Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for March 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 February 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, historical fantasy, fantasy romance, paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, science fantasy, space opera, military science fiction, science fiction anthologies, science fiction romance, dystopian romance, dystopian fiction, historical horror, vampires, werewolves, elves, mages, superheroes, arranged marriages, alien artefacts, space marines, space pirates, kidnapped princesses, crime-busting witches, crime-busting skeletons, resurrected giants 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:

Reistance by Jay AspenResistance by Jay Aspen:

Would you risk everything for freedom?

Resource wars have wrecked most things from refineries to satellites. Danger stalks an uneasy peace.

It was the day Jac discovered how precarious her life had become.

Her love of nature and steadfast loyalty to her remote forest community no longer weaves the illusion of safety she has believed for so long. Driving damaged roads to a city she hasn’t seen for six years, Jac uncovers disturbing truths about the ruthless Avarit imperium controlling their lives.

And then… she has never met anyone like Raine, the mysterious and charismatic leader of the outlawed forest rangers. She offers her medic skills to the Resistance, caught between the Avarit military and the terrorist F2 gangs inflicting havoc on the city and Outlander families.

Maybe she will discover why her father was killed…

But would you risk everything for freedom?

Resistance is the first book in the Phoenix Enigma series, the dystopian romance epic from Jay Aspen.

Mage of Fools by Eugen BaconMage of Fools by Eugen Bacon:

In the dystopian world of Mafinga, Jasmin must contend with a dictator’s sorcerer to cleanse the socialist state of its deadly pollution.Mafinga’s malevolent king dislikes books and, together with his sorcerer Atari, has collapsed the environment to almost uninhabitable. The sun has killed all the able men, including Jasmin’s husband Godi. But Jasmin has Godi’s secret story machine that tells of a better world, far different from the wastelands of Mafinga. Jasmin’s crime for possessing the machine and its forbidden literature filled with subversive text is punishable by death. Fate grants a cruel reprieve in the service of a childless queen who claims Jasmin’s children as her own. Jasmin is powerless—until she discovers secrets behind the king and his sorcerer.

Causes of Death by K.T. BeltCauses of Death by K.T. Belt:

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The members of Space Force Fleet Command are renowned for their battle-hardened professionalism…except for one ship—the men and women who crew the ISS Griffin. Yet these misfits, screw-ups, and mutineers are Carmen Grey’s only hope at locating and destroying an alien research base concealed aboard a freighter deep behind enemy lines.

The Clairvoyant can fly and read minds, but even she can’t imagine the harrowing secrets contained aboard the freighter, which may be the key to stopping a menace poised to sweep across the entire galaxy. She has only a number of days to find the alien ship before it is lost forever.

When the situation grows desperate and when surrounded by enemies, sometimes the most dangerous adversary is the friend watching your back. The clock’s ticking.

The Tea Shop Witch by Thora BluestoneThe Tea Shop Witch by Thora Bluestone:

A disappearing body.
Hidden magical talents.
An adorable mind-reading dog.
And small-town secrets . . .

Addie James’s life imploded when she discovered her fiancé cheating and got downsized from her biotech job. So she left Silicon Valley for the haven of her Aunt Kate’s tea and apothecary shop in the peaceful mountain town of Stargaze. There, she plans to take a deep breath and figure out what’s next.

But when Addie reaches Stargaze, there’s no trace of her aunt. Until one night, Aunt Kate’s lifeless body shows up and then disappears from the locked shop.

And that’s when things really start to get strange.

As Addie sets out to find the murderer, she begins to realize her own hidden magical talent is the key to discovering what really happened to her aunt . . . who might not be quite so dead after all.

The problem is, logical Addie isn’t sure she can accept the magical parts of herself that science can’t explain. Will she learn to embrace this new life that’s full of supernatural surprises and solve her aunt’s case?

Hometown Magic by Amy BoylesHometown Magic by Amy Boyles:

There is a killer on the loose in Peachwood, and that person is targeting witches. Worse, there’s no rhyme or reason to the murders. Clementine and Rufus are at a loss as to how to find the killer.

They need help, and a lot of it. So the entire witch and wizard community of Peachwood bands together to help. Only, those folks tend to whine a lot and they’re not sure if Rufus can be trusted. With time running out, and more attacks occurring, Clem and Rufus are forced to rely on witches who can’t be trusted for help.

Will they solve the mystery? Or will Clem and Rufus be the next victims?

The Elf Tangent by Lindsay BurokerThe Elf Tangent by Lindsay Buroker:

As a princess in the impoverished kingdom of Delantria, it’s Aldari’s job to look pretty, speak little, and marry a prince.

Studying mathematics and writing papers on economic theory in an effort to fix her people’s financial woes? Her father has forbidden it. With war on the horizon, they must focus on the immediate threat.

