Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for May 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 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, 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, dark fantasy, sword and sorcery, fantasy romance, paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, near future science fiction, dystopian fiction, Cyberpunk, Steampunk, horror, magical realism, LitRPG, wizards, dragons, immortals, assassins, exorcists, first contact, alien abductions, super soldiers, space marines, stargates, crime-busting witches, crime-busting ghosts, pirates of the sea, the air and 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:

Wizard's Tower by Gregory AllantherWizard’s Tower by Gregory Allanther:

The humans call me Nemon Fargus. They call me wizard, and [Elementalist] and [Enchanter]. They call me teacher. They call me adventurer.

But I don’t care. Not anymore.

For more than 150 years I’ve served the Kingdom of Sena. Through four Kings and a Queen. Two wars and a rebellion. I’ve founded and taught at a magic school. I’ve fought against beast waves and dungeon breaks.

But now? Now, the one close friend I had left has passed. So, I’m done with their politics and their economics. The short and busy lives of humans are more burden than benefit on the weary soul of this half-elf.

Now, I’m looking for a refuge, a place that can well and truly be my own. Away from the growing cities and the bustling markets, away from the pointless wars, away from the eager students and the arrogant adventurers.

I’m seeking the peaceful life of a wizard in his tower, studying magic to advance my spellcraft…We’ll see if that happens.

Experience the start of a LitRPG Series from Gregory Allanther, the bestselling author of An Old Man’s Journey. With millions of views previously on Royal Road, this hit web serial is new and improved on Kindle & Audible.

Adrift in Starlight by Mindi BriarAdrift in Starlight by Mindi Briar:

When set adrift in the universe, some things are worth holding onto.

Titan Valentino has been offered a job they can’t refuse.

Tai, a gender-neutral courtesan, receives a scandalous proposition: seduce an actor’s virgin fiancée. The money is enough to pay off Tai’s crushing medical debt, a tantalizing prospect.

Too bad Aisha Malik isn’t the easy target they expect.

A standoffish historian who hates to be touched, she’s laser-focused on her career, and completely unaware that her marriage has been arranged behind her back. This could be the one instance where Tai’s charm and charisma fail them.

Then an accidental heist throws them together as partners in crime.

Fleeing from the Authorities, they’re dragged into one adventure after another: alien planets, pirate duels, and narrow escapes from the law. As Tai and Aisha open up to each other, deeper feelings kindle between them. But that reward money still hangs over Tai’s head. Telling Aisha the truth could ruin everything…

Their freedom, their career, and their blossoming love all hang in the balance. To save one might mean sacrificing the rest.

Sky on Fire by Lindsay BurokerSky on Fire by Lindsay Buroker:

The dragons of eld, once benevolent allies to mankind, have been infested by a magical parasite that makes them cruel and aggressive. They’ve flown through the ancient portal to invade Torvil and plan to kill or enslave all of humanity.

If Jak and his allies can’t figure out how to destroy the parasite, a parasite the powerful dragons themselves were helpless to thwart, everyone they care about—everyone in the world—will be doomed.

Panacea Genesis by L. Ana EllisPanecea Genesis by L. Ana Ellis:

Mariela Stafford’s life just hit rock bottom. Her boss, the CEO of Panacea Corp, created a digital clone of himself, demoted Mariela, gave the clone her job, and told Mariela to train it. Now the clone wants her to help it kill the CEO.

In 2115, embedded chips, virtual reality, and the threat of extreme weather have led to a market for businesses that keep a person’s body alive in a habitation pod while the person lives entirely in the metaverse. But not everyone embraces technological advances– a group of people have adopted the tech of 2005 while isolating themselves from the temptation of advanced technology. Panacea Corp – the world’s most powerful corporation – connects both worlds through providing the metaverse, the pod warehouses, and the land to the technology resisters.

Mariela Stafford, a vice president for Panacea Corp, is demoted after her new boss assigns his digital clone to take over her job. Assisted by Amoco, an eccentric polymath who also works for the corporation, she schemes a way to get rid of the clone. To delete it, they’ll need to recruit a team to access an eighty-year-old server farm in a remote location—which would be a lot easier to do if the records on the location of the server farm hadn’t been lost.

