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, historical fantasy, gaslamp fantasy, paranormal mystery, fantasy romance, science fiction romance, science fiction thriller, space opera, military science fiction, near future science fiction, YA science fiction, dystopian fiction, solarpunk, hopepunk, steampunk, Greco-Roman mythology, vampires, dwarves, elves, ghosts, space marines, space pirates, space prisons, blood matches, crime-busting witches, vengeful goddesses 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:
Nexus of Chaos by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. Chaney:
When humanity joins the cause, the war with the Naxli begins to tilt in the favor of the allied races.
The Naxli have other ideas, though, and they launch a full-out blitz against the upstart humans. If they succeed, humanity’s very existence is at stake.
Gunnery Sergeant Reverent Pelletier and the First Human Expeditionary Brigade not only have to survived the onslaught but figure out a way to end the war, once and for all.
Join Rev, Tomiko, Randigold, and the rest as they fight not only the Naxli, but a growing distrust of the IBHU Marines and other hyperaugments.
Matti would prefer never to see her vindictive dwarven aunt ever again. All she wants is to find her missing parents.
But her aunt is extorting the elven assassin, Sarrlevi. That would be problematic on its own, but he’s become Matti’s biggest ally and the man—the elf—she’s falling in love with.
To save her family, Matti must find a way to help Sarrlevi before he strikes the most devastating blow of all.
Horse Lattitudes by Rachel Ford:
Sometimes, silence is just the quiet before the storm.
When the Black Flag crew is assigned to transport a young Union ambassador on his first diplomatic mission, they’re promised a few weeks of quiet downtime. Easy money.
What they find is a diplomatic quagmire. On one side is an untrusting, desperate, and dying world willing to do anything to anyone in order to secure their own survival. On the other is their thriving neighbor: equally desperate, but for entirely different reasons.
And dead in the water, the Black Flag readies to weather the coming storm – weather it, or be swept away in its fury.
A Desert of Living Death
Four centuries ago the Stewards rained ash on the heartland of an empire for a year and a day, murdering the Elentian Empire and orphaning the Hasran Imperium where I was born.
The stories say the ash drains magic and that any who venture into the Ashlands will need to contend with the armies of unliving swimming beneath the ash. Unliving as old as the Mad Imperator Jhordil himself.
My final tomb lays somewhere out in that terrible ocean of soot. Before I can help Li or settle the Hasran civil war I need to find it. I need to understand who and what I am if I am ever to fight my aunt or the demon princes she no doubt controls.
I will sail into those uncharted lands, and I will prevail. I have to. The cycle depends on it.
What could be worse than an arranged marriage to a vampire prince?
When Luna is sold into marriage to the Prince of Darkness on her twenty-first birthday, she thinks she knows what to expect. Arranged marriages happen all the time, right? Wrong. No one could have prepared her for the reality of being married to the vampire prince.
Ever since the day he was Made, Sebastian has been living according to Queen Marguerite’s rules. After all, he’s only alive because of her. When she orders him to marry and Bind himself to Luna, a human hailing a neighboring kingdom, he has no choice. He agrees to the marriage but never expects to feel anything for her.
When their Binding Ceremony goes awry, and they are magically Tethered, everything is thrown into upheaval. Unable to leave each other’s presence, they must learn to live with each other. Or die.
Oracle of Life by Katherine D. Graham:
Six fallen lords. Three vengeful goddesses. And one mortal, damned to prophesy for them all.
An Exiled Oracle
Nariah, the Heiress of Ellonai, is dead. An exiled, desert-dwelling Doomsayer is all that remains within the shell of the powerful princess she once was.
She isn’t sure which of her visions her people hate more: the one where the three benevolent goddesses they serve have decided to destroy the world, or the vision of six lords falling from the skies to save them.
The World’s Only Hope
Stumbling across the very lords she’s been seeing in her visions for years, only Nariah’s accursed gift of Sight can aid the lords in their rebellion against the goddesses, and determine the fate of her world before it’s turned to ash.
But does she even want to save those who’ve wronged her?
Storm of Magic by Kyra Halland:
After losing everything else, they found each other.
Now Leshi and Esavas are ready to begin their new life together in Yevoruta, the city of the mages. But the battles of the past raised more questions than they answered, questions that themselves must be answered if Esavas and Leshi are to lay the ghosts of the past to rest and find peace in their new life.
But beneath the mannered, elegant surface of mage society lies treachery, and the search for those answers could cost Leshi and Esavas everything as they face the difficult – and heart-wrenching – challenge of stopping the evil that threatens to consume the life of their beloved Islands.
Storm of Magic is the epic conclusion of Mage of Storm and Sea.
New Ghosts, Old Tricks by Lily Harper Hart:
Harper Harlow-Monroe has everything she’s ever wanted. She has a husband she loves, a best friend who is only irritating fifty percent of the time, and a daughter who refuses to be “normal.” So, basically, she has it all.