Reluctantly, Aldari agrees to marry a prince in a neighboring kingdom to secure an alliance her people desperately need. All is going to plan until the handsome elven mercenary captain hired to guard her marriage caravan turns into her kidnapper. His people are in trouble, and he believes she has the knowledge to help.

But with an invasion force approaching Delantria, Aldari’s own people need her. She must do everything in her power to escape the elves and make it to her wedding in time.

Never mind that her kidnapper is witty, clever, and offers her a challenge that intrigues her mind even as his easy smile intrigues her heart…

Aldari can’t let herself develop feelings for him. To fall in love and walk away from her wedding would mean the end of her kingdom and everyone she cares about.

Throw Me a Bone by Rachel FordThrow Me a Bone by Rachel Ford:

I’m a magic-wielding Freak. My partner is a sentient skeleton. My fiancée is a broke lawyer. We’re Flint & Co Paranormal Investigations. And we’re going to change the world.

Being a Freak cost me my job with the police department, but that’s okay. My magic isn’t a curse, and I’m done running from it.

Which is good, because with my fiancée too busy saving the world one pro bono lawsuit at a time to take a case that actually pays and my partner losing his shirt on a Crypt Coin investment scam, it’s going to take some supernatural help just to keep the lights on.

Never mind track down the Southside Stalker, the notorious serial killer terrorizing New Boston and baffling law enforcement. Or the Pestilence, the mysterious vigilante targeting the undead. (Come on, universe! Throw a girl a bone, why don’t you?)

But, whatever: I’m ready. I can shoot fire from my freaking fingertips. I’ve got this.

I hope.

A Boy's Hammer by Alex GrassA Boy’s Hammer by Alex Grass:

20 years ago, Alan and his mother disappeared in a plane crash off the coast of Helsinki.

20 years later, a giant man with his whole body covered in tattoos appears amidst the rubble of an explosion at a Philadelphia oil refinery. He says that he’s Alan come back from the dead. Alan’s genius billionaire Aunt Mimi agrees.

And the first thing the reappeared giant has to do? Return to Helsinki, Finland.

All the while, strange happenings are underway in Philly:

A resurrected serial killer. Hidden (oc)cult conspiracies. Bizarre murders that defy the laws of space and time. Aunt Mimi in a miraculous trance state that grants her unseen visions of prophecy, and telekinetic powers.

The only person capable of unraveling this mystery? Detective Jefferson O’Brady, a dissolute alcoholic with a photographic memory…and absolutely no friends on the force.

Something’s going down in the City of Brotherly Love.

Tall Tales and Witchy Fails by Lily Harper HartTall Tales and Witchy Fails by Lily Harper Hart:

Splat.

That’s the sound Hali Waverly made when she hit the pavement after a drunken billionaire ran her over with his golf cart.

Cha-ching.

That’s the sound her bank account made when his handlers got him under control and swooped in to buy Hali off. The offer? Ownership of a tiki bar on the property of a busy resort and lodging in one of the villas on St. Pete Beach.

Now Hali is officially successful. That doesn’t mean her life is a beach of roses.

When private investigator Grayson “Gray” Hunter shows up asking questions about a missing woman, Hali is evasive. It’s not because she doesn’t want to help as much as she’s already running her own investigation with the help of her best friend, another witch, and a group of sirens who control the beach.

Gray and Hali lock horns as they continuously cross paths with one another, to the point where they agree to join forces … but only temporarily.

Evil is stalking the resort. Young women are going missing at every turn. It’s going to take a mixture of magic and might to save the day … and even that might not be enough.

St. Petersburg has a new crime-fighting team. Are they strong enough to survive the rising tide and take down a monster?

You’re about to find out.

Artifact by Joshua JamesArtifact by Joshua James:

FOR MILLIONS OF YEARS, SATURN HID AN ALIEN SECRET.
IN 2065, HUMANITY WILL FIND IT.

Lowell Carpenter is a disgraced Marine assigned to a remote US research station on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, where scientists have made an extraordinary discovery in the ocean below.

A special forces team, led by Lowell’s murderous former commanding officer, shows up to investigate. Almost immediately, everything begins to unravel.

Something beneath the surface has been activated.

Soon every space force on Earth — American, Chinese, Russian, and more — is converging on the tiny moon, ready to start a war.

But when a young archeologist with a knack for dead languages makes an amazing discovery of his own, Lowell realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could’ve imagined.

He soon has no choice but to disobey orders and fight soldiers he helped train as he races to stop an unimaginable chain reaction that threatens the entire solar system.

The countdown has begun…

Fang Deep in the Blues by Gaja K. RosFang Deep in the Blues by Gaja J. Kos:

Ever had a fucked up wolf prowling beneath your skin?

I don’t know what peace is anymore. The quiet that comes after a brutal, bloody fight, though…

I’ll take that.