This ‘earth’ opera—a tale with all the drama, expansiveness, and varied cast of a space opera, but set on earth—will appeal to anyone who’s ever felt out-of-control of the technology in their lives.

Inquisitor's Bane by Rachel FordInquisitor’s Bane by Rachel Ford:

The Inquisitor is dead. But Black Port’s problems are only just beginning.

Knight Protector Portia Daysen returns to the South, she’s a new woman, with new secrets. She means to continue the work of Black Wyvern, the secret order intent on rescuing elves and dragons from captivity and death.

Meanwhile, Captain Valia Iceborn struggles with her growing feelings for Portia – and how they may be impacting her judgement. Should she stay in Black Port, and risk detection? Or should she go to ground now, before the king’s men – and a new inquisitor – show up?

When the pair learn of the kidnapping of a rare black wyvern hatchling, a hatchling who can communicate with mortals and immortals alike, they realize his rescue must be priority number one.

But if there’s one thing the nations of North and South can agree upon, it’s the danger to their own power that such a wyvern poses. To rescue the missing hatchling, the two women will need to contend with more than inquisitors.

They’ll need to outwit and outrun the forces of two nations, hellbent on stopping them by any means necessary.

Ghostly Shadows by Lily Harper HartGhostly Shadows by Lily Harper Hart:

Harper Harlow has it all, including a new business, a husband she adores, and a best friend she’s determined not to murder even though he’s determined to be the groomzilla to end all groomzillas. Life is good … until it’s not.

Everything is thrown into doubt when her former boyfriend, a grifter on trial for murder, escapes from the county courthouse and starts terrorizing Whisper Cove.

Her husband Jared Monroe is on edge. Quinn Jackson has proven himself to be a threat more than once, and it’s clear Quinn is gunning for Harper because he blames her for being caught in the first place. That means Zander and Shawn – who are in the midst of preparing for their wedding – have to move in so everybody is safe.

It’s a full house and the stakes are high. A dead courthouse guard is their only guide, and he’s not enough.

Harper is determined to get her happily ever after, as well as Zander’s too. That means they have to grapple with Quinn before the big day arrives.

Murder is on the menu and Quinn has nothing to lose. It’s a race to the finish – and down the aisle – and winner takes all.

Strap in. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Alondra by A.L. HawkeAlondra by A.L. Hawke:

I fell in love with a goth, but she’s a witch.

Starting school at Hawthorne University was not going well, until I met my classmate Alondra. Allie was different. She was goth. But she was also mysterious, confident and fun. I was into that. My name’s Liam. My friends call me Lee.

Things got weird after I accompanied her to her haunts. Poltergeists and demons attacked little girls. I watched Alondra help exorcise these ghosts, but some of their evil stuck to me.

Well, being attracted to a witch was one thing; dating one was quite another. It seemed the closer I got to Allie, the more her witchcraft endangered my friends. And my soul. You decide. I chronicled everything here in her book.

Alondra is a prequel to the internationally bestselling Hawthorne University Witch series. The novel takes place twenty years before Broomstick.

Content warning: Alondra is a new adult college paranormal romance containing profanity, sexual scenes, adult situations, and, of course, witchcraft.

Ambassador: The Unfolding Army by Patty JansenAmbassador: The Unfolding Army by Patty Jansen:

For three months, Cory and his team have hung with Asto’s military in orbit, watching as drone armies attacked Earth.

They could have helped more had Nations of Earth communicated with the fleet or if they could only find out where these drones come from, who controls them and from where. The enemy is smart, enmeshed with sections of Earth’s population and Asto’s military severely hamstrung by Nations of Earth playing chicken.

Three months ago, the president contacted Cory asking for help. The connection was interrupted and never re-established.

It’s as if they don’t want help.

Cory’s got gamra breathing down his neck with the requirement that Nations of Earth officially approves the presence of Asto’s military in orbit.

Something has to give.

He and his team return to a battle-scarred Earth on a hare-brained mission to talk to Nations of Earth, to check on the president, to get him to sign for approval. Getting there is hard. The state of the Nations of Earth assembly is deeply troubling. But getting out, that’s where it gets truly interesting.