Then the unthinkable happens. During an afternoon picnic with her husband and daughter, Harper’s yard is flooded with ghosts … right as five bodies float by on the river. Harper’s daughter Poe is finally in the thick of things because she’s the only one who can communicate with the ghostly newcomers.
Worried, Harper calls in her friends Rowan, Maddie, and Ivy. Together, the foursome is going to figure out what’s haunting Poe … one way or another.
There’s not much to be found regarding the victims. They were adventurers, making a name for themselves finding treasure at the bottoms of oceans and lakes. They were hired by a local billionaire, but nobody can figure out why and the man in question is being cagey.
Harper always knew her daughter would turn out gifted. The reality is different from the fantasy, however. Poe’s magic is already strong, and when she gets a little encouragement from her friends, things begin to spiral.
It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation for this battle, and only the strong will survive.
Hierarchy of Blood by Jennifer Haskin:
The winner will be crowned Ambassador’s Bride. The losers will meet certain death.
When you’re living inside a dwarf planet in the cold abyss of space, life is only easy if you’re rich. 17-year-old Marishel Vance works as a seamstress – but when she’s selected to compete in a brutal contest for the Ambassador’s hand in marriage, she’s quickly catapulted into a life-threatening struggle.
Marishel hates the idea of fighting for some stuck-up rich guy – no matter how handsome he is. But after her attempts to escape are thwarted, she becomes desperate to find a way to end the Blood Match and save the lives of the girls she’s training with. The key could lie in Ambassador Quin himself … but as she tries to win his friendship, her growing feelings for him only complicate the matter.
As the Blood Match looms closer, Marishel spirals deeper into a world of intrigue, danger, punishment, and secrets. Trusting the wrong people means game over. If Marishel wants to save herself – and the other fifty-nine girls sentenced to death – she’ll have to break every rule in the book to do it…
Half Empty Half Full by John Hundley:
An interstellar war is brewing. A monster guards the key to power. Can a reluctant hero overcome an ancient evil to forestall a galactic apocalypse?
Clifford Crane hates having been labeled a hero. Centuries of experience has taught the legendary shifter that standing in the limelight only illuminates the target on his back. Desperate to stay safe and under the radar, he is demoralized to find the SS Huey on a mission that puts him in the crosshairs of the powerful corporation whose plans to build an army of cyborgs he just thwarted. THE Corporation wants revenge, and it has the resources and firepower to exact it.
Branded a terrorist, and his ship a pirate vessel, Crane plots a secret route through an armed blockade to the planet Kier, where the discovery of a rare metal could shift the galactic balance of power. With all previous attempts at mining meronium ending in the gruesome deaths of every miner involved, and the locals revealing to him the nature of what guards the mines, Crane confronts the dread realization that he alone must face the monster.
Can Clifford Crane and the SS Huey run the gauntlet of battle cruisers, overcome the ancient evil that guards the mines, and tip the galactic balance of power in their favor? Or will they find themselves caught in the middle of an apocalyptic interstellar war?
A Shadow Melody by Brian Kaufman:
In the early 1900s, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Harry Browning each researched devices to contact the dead through scientific means. Only one of them succeeded.
Harry Browning is a prodigy with an extraordinary understanding of the natural sciences. Orphaned as a child, he becomes a beloved professor, a war hero… and a shell shock victim.
At war’s end, he returns to his college hometown in Ohio and dedicates himself to research. Alone and isolated, he hires Elizabeth Rose, a young housekeeper with secrets. Together, they will seek to answer the one question that all humanity shares—what becomes of us after we pass beyond the veil?
They may not like the answer.
The Last Resort by Michael Kaufman:
It’s March 2034, six months after D.C. police detective Jen Lu and Chandler, her sentient bio-computer and wannabe tough guy implanted in her brain, cracked the mystery of Eden. The climate crisis is hitting harder than ever: a mega-hurricane has devastated the eco-system and waves of refugees pour into Washington, D.C.
Environmental lawyer and media darling Patty Garcia dies in a bizarre accident on a golf course. Of the seven billion people on the planet, only Jen thinks she was murdered. After all, Garcia just won a court case for massive climate change reparations to be paid out by oil, gas, and coal companies. Jen is warned off, but she and Chandler start digging. Signs point to Garcia’s abusive ex, a former oil giant, but soon Jen turns up more suspects who have an even greater motive for committing murder
Soon Jen is in the crosshairs of those who will ensure the truth never comes to light, no matter the cost. She has to move quickly before she becomes next on the killer’s list.
Amber Grace has spent countless lives preparing for battle, but her time has finally run out. She’s mortal now and can only hope that her enemy is close. That when the monster comes to devour them all, she’ll still be alive and able to offer herself instead.