The pain helps drown out the loss, even if it doesn’t last long enough.

Or gives me what I need most.

When a Leshy ambushes me one night with an offer to come work for the Interspecies Crimes and Relations Agency, I want to laugh in his face. What good could a packless, beaten-down werewolf be?

I’m good in a ring with next to zero rules, but, fuck, I’m not agent material. I’m not even functional.

Just my godsdamned luck that it looks like I’m about to be out of options.

With his magic infestation acting up, tapping into Agency’s resources might be the only way to save my brother.

And I want to. More than fucking anything.

I’m just not sure if I can save myself.

Phantom in the Pines of R.K. LatchPhantom in the Pines by R.K. Latch:

In 1933, Mississippi was in the throes of both the Great Depression and Prohibition. Dirt poor living was the way of life for most.

Some folks were forced to turn to any means possible to put food on the table. In Winchester County, the Lawtons turned to brewing moonshine to make ends meet. Though dangerous and illegal, their operation ran smoothly until John Kirkwood, a highly ambitious federal revenue agent, came to town.

Thanks to a dirty deal with a man with deep pockets, Kirkwood sees ridding Winchester County of its moonshiners as his way to fortune. Enlisting the aid of the corrupt local sheriff and a squad of bandits and goons, they launch a brutal rampage against local ‘shiners, piling up bodies along the way.

Henry Lawton works for his father in the family moonshining business. Henry also happens to be one of the best bootleggers around runs the dark country lanes delivering his daddy’s corn whiskey. At 19, he’s tough as nails and knows the backroads like the back of his hand.

Henry is also in love with a young woman. Iris is a beautiful, intelligent, artistic young woman that has captured Henry’s heart. Unfortunately, Iris is the granddaughter of Pearl Broussard, the woman the locals call the Witch of Winchester, which is a whole heap of trouble in itself. To make matters even worse, Henry is white. Iris is black. In 1930s Mississippi, such relationships are recipes for certain disaster.

When Kirkwood and his band of bandits strike close to home, seemingly wiping out the Lawtons in one horrendous night, it seems like all hope is lost. Pearl Broussard uses ancient magic known as the Arts Dark to summon a magical force known as the Spirit of the Trees with only one thing on its mind: vengeance.

The best weapon against the evil of man is the supernatural.

When the Spirit of the Trees walks free, evil runs in fear.

Sticks and Crones by Amanda M. LeeSticks and Crones by Amanda M. Lee:

When Scout Randall’s past came into focus, she thought the hard part was behind her. She was wrong.

Now, not only is she dealing with a day-walking vampire who has all the strengths and none of the weaknesses associated with his kind, but there’s also a new bloodsucker in town … and this one is out for revenge.

When she killed the last master, Scout assumed that was it. She didn’t count on him having a brother. That brother is intent on making her pay, and he’s not shy about dropping bodies in an attempt to rattle her along the way.

Scout has a sister she can’t trust, a former partner she’s trying to bring back to the world of the living, and a crew that’s often steeped in drama. When you add the Winchesters from Hemlock Cove into the mix, she has her hands full. A new vampire gang is the last thing she needs, especially when people start falling under glamours and making targets of themselves.

Scout has magic and might on her side but the fight she’s facing could force her to make a choice she never thought she would have to make.

Darkness is taking over Hawthorne Hollow. Vampires are gathering evil forces to take over the town.

The fight is on.

Rediscovery Volume 2, edited by Gideon MarcusRediscovery: Science Fiction by Women Vol. 2 (1953 – 1957), edited by Gideon Marcus:

Women write science fiction. They always have.

Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1953-1957) offers, quite simply, some of the best science fiction ever written: 20 amazing pieces, most of which haven’t been reprinted for decades…but should have been. Whether you are a long-time fan or new to the genre, you are in for a treat.

Dig in. Enjoy these newly-rediscovered delicacies a few at a time…or binge them all at once!

“Kudos to the editing team for going beyond the usual selections for the classic authors featured herein. Most of these stories were entirely new to me. An exemplary assortment of SF from half a century ago, this anthology should appeal to people familiar with the period and people unfamiliar with it wishing to gain familiarity.”
~James Davis Nicoll on Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958-1963)

The Assassins of Consequence by Marshall Ryan MarescaThe Assassins of Consequence by Marshall Ryan Maresca:

The autumn semester at the University of Maradaine is underway, and Veranix Calbert is doing his best to balance the new responsibilities of being a fourth-year magic student under the militant Altarn Initiatives, while still acting as The Thorn, the street vigilante deep in a personal war against the drug kingpin Willem Fenmere. With the help of his friends Kaiana, Delmin, and Mila, he’s been able to strike real blows against Fenmere’s empire.

