon’s blood.

Midlife was supposed to be steady, where I’d find everything I needed and finally get it together.

Nope. Hollywood lied. Because here I was, again, trying to get my legs under me.

Literally.

I’d lost my job, fallen into the Atlantic, and woken up changed forever. Forever as in eternity forever because the blood my rescuer gave me to save my life had one itty bitty unforeseen consequence.

It made me a vampire.

I know, fang my life.

Now I’d need a miracle just to get through the day. And that miracle is Alistair, the handsome dragon shifter who saved my life and really shouldn’t exist. But he is very much a real man–and a real temptation.

And he’s offering me a fresh start that comes with a secret organization of supernaturals who live in the shadows.

Looks like I’m getting a chance to start over.

I just had to die to finally start living.

Ghostly Endeavour by Lily Harper HartGhostly Endeavour by Lily Harper Hart:

Harper Harlow is ready to move forward with her business, which just so happens to include taking ownership of the beleaguered Whisper Cove Cemetery. She and her partner Zander Pritchett have big plans … until the day they close on the property and discover a body on one of the well-worn pathways.

Cassie Clifton is recently divorced, a devoted runner, and an individual with a lot of secrets. She was estranged from her parents before her death and apparently desperate to get out of town. Why, though? Harper is determined to figure answers, no matter how hard she has to dig.

Harper’s husband Jared Monroe is on the case but the proximity of death to his new wife has him spinning. It was supposed to be a fun business endeavor, a way for Harper to continue running her cemetery tours without oversight. It’s turned into so much more.

Harper and Jared join together, and when they uncover ties between Cassie and one of their closest friends, they’re thrown for a loop. Have they embedded themselves with a killer?

It’s a race to the finish to find Cassie’s murderer and bolster Harper’s new business in the process. It’s going to take everything they have – every member of their motley crew of friends working together – to cross the finish line safely.

Death is stalking Whisper Cove again. Will they all survive to see another day?

Phantom Masquerade by A.L. HawkePhantom Masquerade by A.L. Hawke:

And here is where I fall.

Mina Daaé dreams of performing on Broadway. Like her great ancestor, Christine Daaé, who sang at the prestigious Palais Garnier a hundred years before, Mina has the voice of an angel. But after graduating from Conservatoire de Paris, fortune fails her. Until the circus comes to town.

Mina’s close friend Toni Vollini offers her a role in his new Broadway play mixing Mozart with clowns. Known as The Harlequin, the musical is an inimitable adaptation of the opera Don Giovanni. Toni says Mina will soar, but with pathologic acrophobia, she’s afraid she’ll fall. And the ghost in her head says she will.

Toni and a ghost vie for her love, but Mina thinks her ghost is just another hallucination. Or is her ghost a phantom of the opera?

Phantom Masquerade is a contemporary adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera integrating romance and the paranormal.

Cthulhu Wants You by Rhys HughesCthulhu Wants You by Rhys Hughes:

A collection of short stories inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. These stories are not parodies or pastiches but darkly ironic fantasies that connect with the Mythos at a tangent. Open-minded devotees of Lovecraft may find amusement in the offbeat ideas, paradoxical plots, whimsical language and strange originality of these tales. But whether you know what you want or not, be assured of one thing: Cthulhu wants you!

 

 

A Dance with the Fae Prince by Elise KovaA Dance with the Fae Prince by Elisa Kova:

She knew her hand in marriage would be sold. She had no idea a fae prince was the buyer.

Katria swore she’d never fall in love. She’s seen what “love” means through the cruelty of her family. So when she’s married off to the mysterious Lord Fenwood for a handsome price, all Katria wants is a better life than the one she’s leaving. Feelings are off the table.

But her new husband makes not falling in love difficult.

As their attraction begins to grow, so too do the oddities within her new life: strange rules, screams in the night, and attacks by fae that Katria never thought were real. When she witnesses a ritual not meant for human eyes, Katria finds herself spirited away to the land of Midscape.

Surviving the fae wilds as a human is hard enough. Katria must survive as a human who accidently pilfered the magic of ancient kings – magic a bloodthirsty king is ready to kill her for in order to keep his stolen throne – and her new husband is the rightful heir in hiding.

The power to save the fae is in her hands. But who will save her from a love she vowed never to feel?

A Crone to Pick by Amanda M. LeeA Crone to Pick by Amanda M. Lee:

Scout Randall knows what she is, more than a witch, more powerful than she ever thought imaginable. She’s only hit the tip of the iceberg on what she can do. Now she has to grapple with another problem.

When her former partner Evan was believed dead in a vampire attack, she blamed herself, mourned, and tried to move on. Now he’s back, and he’s more than anybody ever imagined, too. Unfortunately, nobody can find him.

When news reaches Scout that there’s been a potential vampire attack in neighboring Hemlock Cove, she packs her bags and hits the parnormal tourist destination with her boyfriend Gunner as backup. She’s not prepared for what she finds, including a gaggle of witches who like to cause trouble wherever they go.

Evan is there, lurking in the shadows and struggling with an identity he didn’t ask for, but death is stalking the town from multiple directions. Murder, mayhem, and monsters are afoot and Scout is determined to get to the bottom of it all … even if her life is in danger in the process.