The Obanaax by Kirk A. JohnsonThe Obanaax and Other Tales of Heroes and Horrors by Kirk A. Johnson:

“The Obanaax” is a collection of two novelettes and two short stories that take the reader on a journey to the world of Aaduna on the great northern continent of Mbor. This novel’s imaginative sword and sorcery world, influenced by several West African languages, sets this book apart from other stories explored in this genre. These narrative elements, naming conventions, and heart-pounding prose makes “The Obanaax” an adventure that will ignite a passion for exploring this undreamed-of new world far beyond the last page has turned. These tales from far afield will introduce to you the adventurous daring-do of those unaccustomed to the monstrous chaos of the unnatural and, at times, its alien desires. An epic for those willing to brave far and away from the world we know.

Dark Factory by Kathe KojaDark Factory by Kathe Koja:

Welcome to Dark Factory! You may experience strobe effects, Y reality, DJ beats, love, sex, betrayal, triple shot espresso, broken bones, broken dreams, ecstasy, self-knowledge, and the void.Dark Factory is a dance club: three floors of DJs, drinks, and customizable reality, everything you see and hear and feel. Ari Regon is the club’s wild card floor manager, Max Caspar is a stubborn DIY artist, both chasing a vision of true reality. And rogue journalist Marfa Carpenter is there to write it all down. Then a rooftop rave sets in motion a fathomless energy that may drive Ari and Max to the edge of the ultimate experience.Dark Factory is Kathe Koja’s wholly original new novel from Meerkat Press, that combines her award-winning writing and her skill directing immersive events, to create a story that unfolds on the page, online, and in the reader’s creative mind.

Sun & Dreams by J. Steven LampertiSun & Dream by J. Steven Lamperti:

Anise has power in her dreams – too much power.

When your dreams can change the world, you need to learn to control them.

Anise’s uncle Sebastian takes her to the Academy, the school where the wizards of Liamec learn to use their powers.

But the people in Anise’s small village are not the only ones who notice the young girl’s abilities. Who is the Watcher, the malevolent presence Anise feels in her dreams, and why is Helios, the sun-god, protecting her?

While Anise studies the ways of the wizards, a dark secret that hangs over the founding of the Academy threatens to unravel reality and destroy the land of Liamec.

Death's Touch by Erme LanderDeath’s Touch by Erme Lander:

Centuries ago Tomas made a promise and has kept it out of cowardice. He has lived under the radar for all this time, hiding from the authorities where he can. Recipient of a terrible gift, his belief that he is the only one like himself is about to be exploded. The gods’ favoured are corrupt, power hungry and know how to find him.




Friday the Witchteenth by Amanda M. LeeFriday the Witchteenth by Amanda M. Lee:

Bay Winchester is newly married and happy. Things have been quiet since she returned from her honeymoon, which means trouble is just around the corner. When it comes, it takes the form of a despondent man on a bridge. Despite her best efforts, Bay and the hostage negotiator can’t save him, and death is swift.

That should’ve been the end of it, but a weird symbol on the dead man’s hand piques Bay’s interest, and when the negotiator turns up sick with the same symptoms, she knows that they have a problem on their hands.

Suicide as a contagion? It’s not the fight Bay was expecting, and it’s definitely not the one she was looking for. Still, it’s the problem that keeps on giving … especially when it spreads to Mrs. Little.

In her heart, Bay knows that she shouldn’t care about the woman who has hurt her family at every turn. Ignoring the problem isn’t an option though. If she stands back and does nothing in an attempt to end the chain, she’ll never be able to live with herself. If she gets too close, she could get infected herself.

Bay has never doubted her magic, but the current fight is out of her wheelhouse. Magic is at the core of what’s happening, but their enemy is invisible.

The Winchester witches have never met an enemy they can’t fight … until now. Will they be able to pull together and save Hemlock Cove? Or is the town doomed to fall to a curse without a name and an evil without a soul?

Strap in, because the answer is more than anybody is expecting, and if everybody is to survive, the fight will have to move to an entirely new level.

The game is on. In this one, the winner will take all.

