Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for May 2020

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some 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, dark fantasy, sword and sorcery, horror, paranormal mysteries, time travel romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, weird westerns, dragons, ghosts, monsters, demons, knights, necromancers, immortals, superheroes, space marines, intergalactic relic hunters, tentacled terrors, crime-busting witches, swashbuckling cats 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:

Oblivion by Andrew BlinstonOblivion by Andy Blinston:

Once a god, now a target.

Darius wakes surrounded by blood. Most of his mind has been stolen, and the dark figure that took it wants the rest.

Caught in a centuries-old war between the human empire and fiery rakkan invaders, he soon learns his fearsome powers have made him an enemy to many.

Unable to tell friend from foe, he must fight to escape the one hunting him, the one who seeks to turn him into a mindless puppet.

His only allies are his panther and the captivating but callous Alexandra, who promises to restore him to former glory. But can she be trusted?

Is he ready to discover the truth of who he was, and why he’s wanted?

The Thing from the Dread Swamp by Richard Blakemore and Cora BuhlertThe Thing from the Dread Swamp by Richard Blakemore and Cora Buhlert:

While travelling through the Dread Swamp, Thurvok, the sellsword, and his friends, Meldom, thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin, Meldom’s sweetheart Lysha and the sorceress Sharenna come across an overturned wagon and the terrified merchant Polyxo who babbles that a monster has taken his daughter Cerissa. Because they are heroes – and because Polyxo has offered them a sizeable reward – the quartet of adventurers offers to rescue Cerissa from the thing that lives in the Dread Swamp.

This is a short story of 5300 words or 19 print pages in the Thurvok sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

The Tentacled Terror by Richard Blakemore and Cora BuhlertThe Tentacled Terror by Richard Blakemore and Cora Buhlert:

Thurvok, the sellsword, and his friends Meldom, thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin, the sorceress Sharenna and Meldom’s sweetheart Lysha set sail for the sunken city of Nhom’zonac, looking for the lost treasure of the Sea Kings. But they have to get past the Lovecraftian horror guarding the city first.

This is a short story of 5300 words or 19 print pages in the Thurvok sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

Elven Doom by Lindsay BurokerElven Doom by Lindsay Buroker:

Dragons make life complicated. Extremely complicated.

After returning from Idaho, I was hoping to have time to figure things out with Zav—also known as Lord Zavryd, the dragon who claimed me as his mate without asking—but the dark elves are up to their old tricks again.

Actually, they’re up to far more deadly tricks, using more powerful magic than I knew existed. I have no idea how I’m going to stop them, but if I can’t, my entire city and everybody I care about could be obliterated.

To make matters worse, Zav’s sister has shown up and is rooting around in my life. His family doesn’t approve of me, and she plans to put an end to our relationship… one way or another.

Dragon Physician by Joyce ChngDragon Physician by Joyce Chng:

Can Jixin succeed in a world of dragon racing run by powerful women? Can he fight the system and fulfil his dream of becoming a dragon rider? Or does he choose instead to be a dragon physician like his mother? Jixin finds his world suddenly changed when Lu Si, the scion of a Rookery owner, takes a shine on him. He is plunged straight into the lucrative world of dragon racing… Will his life change?

 

 

Toga by Karen DiemToga by Karen Diem:

Go home, myths , you’re drunk.

After a magical accident, part-time superhero Zita Garcia and her two closest friends wake up stranded in an ancient Greece that could only have existed if all the myths were real and somewhat inebriated.

Unfortunately, they can only leave with help from the locals, not all of whom are friendly. The dryads are downright deadly, and even the normally chatty centaurs aren’t talking. To convince them to assist, Zita and her friends will have to go questing, just like in all the classic fantasy novels. The ones Zita never bothered to read.

If they win, they’ll get the help they need.

If they don’t, they better get used to togas.

Toga is the fifth in the Arca superhero urban fantasy series and includes deliberate historical inaccuracies, immoderate language, lame sexual innuendo, and comic book violence.

How to Science Fictionally by Camestros FelaptonHow to Science Fictionally: A User Guide to Made Up Stuff by Camestros Felapton:

How can you make your space ship travel faster than light? How can you make your teleporter work? How are you going to send a message home and how are you going to style your beard? These and many other questions are often badly answered in this compendium of essays from Camestros Felapton. Ranging from flippant to occasionally researched, this book answers all of the least important questions in modern sci-fi.

Essential reading for aspiring science fiction authors.

