Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for January 2022

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 December 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, fantasy romance, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, space opera, military science fiction, humorous science fiction, science fiction noir, science fiction romance, dystopian fiction, YA fantasy, futuristic fairytales, cyberpunk, non-fiction, werewolves, shifters, mages, fae, admirals, culture wars, forbidden love, futuristic Snow Whites, crime-busting witches, crime-busting ghosts, intergalactic backpackers, pirates of the sea and in space 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:

Moment of Tooth by Lindsay BurokerMoment of Tooth by Lindsay Buroker:

Morgen Keller’s life has been chaotic since she inherited her grandmother’s old house—and her legacy as a witch.

Werewolves regularly attack her, familiars spy on her, and enemies she didn’t ask for keep lighting her property on fire.

Through everything, she’s been fortunate to have one steadfast ally: Amar.

The lone werewolf is a fearsome fighter, a loyal protector, and he’s sexy in nothing but a magical talisman.

Just as Morgen and Amar overcome most of her problems and officially start dating, trouble from his past arrives in town. The powerful enemy who long ago slew his parents has come to finish off the family.

As strong as Amar is, he may not be able to handle his old nemesis alone. But will he let Morgen help? And is it within her fledgling power as a witch to do so?

Maelstrom by Jonathan P. BrazeeMaelstrom by Jonathan P. Brazee:

War came to Capernica on a beautiful Landing Day . . .

Mario Despiri was the son of Capernica’s most famous veteran, and he wanted nothing more than to follow in his late father’s footsteps. But physically disabled as a victim of Moriori Syndrome, that just wasn’t in the cards for him.

When the Wolvic attack the planet, most citizens are hastily conscripted to fight the invaders. But not even then is Mario given a weapon and told to march to the sound of gunfire.

Mario is determined to do his part to help throw off the enemy. But ignored and shunted aside, what can he do?

Adventures in Intergalactic Backpacking by Debra DunbarAdventures in Intergalactic Backpacking by Debra Dunbar:

You know what’s worse than being abducted by aliens, poked and prodded, then dumped on a weird planet with nothing but a bag of food pellets and my backpack?

Having to go through all this with Ethan.

He’s the walking stereotype of a rich, privileged dude-bro, and it was the worst day of my life when the aliens grabbed him along with me.

I need to learn how to survive, to find food and shelter and not get eaten by the monsters that roam this place. I need to figure out where I am, and why these aliens keep showing up to gawk and throw canned tuna at me. And I need a cup of coffee. I seriously need a cup of coffee.

Most of all, I need to not kill Ethan, because although he’s a jerk, at least he’s a human jerk. Besides, I might need to trade him for a spaceship ride home.

Full Moon Saloon by Aimee EasterlingFull Moon Saloon by Aimee Easterling:

A fox making a name for herself in a wolf’s world.

I’m Kira Fairwood — fox shifter, bane of the werewolves, and also their employee. My job isn’t just a paycheck. It’s a way to ensure my unborn niece’s heritage won’t work against her when she grows up.

So I dive right in to bag a hot alpha werewolf who’s using his bar as a front to murder human women. Unfortunately, I soon discover Thom is being framed.

Then the true murderer begins to hunt the hunters. Can I keep my family safe by continuing to follow orders like a wolf?

Debarkle: Saga of a Culture War by Camestros FelaptonDebarkle: Saga of a Culture War by Camestros Felapton:

The collected version of all three volumes of Debarkle: Saga of a Culture War. In 2015 a major controversy broke out in the world of science fiction’s most prestigious literary award. Debarkle traces the history of this controversy, examining the roots and consequences of the events.

 

 

Black Port by Rachel FordBlack Port by Rachel Ford:

A secret order, hunted by two rival kingdoms. A network of spies and saboteurs.

Valia Iceborn is the daughter of two worlds, and a servant of none: her mother was a Northern outlaw and her father a Southern deserter. She grew up in the wilds of No Man’s Land, but the open sea is her home. She swears no allegiances, lest they be to gold.
Knight Protector Portia Daysen is a loyal of daughter of the empire. She goes where she’s told, and does what she’s told. When the empire sends her to the bustling city of Black Port to ferret out a mysterious secret order threatening stability in the region, she doesn’t think twice.

Plunged into a world of deceit and derring-do, where no one is who they pretend to be, and nothing is at it seems, Daysen’s investigation leads her to Valia’s dock.