But Veranix’s fight has earned him more enemies than just Fenmere, including the mad alchemist Cuse Jensett, the imposters Erno Don and Enzin Hence, and the Deadly Birds Magpie and Jackdaw. These five killers join forces to escape Quarrygate Prison and offer an alliance to Fenmere, bringing with them the perfect leverage to seal the deal: the Thorn’s identity.

Once Fenmere knows who Veranix is, he doesn’t just want to kill him, but to utterly shatter him. Calling on everyone in Maradaine holding a grudge against the Thorn, he unleashes a brutal hunt against Veranix. With old and new enemies all looking to claim the bounty on his head, stripped of the security of his secret identity, Veranix faces the most brutal fight of his all too-short life.

Shamrocked by Dakota RebelShamrocked by Dakota Rebel:

I didn’t even want to come back here. I was perfectly happy living a perfectly non-magical life out in the real world. And yet, here I am. Back in Fayshore, surrounded by every painful memory I’ve spent the last six years trying to escape.

To add insult to injury, I think I might have just bumped into my soul mate.

I’d sworn that if and when I ever did settle down with someone, it would be a man who was normal. A man who wouldn’t make me feel inferior the way my family had all my life.

Except Lachlan doesn’t make me feel inferior. In fact, his completely chaotic nature actually makes me feel seen in a way that I’ve never experienced before. In a way that’s making me question absolutely everything about myself and my outlook on life.

Is he magically delicious enough for me to change my tune?

Fireball Teen by Rose RoachFireball Teen by Rose Roach:

14 year old Levi lives on Florida’s space coast. When he was only 3, his father, a lead scientist in the space program, died in a lab accident.

The details of his mysterious death were covered up immediately…

Levi always felt different from others, and his obsessive thoughts complicate his life. But he’s smart, compassionate, and has normal teenage interests, like playing video games with his best friend.

One day, Levi buys an ancient, sacred book. Its words glow before his eyes and foretell events. Levi’s skin takes on the same glow; muscles he’s never had emerge.

He hides all this at first… but when the mysterious power overtakes him, the scrawny 14-year- old boy becomes a superhero takes down a gunman and a robber.

Under the scrutiny of the FBI and scientists his father knew, Levi is detained as a potential national security threat and isolated from his mother!

Can Levi figure out his powers?

Can he ever escape?

Hag of the Hills by J.T.T. RyderHag of the Hills by J.T.T. Ryder:

“Nothing is unconquerable; even our gods can die.”

Brennus is destined from birth to become a warrior, despite his farmer’s life. But when the Hillmen kill his family and annihilate his clan, he now has the opportunity to avenge those who he loved.

Brennus must survive endless hordes of invading Hillmen and magic-wielding sidhe, aided by only a band of shifty mercenaries, and an ancient bronze sword.

Failure means his family and clan go unavenged. Victory will bring glory to Brennus and his ancestors.

Hag of the Hills is a heroic fantasy novel set in 200 B.C. on the Isle of Skye, steeped in Celtic mythology and culture.

Lured by the Lion by Aurora SpringerLured by the Lion by Aurora Springer:

Space opera and second chance romance with a moody hero and pirates.

After the death of her ailing father, Jocelyn Navarre Yazzie is free to roam the galaxy in the Star Condor, the spacecraft she inherited from her deceased husband. She embarks on a trip to deliver her father’s bequest to her aunt on a rural planet outside the civilized sectors. A chance encounter with the crippled Leonardo Horlis changes her future. Leo Horlis suffers from a debilitating malady and expects to live for less than a year. Josie is strongly attracted to him, yet she cannot hope to compete with his beautiful dead wife, whose portrait dominates his house and his memories. Sympathizing with his grief and illness, Josie offers to transport him in Star Condor to the top medical center of the ultracivilized inner planets. Their attraction intensifies in the cramped quarters of her ship. But, Leo has a dangerous secret that threatens to terminate their voyage and their lives. Can Josie and Leo escape the perils and vanquish the ghosts of their past to find happiness together?

Beyond the Eyes of Mars by Glynn StewartBeyond the Eyes of Mars by Glynn Stewart:

Beyond the borders of the Protectorate
Beyond the eyes of the Royal Martian Navy
Beyond the reach of the Mage-Queen
Innocents cry out for help—and Mars will answer!

When the Royal Martian Navy moved against reports of piracy in the Fringe Systems, the last thing Mage-Commander Roslyn Chambers expected was to find was a malignant remnant of the defeated Republic of Faith and Reason.

Now the Royal Martian Navy knows their enemy and their Mage-Queen has charged them to bring the First Legion, conquerors of the hidden colonies beyond the Fringe, to justice. The Legion knows the RMN’s tricks, though, and has cleverly concealed their tracks.

As Chambers and the spy Kelly Lamonte sweep distant stars for the trail of their enemies, the fleets of Mars gather behind them—but the fate of millions may lie in the hands of a woman none of them have ever met.

A woman the Republic already killed.

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