The necromancer by Rachel FordThe Necromancer by Rachel Ford:

A rash of grave robberies. A cursed barrow. A case that will test the balance between magic and law.

When bodies turn up missing, the mage’s academy assigns the case to Apprentice Idun Wintermoon. With the jarl’s liaison for all things magical, Lissette Forlatt, and her best friend, the giant Njal, they try to track the thief.

But the closer they get to answers, the further away from truth they find themselves. When a series of strange visions brings Lissette to the ruins of the long abandoned goblin kingdom, they descend into a dark and terrible world of magic and secrets.

They’re in a race against time as they try to stop the Necromancer. But to get to her, they have to tread where the dead sleep – or worse, don’t.

And if they’re not careful, they’ll end up forgotten denizens of the undead themselves.

Viper's Nest by Rachel FordViper’s Nest by Rachel Ford:

Banished, shipwrecked and sent to the arenas.

Trygve Bjarneson lost everything. And he deserved it. He knows that. So when he’s given the opportunity to regain some of his honor, and reclaim his life in the process, he takes it.

Little does the once future-king realize that the seemingly straightforward job of bodyguard to Empress Cassia is anything but. Machiavellian politics are just the beginning. He’s about to be plunged into a dark world of bloody murder, grim assassinations, and deadly rivalries. It will take every bit of cunning and ingenuity to protect the empress from her enemies.

But if his foes have their way, he will wish he never made it out of the arenas alive.

Ghostly Business by Lily Harper HartGhostly Business by Lily Harper Hart:

Every “quiet” town has secrets. The one nobody expected is about to rock Whisper Cove.

During what should’ve been a romantic double date, a fire breaks out at a historic home. Harper Harlow and Jared Monroe race to the scene to make sure nobody is trapped or in danger … and discover one heck of a secret.

It seems the house, which was owned by a solitary older woman who kept to herself, was being run as a brothel. Now she’s dead and there’s a bevy of married men on the hot seat for her murder.

Harper has a cantankerous ghost to deal with … and a bevy of odd emotions running roughshod over her mental health. She feels like an invader in her own skin, and she can’t figure out why.

Jared’s problems are even more pronounced. Whenever he questions an individual present at the house that night, they threaten him with a legal suit before clamming up. On top of that, he’s worried about Harper, who seems fixated on the case.

Since the moment they met, they were joined at the hip … and lips. Now, that unshakeable bond they’ve always reveled in is going to be put to the test.

Nothing can break them apart … but that doesn’t mean outside forces won’t try, and they might be willing to kill to do it.

To Love a Witch by Amanda M. LeeTo Love a Witch by Amanda M. Lee:

Bay Winchester is at a crossroads in her life. Her powers are growing, her personal life is settled, and there’s a young witch in crisis under her care.

Things are … difficult.

A good witch at heart, Bay knows that the teenager she’s trying to tame is dangerous. To keep Hemlock Cove safe, she’s isolated her at the campground property she owns with her boyfriend Landon. While visiting one day, a ghost catches her attention across the lake … and when Bay crosses to investigate, she finds a fresh body and a whole lot of trouble.

It seems the new property owner is currently dating the victim’s ex-boyfriend and there’s a convoluted mess to untangle. That’s on top of the other people in town – including Aunt Tillie’s nemesis Mrs. Little – who keep showing up at the lake with an agenda.

Bay has no idea what to do. She needs to keep her teenage protégé hidden while uncovering a deadly story of an affair gone wrong and greed run amok. All the while she wonders what will happen if she can’t turn things around for her new teenage responsibility. What will she have to do to protect the people that she loves?

If that wasn’t enough, Landon is acting out of sorts. His demeanor is strange and he’s having secret conversations with her mother while trying to keep Bay out of his sock drawer. She can’t figure out why and her imagination is running wild.

It’s going to be a race to the finish. There’s an out-of-control ghost, a teenager who doesn’t want to be helped, and a man who has a plan to give his favorite witch everything she’s ever wanted.

This is the one you’ve been waiting for. The big moment is finally here.

The Whisper Killer by Rob LittleThe Whisper Killer by Rod Little:

Wolf Hollow is not like other towns. It gets what it needs.

Ben is a baby-faced serial killer who can charm his victims with a smile. But when he stumbles into Wolf Hollow to hide from the FBI, it’s the town that charms him and convinces him to stay. Because Wolf Hollow gets what it needs, and it needs Ben. It knows his secret.
Ben isn’t alone. He shares his body with a century-old demon. He may be the town’s worst nightmare, but he’s exactly what they need.