And crossing sabers with the most formidable – and charming – foe of her career might be the last mission Knight Protector Portia Daysen ever takes.

Captain Overboard by Rachel FordCaptain Overboard by Rachel Ford:

Some days, it’s sink or swim.

Fresh off a successful mission, everything looks like it’s going swimmingly for the crew of the Black Flag. Right up until Captain Magdalene Landon-Ellis vanishes on her way back from a meeting with the admiralty.

With few clues about her disappearance and Union leadership proving as tightlipped as ever, Chief Engineer Katherine Ellis-Landon and the crew of the Black Flag decide to take matters into their own hands.

They’re going to figure out what happened to Maggie, and they’re going to get her back. Come hell or high water.

Caden Adams and the Gauntlet by Puck FraserCaden Adams and the Gauntlet by Puck Fraser:

Caden B. Adams is a normal 13-year-old boy living in Beacon Hill. Or is he?

Winged Giants and a menacing creature who calls himself “Beloved” lurk in the shadows of Beacon Hill where 13-year-old Caden Adams lives in a brownstone shrouded by snow flurries in the heat of August. His father, a NASA astronaut, has disappeared, and his mother, a renowned MIT scientist, has a secret she won’t reveal.Bullied at school for his psychic ability, a mark appears on Caden’s bedroom wall – a lopsided asterisk. The symbol represents more than a life-or-death challenge; it is a gauntlet of worlds that need Caden’s help.Time is running out, as Beloved gains strength with every passing day. And Caden must decide for himself if he will answer the call of *be.

Without Disruption by Carrie FrenchWithout Disruption by Carrie French:

In pursuit of a different life, Harrison leaves everything behind – his family, his community, and even his own name. He can never go back.

Global society is united with a simple guarantee: everyone can achieve stable, lasting happiness for one hundred years in a curated lifestyle that brings them joy. Well… not unlimited joy, just mild contentment. No more, no less.

Every element of life is controlled by Vie – an AI system that is worshipped as divine. She guides members into ‘harmony’ with in-ear alerts, retina screens, and vast, immersive simulations.

Harrison is ambitious and impulsive with a curious habit of recalling hazy memories that never happened. The course of his life is punctuated with hasty decisions, emotional compromises, and genuine attempts to play by the rules.

He’s not only running out of options; he’s running out of time. Is Harrison’s will strong enough to break Vie’s authoritarian hold? Or will he finally learn to settle for mediocrity, just like everyone else?

The threat of ‘eviction’ is looming, and Harrison’s death day might come sooner than he thinks.

Snow So White by C. GockelSnow So White by C. Gockel:

Once upon a future-time, in a city of steel, concrete, and Magick, a wicked queen trapped a mighty warrior with a curse …

In the tiny village of Somer, far from the city, Cherie knows nothing of the evil spell. Her home is a safe, Magickal place. The Fae travel freely along its roads, Magickal humans and animals are welcome, and everyone is hidden from the Queen’s sight by Jack Frost, the local ghost, who blurs the Queen’s mirror with snow and ice.

But when Jack’s spell begins to crack, the Queen’s eyes fall on Somer. Nothing will keep her from abducting all of Somer’s Magickals, not even a war with the Fae.

To avert a war, save her village–and herself–Cherie strikes a perilous bargain. Aided only by Jack and her own small Magick, she’ll set off on a quest … If she fails, she’ll lose more than her life.

A retelling of Snow White with Urban Magick, plenty of folklore, and a Princess Charming.

Blade of Ghosts by Julian GyllBlade of Ghosts by Julian Gyll:

The Hollow is dying.

Beset by nightmarish creatures from the caverns below, Jason’s tribe is slowly being whittled away. Only a brave few still stand against the darkness.

Jason dreams of joining the glorious Shadowfront and battling the enemy known only as the Void. But as a lowly Pastfinder, he is denied that path and forced to serve as little more than a glorified scavenger.

It is only when he chances upon the ruins of a long dead civilization that his fortunes change. Jason discovers a forgotten form of cultivation, one fueled by the ghosts of centuries-lost history and powerful, forbidden knowledge.

For the first time in his life, Jason has the strength to join the fight against the shadows.

But if his fellow tribesmen learn of his new power’s cursed origins, the Void will be the least of his concerns…

Ghostly Problems by Lily Harper HartGhostly Problems by Lily Harper Hart:

Harper Harlow-Monroe is settling into married life well. Her biggest problem is her best friend Zander, who is planning his own wedding. That is until a new resident comes to Harper with a poltergeist problem.