Fire by L.C. MawsonFire by L.C. Mawson:

It only takes one night for the world to turn on its head…

Finishing my second degree was supposed to be a quiet time of wrapping up my academic work and maybe making a friend or two before everyone left town. That was before the monsters started attacking.

I’ve always ignored the strange occurrences that tend to happen around me, but now these creatures are hunting me, everything I touch is erupting into flame, and all I’ve got to help is a guy I barely know, his reclusive sister, an invitation to train with a secretive magical faction, and a strange necklace that apparently belongs to the magical world’s most wanted…

I’m not used to trusting anyone, but as monsters close in, I don’t think I have a choice.

Iron Paws and the Tinker's Forced Marriage by Juli D. RevezzoIron Paws and the Tinker’s Forged Marriage by Juli D. Revezzo:

A year ago, Vesta Bartlett received a rather unusual assignment.

Now, as if perfecting her clockwork puppies for Queen Victoria weren’t enough, a surprise invitation to present them to the Texas Republic president makes Vesta question a number of things, including will the president accept the clockwork from a woman? Unsure, she agrees to allow Henry to go along, as her spokesman and husband, regardless of how her father may feel about a fake marriage.

But they have bigger problems than her father’s anger when an anti-alchemist group takes issue with her clockwork creations and decide they need to stop Vesta’s work. By any means, no matter how violent.

Speed of Dark by Patricia RickettsSpeed of Dark by Patricia Ricketts:

Mary Em Phillips has decided to end it all after losing her beloved Mamie, who raised her; her husband, Jack, who has left her for another woman; and her only son, Petey, who has died as a result of a freak bacterial infection. But when Mosely Albright, a black man from Chicago’s South Side, comes to her back door one morning needing a drink of water and seeking directions back to the train, her plans are derailed . . . to the chagrin of Mishigami (so named by the Ojibwe, also known as Lake Michigan), who has been trying to lure Mary Em into his icy depths in the hopes that she will save him.

Mary Em wants nothing more than to end her anguish. Mosely is searching for the love he’s been missing most of his life. And Mishigami—who fears he is dying from rampant pollution and overfishing—seeks a champion.

A story of friendship, survival, connection and the unquestioning power of nature told through three distinct voices, Speed of Dark affirms a love of humanity that transcends all else, including race and background.

The Exorcist's House by Nick RobertsThe Exorcist’s House by Nick Roberts:

This psychological thriller follows a family to their Appalachian farmhouse, where they encounter an unimaginable horror.

In the summer of 1994, psychologist Daniel Hill buys a rustic farmhouse nestled in the rolling hills of West Virginia.

Along with his wife and teenage daughter, the family uproots their lives in Ohio and moves south. They are initially seduced by the natural beauty of the country setting. That soon changes when they discover a hidden room in the basement with a well, boarded shut and adorned with crucifixes.

Local legends about the previous owner being an exorcist come to light, but by then, all Hell has broken loose.

This 1990s horror novel is perfect for fans of family thriller books, stories of demonic possession, exorcism fiction, the occult, or thrillers like The Exorcist, A Head Full of Ghosts, and The Amityville Horror.

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

Huntress by Glynn StewartHuntress by Glynn Stewart:

A peaceful world in the crosshairs
A rising threat armed by an old foe
A call to arms she can’t ignore…

Admiral Kira Demirci lost the coin toss with her second-in-command and was supposed to be taking a holiday. That meant waiting in the Redward System while Memorial Force’s new carrier Huntress was commissioned and turned over to the mercenary space fleet.

But when a stranger arrives looking to hire Memorial Force to protect her homeworld, Kira finds money, boredom and altruism combining to bring her into action. The majority of her fleet is elsewhere, but she has two heavy warships, including Huntress. More than enough to protect the pacifist system of Samuels from their neighbors.

Those neighbors were armed by Kira’s old foes in the Brisingr System, and she smells the hand of the Equilibrium Institute behind the scheme. A chance to protect the innocent and frustrate two old foes at once is hard to turn down—and even if things go wrong, the rest of her fleet is on their way.

She’s planned for everything. Hasn’t she?

City in the Sky by Glynn StewartCity in the Sky by Glynn Stewart:

“Killing a man isn’t an easy thing to live with, no matter the cause.”