The baddest motorcycle gang in the Midwest is about to meet the Winchester witches. The world will never be the same.

Blood and Jade by Ken LizziBlood and Jade by Ken Lizzi:

When an ancient sorcerer pursues an enchanted blade at any cost, only one man stands in his way.

Archaeologists uncovering a lost Mayan city unearth a magic artifact. An earthquake disturbs the operations of neighboring narcotraffickers. An ancient sorcerer and his mercenary henchmen arrive to claim the artifact.

When these three factions converge, Karl Thorson, ex-Special Forces, is thrust into action.

Dexicos Megistos, a nigh immortal sorcerer, wants to retrieve a mystical jade dagger. Alejandra Matamoros-Lopez wants to smuggle narcotics through the tunnels beneath the ruins, avoiding the notice of rival cartels. Professor May Chen wants to see if any sparks remain from her relationship with the head of the archaeological dig.

Karl Thorson just wants to do his job, and maybe have a cold beer.

Can he safeguard the archaeologists, especially the lovely Professor May Chen? Can he defeat a murderous band of narcotraffickers? And can he deprive the sorcerer Dexicos Megistos of the jade dagger?

The Black Parade Boxed Set by Kyoko M.The Black Parade Boxed Set by Kyoko M.:

Praised by Publishers Weekly as “slickly paced” and “overflowing with witty banter,” The Black Parade (Book One), She Who Fights Monsters (Book Two), and The Holy Dark (Book Three) tell the tale of Seer Jordan Amador, her snarky partner and paramour Michael, and a siege of ghosts and murderous demons out to cause Hell on Earth.

The Black Parade (Book #1):
Jordan Amador. 21. New Yorker. Waitress. Mild alcoholic. Murderer.

Two years ago, Jordan accidentally shot and killed a Seer: a person who can see, hear, and talk to ghosts with unfinished business. Her crime came with a hefty price, too. She has two years to help a hundred souls cross over to the afterlife or her soul is bound for hell. Tough break.

As if that weren’t bad enough, two days before her deadline a handsome pain-in-the-ass poltergeist named Michael strolls into her life. His soul is the key to her salvation, but the cost just might be more than she can handle. Solving his death puts her right in the crosshairs of Belial: a vain, bloodthirsty archdemon who won’t rest until she’s his slave. Can she rescue Michael and save her own soul, or will they both be dragged down into the clutches of the eternal black parade?

She Who Fights Monsters (Book #2):
The dynamic supernatural duo of Seer Jordan Amador and her husband the archangel Michael is back in the sequel to the bestselling urban fantasy novel, The Black Parade, trying to solve a deadly case. Someone is methodically hunting down and murdering Seers one by one. After six months with no leads on the killer, Jordan and Michael are forced to work with their worst enemy—the archdemon Belial: a self-professed Prince of Hell who is dead set on stealing Jordan for himself. However, with the archdemon’s help, they pick up on the trail of the serial killer and plan to stop him no matter what the cost.

When the shocking truth behind the murderer’s identity is revealed, Jordan begins asking herself if she is still fighting for the good guys or has she become one of the monsters she is desperately trying to stop?

The Holy Dark (Book #3):
Sarcastic demon-slayer extraordinaire Jordan Amador has been locked in a year-long struggle to hunt down the thirty silver coins paid to Judas Iscariot. The mere touch of these coins is enough to kill any angel.

Jordan’s demonic opposition grows more desperate with each coin found, so they call on the ultimate reinforcement: Moloch, the Archdemon of War. Moloch puts out a contract on Jordan as well as her estranged husband, the Archangel Michael. Now Jordan and Michael will have to find a way to work together to survive against impossible odds and stop Moloch’s plan, or else he’ll wage a war that will wipe out the human race.

Flight to Bern Village by Jason OsiarFlight to Bern Village by Jason Osiar:

While a war rages in space, a revolutionary group of humans, shapeshifters, and telepaths gather to prove their races can live together in peace. They believe in peace enough to erase their memories and begin a primitive city on a secluded planet, Vastus.

Generations later, conflicts on Vastus force people to flee their city. Meanwhile, a few Peace Bringers arrive on a broken-down space station to observe the inhabitants on Vastus. What they see is anything but encouraging, and they must deal with problems of their own. Vastus Station is falling apart, and the relationships between the occupants are equally precarious.

The Awakening by Dusk PetersonThe Awakening by Dusk Peterson:

Barrett Boyd has awakened from death to a new and baffling life. He knows that he is a guard in the queendom’s royal prison, the Eternal Dungeon. But why do the prisoners matters so much to him? Who are these other guards who appear to have claims over him? And how will he survive while he finds his new place in this world?

As Barrett seeks to make sense of his surroundings, he must contend with a would-be love-mate, a grumbling rebel, deadly enemies, and the challenge of how to wield his expanded skills.

This suspenseful novel can be read on its own or as the first volume of Dungeon Guards, an alternate history series about nineteenth-century prison workers who seek love and companionship as they fight together against danger.