Beckham Lighthouse is located in a unique spot, where the lake and the river meet. When a body washes up on the shore close to the building, talk turns to the poltergeist … which they’re having zero luck dealing with.

Harper’s husband Jared, a local police detective, believes they’re looking for a human culprit. Harper thinks her case and his might be connected. Together, they have to dig deep. Things take a turn when Jared realizes that the new owner of the lighthouse is a familiar face from his past.

Debbie Montlake was an ex-girlfriend he had no problem leaving behind. Her appearance in town right when a murder occurs has him rattled, however, even as Harper starts bonding with the woman.

There’s a killer on the loose and a poltergeist locked in a lighthouse. Are the two things connected? Harper is determined to find out, even if she has to ask for help from a witchy friend to get her answers.

Magic is might, and Harper’s group has magic on their side. Survival isn’t a given, however. Everybody is going to have to work together to solve this one, and even then, the answers might be more than anybody can bear.

Half Human by John HundleyHalf Human by John Hundley:

Last time they met, she promised to kill him. Now their lives depend on each other. Will she have his back … or blow a hole in it?

An outer arm of the Milky Way. Shifter Clifford Crane owes a debt from his past, and payback is taking a job with Half Human Enterprises. It’s a setup. The other new hire is a deadly female alpha – who promised to kill him if he ever re-entered her life.

Heather Felton has been tricked into taking a job with HHE. It’s an eclectic mix of scientists, technicians, and forgotten heroes who want to take down the paramilitary corporation controlling commerce in the human colonies. It’s an ambitious undertaking. It doesn’t seem humanly possible. But she can’t bet against them. They’re only half human.

The SS Huey’s captain has tagged Clifford and Heather for an undercover mission. If they can pull it off, they’ll stop an evil oligarch from supplying THE Corporation with an army of cyborgs. But the clock is ticking – on the time they can stay alive until their cover is blown – and how long they can work together without killing each other.

The Joy of Hex by Amanda M. LeeThe Joy of Hex by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter is living the good life until a group of authors shows up on Moonstone Bay, and one of them clearly has murder on their mind.

Jasmine Riley was the lone female writer in a male-dominated genre, and she was on top of her game. When she winds up dead in the ditch on the highway outside of the city, suspicion turns to her competition. There’s just one problem … the culprit might be supernatural.

Hadley not only finds the body but is injured in the aftermath, catching a glimpse of a door to another world before losing consciousness. Did the head injury cause her to hallucinate, or was it something more?

Galen taps Hadley to be his partner on the case, convinced that’s the best way to keep her from finding trouble. Unfortunately for both of them, plane doors are starting to open all over the island, and with them come monsters from another world. That means trouble continuously finds them.

Plane doors are forbidden on Moonstone Bay, but somebody doesn’t care about the rules. Hadley is determined to find answers … and she gets help in the form of Bay Winchester, a Michigan witch on her honeymoon with FBI Agent Landon Michaels. Together, they start digging … and find that not all monsters are obvious.

Someone is controlling the plane doors. That someone is putting everyone on the island at risk. Hadley is determined to find out who … and stop them. Along the way, she will find new friends … and maybe even the ever-elusive shark shifter she’s been dying to cross paths with.

It’s a meeting of powerful witches and a battle for the ages. Strap in and enjoy the ride.

Frozen Hearts and Death Magic by Day LeitaoFrozen Hearts and Death Magic by Day Leitao:

A forbidden fae kiss could be deadly.

Naia was raised in the shadow of her twin brother, the crown prince, who has iron magic much more powerful than hers. But Naia has wishes of her own. They awaken when she finds a white fae almost dying in the woods. She only heard of them in stories; the dreaded race that razed cities to the ground, killed her grandparents, almost rid Aluria of humans—until they disappeared. Now, almost twenty years later, are they back? Is there another war coming?

But the fae is evasive and secretive—and also alluring and fascinating, more beautiful than anyone she’s ever seen. And then it happens: Naia kisses him—and nothing will be the same again.

In another kingdom, Leah, a necromancer princess, has to find a husband in less than four days, during the gathering, when royals from all over Aluria meet. Her family makes it very clear that she can pick any prince she wants—except one: Naia’s brother. And it turns out that he’s the one; the one who makes her heart beat faster.