All Amber has to do is keep herself safe, but one thing the Universe never guarantees is safety. Forced from hiding and trapped on the Rim with the criminal scum of every interstellar species, Amber finds herself truly living in a way she hasn’t for millennia. Suddenly her choices are more than equations and the potential of billions killed must be balanced against protecting the people close to her.
When the ice takes your friends and then comes for you, what do you do?
Beach Blanket Wendigo by Amanda M. Lee:
Moonstone Bay is in an uproar. The DDA is on the run, but they’re not going down without a fight. While all that’s going on, Hadley Hunter is practicing her magic. She managed to join with her elemental friends for a huge wins—and feels that’s important for the DDA fight—but she needs practice.
Nothing is perfect, however.
When a tourist is found dead on the beach one night after hearing a series of eerie howls, Hadley and her boyfriend Galen Blackwood think they have a new mystery to solve. The problem is, all signs point to a wendigo … which shouldn’t be possible on Moonstone Bay.
Things become even more convoluted when the victim’s movements on the night of her death lead them to a local. He denies killing her, but something is clearly amiss.
There’s a wendigo, a rogue DDA faction, and a plane door that just won’t stay closed.
Hadley has a lot on her plate. Nothing is going to stop her from doing what needs to be done, however. She’s ready to fight … even if that fight might kill her.
Hadley’s friends are determined to help, but as usual, she’s at the center of things. Moonstone Bay is caught in a shift of unbelievable proportions, but only one faction can come out on top.
There’s a battle coming, and when the truth comes out, everybody will be rocked.
Buckle up, because this ride is going to be bumpy.
The Bloodstained Shade by Cass Morris:
In the third book of the Aven Cycle, a trio of sisters and an ambitious senator use charm, wit, and magic to protect their city from ruin.
Latona of the Vitelliae, mage of Spirit and Fire, lies still as death. Her fate rests in the hands of her allies, who must redeem her soul from the churning void where Corinna, leader of a banished Discordian cult, has trapped it.
Protected by a cabal of corrupt priests and politicians, Corinna plans her most daring assault yet: a ritual striking at the ancient heart of Aven, with the power to swallow the city in a maw of chaos and strife. Her success would be Aven’s doom, and the greatest violence would fall upon the most vulnerable.
Before Sempronius Tarren can join Aven’s defense-and his beloved Latona-at home, he must end the war abroad, outwitting the blood-soaked machinations of his Iberian opponents. His own magical talents remain hidden, but dire circumstances tempt him to succumb to ambition and use forbidden tactics to hasten the way to victory.
To defeat Corinna, Aven’s devoted protectors will need to perform extraordinary magic, rally support from unexpected quarters, and face the shadows on their own souls.
Nautilus Rising by Ernesto R. Sanchez:
Far from Earth, PhD candidate Arixa Nez must solve a disturbing conspiracy while the largest spaceship in history is about to embark on its maiden voyage. The Nautilus, the greatest spaceship ever created in human history, is finally complete. Its mission is to travel through a mysterious wormhole found decades earlier. Before long, Arixa becomes the unlikely person able to prevent the greatest terrorist act in the solar system.
Can Arixa stop the conspiracy before time runs out?
Nautilus Rising is the prequel novella to the Far Side Chronicles.
Seth thought he had his life all planned out. After retiring from the Marines, he sought a career in the private sector. Moving up the corporate ladder proved harder than he thought, and when he suddenly loses his job, he wonders if he might be wasting his life.
Until a car accident changes it forever. Finding himself marooned on an alien prison planet, he must team up with a rebel in order to survive. But the environment isn’t the only hazard to overcome with bloodthirsty genetic anomalies and dangerous inmates on the prowl. It seems the only way to survive is to escape the planet, if he can find the necessary allies and equipment to achieve the impossible.
For no one’s escaped Lakon Prison before. But then, they never tried to cage a Marine.
Orfeus the hunter is searching for redemption in the wake of destruction…
Orfeus has always loved grand gestures. And what could be grander than risking her life to gain entry to the fabled Cloud Forest to find one of humanity’s greatest losses and make a gift of it to her beloved? But the cost proves higher than she could have ever imagined and now she is on the run, navigating a whole new world of danger with few allies and even fewer friends. Arcon, the Cloud Forest’s mechanized guardian, is determined to track her down, even if it means destroying everything in their way. Even if it means convincing Jean, a traumatized young trans man escaping a cult, to host them in order to complete their mission. Can Orfeus figure out a way out of the mess that she’s created and work with the Order of the Vengeful Wild and their allies to fix what she’s broken before their world is pushed once more to the brink?
The Tale of the Border Knight by A.R. Witham:
They say the Noble Seven came from the Waste.
They say the knights arrived from the desert gleaming in silver mail, shimmering bright as the sun, a refraction of every color under God’s sky. They were honor, righteousness, and courage made flesh. Some claim they came from beyond, angels sent to stand against damons. Some say.
If you want to know the truth, I will tell you.