Under cover of a blinding snowstorm, a bitter enemy returns to Wolf Hollow, a group of men hell-bent on revenge, resolved to wipe out the entire town and leave no survivors. Only Ben has what it takes to stand in their way . . . if he chooses. He is their only hope.

Because some evils can only be met by a greater evil.

Insurgent by Ken LozitoInsurgent by Ken Lozito:

As Connor secretly searches for the enemy homeworld, he launches clandestine military operations to liberate other worlds in hopes of gaining allies before the enemy can find the last human colony.

The humans cannot hope to compete with the enemy’s vast empire, but with the discovery of a new ally, Connor believes their luck has finally changed.

Instead, when new allies clash with the old, Connor finds himself caught in the middle. Connor will have to choose whether doing what’s necessary to ensure the colony survives is worth compromising his loyalty to allies close to home, but the price could ultimately tear the colony apart.

Surviving a war with the enemy isn’t always a numbers game, but in choosing one ally, will Connor lose it all?

Orion Rises by G.J. OgdenOrion Rises by G.J. Ogden:

Kicked out of the Relic Guardian Force, Hudson Powell has started down the path to becoming a relic hunter. Fortune awaits inside the mysterious, alien hulks found on every planet throughout the vast network of portal worlds. The only problem is, he’s broke and he doesn’t have a starship.

A chance encounter with Liberty Devan – a streetwise, genius ship mechanic – provides him with an unlikely relic-hunting partner. Unfortunately, Hudson’s former RGF boss, Logan Griff, still wants him dead, and Griff has hired two of the galaxy’s deadliest mercenaries to get him.

Fortunately for Hudson, one of them has taken a shine to him.

Fighting to stay one step ahead of Logan Griff, Hudson and Liberty discover the first new portal in a century. But embarking on a relic hunt to a new and unexplored star system, they find an alien intelligence that warns them of a grave threat to humanity.

The secrets of the alien wrecks are about to be uncovered. And it isn’t good news.

Swashbuckling Cats by Rhonda ParrishSwashbuckling Cats, edited by Rhonda Parrish:

If you think cats and water don’t mix, think again.

Plunge into worlds of piratical cats: some selfish, some mischievous, all fond of hitting the catnip stash. From ships on the deep blue sea, to ships flying through the depths of space, and even visiting from beyond the veil, these cats are determined and on a mission.

Featuring thirteen “tails” of adventure-loving cats, puns, and fun by: Megan Fennell; S.G. Wong; Rebecca Brae; Grace Bridges; Lizz Donnelly; Blake Liddell; Frances Pauli; JB Riley; Joseph Halden; Leslie Van Zwol; Krista D. Ball; Chadwick Ginther; Rose Strickman; and Beth Cato.

Zelup by Lisa ProbzZelup by Lisa Probz:

Dawn

Who would have thought it? A one-night stand should have only been one night.

Then the hot guy shows up on my doorstep with a business proposal that stinks more than a Vanfian female in heat.

He’s hiding something. I just didn’t expect it to be an upcoming apocalypse.

I have no choice but to go all in, but the plan is to keep my heart protected from him.

Yeah right. My hormones are leading the way, and this guy isn’t going to let me slip from his grasp that easily.

Zelup

Life is just never easy, is it?

My older brother shacks up with the daughter of a goddess, and all of a sudden, our planet is pushed into an apocalypse.

And I’m forced to hunt down a mythical Guardian to aid us in the fight against the demon host that’s squared off to us.

What I don’t expect in my travels is to fall for a feisty scientist.

She sees through my crap and is hotter than Hades.

But I can’t afford to be distracted.

And yet, that’s exactly what I am. This Guardian can suck it. I’m more interested in convincing Dawn I’m her man, her protector.

Until the Crowned Prince of Hell gets her. His threat?

To erase me from her memory forever.

1910: Love Reaches Through Time by Georgina Rowe1910: Love Reaches Through Time by Georgina Rowe:

Rowena Cutler loves her job as a researcher, delving into the history of her beloved city of Sydney. After one marriage and several failed relationships, she has given up on men and romance, and believes she is happily in control of her life…until a paranormal experience turns her life upside down.

While reading an old newspaper article from 1910, Rowena is flung from the present into the distant past where she experiences the very event she was reading about. She latches onto an object from the past just as she is pulled back to her own time period, and is startled to discover the object has made the trip across time with her!