Meanwhile, war looms over the land. One of the kingdoms is amassing immense power. The White Fae might be returning. Amidst it all, Naia and her brother struggle with newfound magical powers, family secrets, and most of all, their own treacherous hearts.

Endpoint by M. PaxEnd Point by M. Pax:

What are you willing to lose in order to win?

Only Craze seems to understand the galaxy is about to be lost.

He can no longer keep the evil Quassers contained, and winning the war gets harder. The Quassers join forces with another enemy and become more threatening, more destructive, and more murderous.

Planet after planet falls, and the only hope Craze has is a handful of tiny discoveries that might add up to a viable strategy. But he needs the other planets in the galaxy working with him. So far, everybody is still out for themselves, leaving him to make the gut-wrenching decisions—the deaths of innocents in exchange for everyone’s survival.

Will his efforts yield victory, or does humanity take its last breaths?

Smoke and Mirrors by Christine PopeSmoke and Mirrors by Christine Pope:

When the truth burns away her illusions, only one man can break her fall.

A few months ago, Skyler Fields didn’t believe witches were real. Until she was kidnapped and held prisoner in a facility that forced her to face the fact — she is one. And not just a run-of-the-broom witch with a cool party trick, either. She can control fire with a mere thought, and detect when other witches are nearby.

Freed with the help of a fellow prisoner, she follows her thumb to Arizona, where, she’s told, the Wilcox clan will give her the help she needs. She never expected the first Wilcox she meets to make her pulse race.

With his tall, dark good looks and smoke-gray eyes, Jasper Wilcox could easily distract Skyler from her mission. But she has questions about her heritage, and the buzzing in her head tells her she’s in the presence of a warlock who can get her the answers she so desperately craves.

As Skyler and Jasper work to peel away the lies surrounding the source of her gifts, they are irresistibly drawn together. But the deeper they dig, the greater the danger that the truth will tear them apart…and put the entire Wilcox clan in danger.

That Hardline Habit by Elliott ScottThe Hardline Habit by Elliott Scott:

“A Sci-Fi Dresden files with a gritty edge! I couldn’t put it down.”

Felix Lasko always wanted to be a detective, even if it meant working his way up from the bottom of the barrel. Little did he know how deep that barrel would be in the futuristic city Neotopia.

The only client he can find is a Presser—an addict who gets his thrills by flooding his brain with pleasure straight through the wire in his skull. Even if Felix can find the device the man is looking for, getting paid by the junkie is another challenge.

Can he solve the case and get his foot in the door as a detective? Or will he strike out and let his dream slip through his fingers?

Join Felix in Elliott Scott’s hilarious and engaging Sci-Fi Noir Mystery story.

Admiral's Oath by Glynn StewartAdmiral’s Oath by Glynn Stewart:

CASTLE FEDERATION RETURNS

An empire broken by hubris
An officer raised by chance
Oaths that must be honored
Oaths that must be betrayed

Rear Admiral James Tecumseh barely survived his last mission against the Alliance of Free Stars with his reputation and life intact. Under a cloud of suspicion, he has been assigned to a quiet sector far from the front of the Terran Commonwealth’s war with the Castle Federation and its allies.

But when the Federation’s Operation Medusa cripples his nation’s communications and plummets an interstellar empire into silence, Admiral Tecumseh finds himself thrust into command of an entire fleet—and responsible for the safety of billions of innocent souls.

Enemies internal and external alike challenge the nation he is sworn to serve. Duty and honor call him to action to protect the innocent, and the Admiral and his new fleet are called to war once more.

But the darkest treason lurks where no one expects it…

Spell Master by Alex C. VickSpell Master by Alex C. Vick:

Luca is having an identity crisis. His magic is behaving strangely, his emotions are out of control, and training to be a Master Mage is tougher than he ever expected. The support of his boyfriend, Devin, is one of the few things Luca can depend on.

Then Luca and Devin learn the terrible secret behind the High Council’s smiling public face. The magical dimensions are in the final stages of an ancient curse. Supplies of magic are disappearing. Everyone could die. And the only clue points to Light Mages.

As Luca’s training progresses, some members of the High Council become convinced he is mixed up in the curse. Loyalties are pushed to the limit. And when Luca and Devin finally uncover the truth behind the history of their world, everything they thought they knew about Light Mages is turned upside down.

The price for breaking the curse is a deadly one. But which of them will pay it?

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