Dungeon Guards is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series about disreputable men on the margins of society, and the men and women who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as in a future that never existed, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times.

Now the Midcoast nations of this world have reached a turning point: the old order is about to be overthrown. Brought together in friendship and romance by the danger of rising events, the people of the Midcoast nations must learn to adjust to a new world.

Honored six times in the Rainbow Awards for LGBTA literature, Turn-of-the-Century Toughs presents an epic tale of adventure, friendship, romance, and class struggles.

Black As Night by Anthea SharpBlack As Night by Anthea Sharp:

One princess. Two realms. And a reckless choice that could destroy kingdoms…

Rose Valrois has escaped the sorcerous red priests and returned to the castle beside the enchanted Darkwood, but her troubles are far from over. Her stepsister, Princess Neeve, is more secretive than ever, and as war threatens, Rose’s mother pushes her toward a political alliance, even as her heart is torn between a heroic prince and the Dark Elf guardian of the forest.

But when Neeve makes a terrible choice, the fate of two kingdoms hangs in the balance. Rose must risk her freedom, her world, and even her heart to save her sister. Can she bear to make that sacrifice? Does she even have the choice?

Mage Commander by Glynn StewartMage Commander by Glynn Stewart:

Some soldiers are the shields of innocent souls
Others are the fanatics of their cause
And for them…no war is ever truly over!

Tempered on the anvil of the war against the secessionist UnArcana Worlds and tested against the evil of Project Orpheus, Mage-Commander Roslyn Chambers has risen through the ranks of the Royal Martian Navy to serve as second-in-command of one of their most prestigious battlecruisers, Duke of Magnificence.

A desperate call for help sends Roslyn and her new ship deep into the frontiers of Protectorate space, where they discover that hold-outs of the UnArcana Worlds’ fleets have returned to plunder innocent ships across the Fringe.

To protect the innocent and serve her Queen, Roslyn Chambers must rise to the task before her. She must learn to command—both herself and a warship of the Mage-Queen of Mars!

Murder at Magic Lake by Sandra Ulbrich AlmazanMurder at Magic Lake by Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

After losing her job, twenty-nine-year-old Abigail Ritter isn’t looking forward to returning to her hometown of Magic Lake, Wisconsin, for her grandmother’s birthday party. All she has to offer her family is her own special fruit juice and tea blend. But when Grandma suffers a fatal accident in her apartment building, The Grand, Abigail’s cousin Brian is blamed. Abigail will have to step up and investigate with the help of her best friend Sam, an intriguing detective, and a magical stuffed fox named Sherlock. Abigail’s got a plan for the Grand and its shuttered restaurant, but will she solve the case or drown in a sea of suspects?

Armagarden by Bryon VaughnArmagarden by Bryon Vaughn:

Getting away from NeuralTech was the easy part.

Staying out of the far-reaching sight of Brenna and the Garden is another matter. It doesn’t help that the Department of Defense is still hunting Jenny Mercado and her man Leo like dogs, and now there is a new mysterious force that threatens to destroy everyone they hold dear.

The very concept of escape is quaint in this brave new world of surveillance, and when their world is brutally shattered, Jenny and Leo must decide whether to keep running, or to find the courage to punch back.

ARMAGARDEN is the thrilling conclusion to the NeuralTech Rising trilogy, and will have readers pondering the nature of memory, and of reality, long after they have read the last page.

Martian Invasion by James David VictorMartian Invasion by James David Victor:

The stakes are escalating and no place in the galaxy seems to be safe, but Earth still has the Breaker Marine on their side.

Holly Cropper and her squad of Marines are finally being recognized for their accomplishments, but not even an awards ceremony is safe. When they are attacked by more of the very robots they just defeated, the entire planet of Mars might become collateral damage. Can Holly and her team track down and destroy all these robots or will they destroy everything on the red planet?

Martian Invasion is the third book in the Star Breaker series. If you like fast-paced space adventures with interesting characters who battle aliens, evil corporations, and space pirates, Holly Cropper and her team of Marines are ready to share their epic adventure with you.

Evolving Crane by Dave WelchEvolving Crane by Dave Welch:

An alien massacre brings the multiverse to war…

When Agent Lawson moves to London, Crane (her known felon boyfriend) is left to raise their child alone.

But as matters send him over the edge, Crane is abducted by aliens.

Now, trillions of galaxies away, the battle rages on, steering death across the stars. Uncanny events occur when Crane is molecularly augmented and shoved into this cosmic war.

Chrystine's Sleep Solution by Daniella WilliamsChrystine’s Sleep Solution by Danielle Williams:

It’s been over a year since insomniac Chrystine Brown got a full night’s rest. So she’s astounded—and relieved—when her new sleep music app puts her in a sound slumber and keeps her there.

But the app’s soothing interface conceals a horrifying secret.

A secret that’s become a part of her.

A secret she may never escape…

* * *

If you’re looking for scares that unnerve instead of nauseate, look no further. Horror stories from Danielle Williams lean towards slow-burn scares and the unsettling. If you take your creeps with a PG-13 sensibility—think The Sixth Sense, The Outer Limits, or The Twilight Zone—this is a story for you.

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