Shaken but determined, Rowena begins using her newfound gift to solve some century-old mysteries of Sydney. Her extraordinary paranormal adventures have barely begun, however, when she falls desperately in love with a man named Lionel who lived in 1910. Even though he is not fully aware of her presence because he cannot see her, Rowena knows she has finally found the man of her dreams. But if Rowena and Lionel are ever to be together, she realizes she must explore the full extent of her psychic powers, no matter how dangerous the consequences.

Wardtown by Glynn StewartWardtown by Glynn Stewart:

A young man’s anger and gun
An old man’s secrets and magic
A moment that binds them forever

Teer was forced into exile in the Spehari’s Eastern Territories after they betrayed his father’s memory, leaving him and his mother destitute. He has grown up on the ranch of his mother’s new husband, nursing the skills of a cowboy and the anger of a betrayed child.

When one of the demigod-like Spehari walks into his bar, Teer gives in to a pointless moment of anger—opening fire on one of the rulers of the Unity!

Sentenced to hang for his crime, Teer’s life hangs by the slimmest of threads: the mercy and secrets of the very immortal he tried to kill…

Sky of Water by Stacey L. TuckerSky of Water by Stacey L. Tucker:

This final installment of the Equal Night trilogy will put Skylar to her biggest test to date. After Magus takes her through the alchemical door in the Quine library, she quickly remembers her strange surroundings and the reason she’s been brought back to the First Age. Here, she will have to rely on her own magic to navigate the overlapping timelines that will allow her to rewrite history. But if she’s not careful, she could destroy it completely.

Back home, it will take every one of Skylar’s loved ones to execute Ocean’s plan, and Argan has the biggest role among them: the impossible task of retrieving Skylar home from the past. Luckily, it’s something he’s been training for his entire life.

Meanwhile, a woman now sits in the Oval Office, the corrupt scaffolding of the US government collapsing around her. Mica Noxx has a vision for the US, one that returns it to the original intention of the Founding Fathers.

With Skylar held in the First Age and Mica planted in current day, they have one shot to banish the darkness that’s held control for centuries, and return the United States to a trajectory toward its true destiny: becoming the New Atlantis.

Federation at War by James David VictorFederation at War by James David Victor:

An old war is about to undergo an alien transformation.

Alone in the galaxy, humanity has waged war against itself in the name of order and personal freedom. When a new alien threat arrives on their doorstep, they will have to face a reality most don’t believe. They are not alone amongst the stars. And worse, they are far from superior.

Federation At War is the first book in the Blue Star Marines series which follows a young man who will have to push his hatreds aside and come to the aid of all humanity.

Download Federation At War and see if humanity can overcome itself and survive in the vast darkness of space!

Felons in the Eyes of God by Stephen James WrightFelons in the Eyes of God by Stephen James Wright:

The planet Thyrhucis is prosperous and peaceful, governed by a collective of uploaded post-human intelligences called the Necrarchy. Thyrhucis is a nexus for interstellar travel, and governments from all over the galaxy are seeking access to its trade routes.

Christabel Cameron Carrington wants access for the Cultural Revival, a multi-system movement that’s bringing back old Earth cultures. She’s not above using underhand methods, including hacking the planetary data networks, which brings her into direct contact with the Necrarchy itself.

Rethis Veid wants access for the spartan world of Thur, a grim and expansionist state that’s considered suspect by everyone. He’s involving himself with dissident groups, whose concerns about the Necrarchy become disturbingly relevant.

Laura Sabon, light years away, knows nothing about this – her only concern is keeping her decrepit space freighter operational. But she’s drawn into the situation when her ship is chartered to take a cargo to Thyrhucis – a cargo which just might contain the end of interstellar civilization.

The Ninth Knight by Stephen James WrightThe Ninth Knight by Stephen James Wright:

Prosperous and middle-aged, Sir Gaveran yearns for knightly adventure and chivalrous deeds. He persuades seven other knights to meet with him – rich and powerful Garrien, upcoming knight-errant Perinell, poor but honest Calan, aesthetic Lyas, foreigner Rykon, masked and enigmatic Yvon, and ill-omened Alair. Gaveran persuades them all to join him in an oath, to seek adventure in the coming year….

But, as the eight knights swear on their swords, a ninth blade is laid across theirs – and the shadowy figure of the Ninth Knight follows each knight as they quest, observing them and, perhaps, judging them.

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