Erik Tarverro is a skilled blacksmith, a better swordsman—and hated for his mixed aeradi parentage. Denied mastery of his craft in the human city he grew up in, he accepts a risky contract from a dangerous stranger.

With new enemies at his heels, he leaps at the chance to join his father’s people in the sky city of Newport. Despite his human blood, he finds his place among the aeradi: heir to an ancient noble family.

His duty leads him to sailing the skies and learning what it means to lead soldiers. But Erik’s enemies will have blood, and the peace between his people and the Draconan dragon riders is like a powder keg. All it would take is one spark—and dragons will fly on his newfound city in the sky.

Reclamation Mind Jack by E.L. StrifeReclamation Mind Jack by E.L. Strife:

Marci, a super soldier and escapee of the Astral’s bio-enhancement military program Zedger, has found a new purpose in rescuing others like her. But she can’t do it alone, and not without parts. Marci must travel to the last standing city of Tellurians in the irradiated expanse of Zion. There, in EsoTerra, she must fight for her right to trade with others for what she requires.

She tries to hide her identity, mask her skills, play down her expertise, but too many have heard rumors of her. Marci can’t hide from the truth forever.

Soon, she finds herself helping other soldiers dumped from Zedger. Recent “disposals” have lost their minds to the Genesis program Astrals use to control their creations. Marci must deep dive the soldiers’ cerebral enhancements to figure out why and salvage everyone she can.

What she discovers when searching Genesis streams alerts Astrals to her position. Lead rain soon falls from the sky in the form of BloodTitans.

Can Marci save the soldiers and her people? Or is this the Tellurians’ last stand?

With Slight Tremors by Ed TejaWith Slight Tremors by Ed Teja:

It’s time to take a break from the world you think you know and to step through into another one. These five stories offer a guided tour of new possibilities and different places. They rely on magic, science, and sleight of hand, and will betray your trust at every opportunity. But just because they are fantastic, doesn’t mean they aren’t real (somewhere).

You can stay tucked away on a safe perch and let this book unveil the genre-bending consequences of rather minor changes to a world that might be the one you live in, or might not; you can follow the way events unravel when cause and effect aren’t quite so boringly predictable.

Stories of ideas are, however, always dangerous. Consider yourself warned.

Martian Jump Gate by James David VictorMartian Jump Gate by James David Victor:

Humanity has opened a door that allows for instantaneous travel through the stars. What they find on the other side might mean the end of all mankind.

The invention of jump-gates has allowed instantaneous travel throughout the solar system, and beyond. Captain Shoji Mora will lead the first expedition through the jump-gate to Mars in a gigantic space robot known as Tin Man. Their mission soon turns from mining and exploration to defending humanity from an alien invasion. Can the giant space robot defend mankind from certain destruction at the hands of a superior alien armada?

Mars Jump Gate is the first book in the Tin Man Space Opera Adventure. If you like fast-paced sci-fi adventures, make Tin Man your next epic space adventure.

The Orion Abduction by Dylan WhiteThe Orion Abduction by Dylan White:

He’s either the key to our evolution or our destruction. And they’re coming for him.

For most of his fifteen years, Joshua Fox believed he was being abducted by aliens.

Just searching for normalcy in his small Kansas town, he discovers he’s unwittingly been involved in something much bigger and everything he thought he knew is now in question.

All Josh really knows is he must find out the truth before it’s too late—not just to save himself and his friends, but the entire world.

Grayshade by Gregory A. WilsonGrayshade by Gregory A. Wilson:

For ten years, the assassin Grayshade has eliminated threats to the Order of Argoth, the Just God. Within the towering walls of Cohrelle, all bow to the Order’s authority, even while the city officials publicly distance themselves from its actions.

As the supreme executor of the Order’s edicts, Grayshade dispatches his targets with protocol and precision. But when an assignment breaks these rules, he does the most dangerous thing an Acolyte of Argoth can do: he asks why. Now a target of the Order he so long served without question, he must use all of his skills not only to kill . . . but to stay alive.

Grayshade is a novel of violent faith and shifting loyalties, a story about whether we can rise above our pasts to craft new futures.

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