Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for June 2023

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 May 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 epic fantasy, urban fantasy, cozy fantasy, fantasy romance, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, Cyberpunk, Steampunk, weird western, horror, dwarves, elf assassins, alien invasions, airships, banished sorceresses, murderous ghosts, living stars, haunted funhouses, celibate monster hunters, crime-busting witches, crime-busting ghosts 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:

A Funhouse of Nightmares by Robert L. AppletonA Funhouse of Nightmares: Twisted Tales for Trouble Grown-ups by Robert L. Appleton:

Step into a twisted realm where the lines between reality and the bizarre blur, and prepare to be captivated by “A Funhouse of Nightmares: Twisted Tales For Troubled Grown-ups.”

In this macabre anthology, five tales transport you to surreal landscapes of the mind, where the strange, supernatural, and occult intertwine with a touch of humor and absurdity.

In “Static,” a troubled young man discovers that the static on his radio holds prescient advice, leading him on a dark and unpredictable path. “Toad” introduces us to a lovely young woman possessed by the spirit of an Inca priest, as she plots to destroy her unfaithful spouse in a spine-chilling quest for vengeance.

Witness the fall and redemption of Beelzebub in “The Book of Fallen Angels,” a haunting exploration of divine rebellion and the pursuit of redemption. Prepare for a poignant tale in “Tears For Topsy,” where a circus clown makes a fateful exchange, sacrificing his soul for happiness in a world consumed by darkness.

Finally, embark on a mind-altering journey with “Mould,” as a hallucinogenic truffle transports a young woman into a mesmerizing realm inhabited by anthropomorphized woodland creatures.

These stories weave together elements of the supernatural, occult, and the absurd, delivering a captivating experience that oscillates between unease and laughter. Described as modern Kafkaesque, “A Funhouse of Nightmares” promises to entertain, thrill, and leave you questioning the boundaries of reality. Get ready for a rollercoaster ride through the bizarre and delightful, where nothing is quite as it seems, nor should it be…

The Measure of sorrow by J. Ashley-SmithThe Measure of Sorrow by J. Ashley-Smith:

Shirley Jackson Award-winning author J. Ashley-Smith’ s first collection, The Measure of Sorrow, draws together ten new and previously acclaimed stories of dark speculative fiction. In these pages a black reef holds the secret to an interminable coastal limbo; a father struggles to relate to his estranged children in a post-bushfire wilderness; an artist records her last days in conversation with her unborn child; a brother and sister are abandoned to the manifestations of their uncle’ s insanity; a suburban neighbourhood succumbs to an indescribable malaise; teenage ravers fall in with an eldritch crowd; a sensitive New Age guy commits a terminal act of passive-aggression; a plane crash opens the door to the Garden of Eden; the new boy in the village falls victim to a fatal ruse; and a husband’s unexpressed grief is embodied in the shadows of a crumbling country barn. Intelligent and emotionally complex, the stories in The Measure of Sorrow elude easy classification, lifting the veil on the wonder and horror of a world just out of true.

Wanted by Lindsay BurokerWanted by Lindsay Buroker:

Half-dwarven craftswoman, enchanter, and badass hammer-wielder Matti Puletasi has achieved most of her goals and even found the love of the handsome elf assassin Sarrlevi.

Unfortunately, there’s still a bounty on her head. That makes it hard to return to a normal life, start a family, or even visit the Coffee Dragon without being shot at.

Worse, one of Sarrlevi’s old elven lovers shows up, hinting of changes back home that mean his exile could be lifted and his nobility returned—if only he’ll dance to her tune.

Matti knows Sarrlevi loves her but worries he’ll be tempted. A chance to return home and be a hero instead of an outcast. Who wouldn’t long for that?

Seer of Epera by Christine CazalySeer of Epera by Christine Cazaly:

What will you give to save the future?

At the Court of Skies, Theda Eglion, Chief Librarian, is famed for three things.
Her acerbic tongue, her profound knowledge, and her beautiful, charismatic daughter, Briana.

Despite the status granted to members of the Blessed, Theda has a closely guarded secret.

She’s the Seer of Epera, blessed by her God with the gift of Farsight. Her role – to protect the nation’s magic and the Blessed population who wield it.

But when her daughter falls under the beguiling spell of an ambitious young courtier, Theda will need every ounce of her faith to ensure the future of magic.

Even if it costs her everything she holds most dear.

Rat and Demon by Chris FoxRat and Demon by Chris Fox:

The War Is Over. We Lost

The war in Hasra is over. A monstrous puppet sits upon the throne. Valys has fallen, and the Praetor rots in prison while his daughter remains a public hostage. Calmora is under Khonsu’s rule, the dragonflight’s plaything. Worse, my aunt and the other demon princes have fostered a new religion, which is sweeping the west.

Our only choice was to flee to Olivantia, where we huddle with the dreadlords who are under assault by the Tree of Blood and its armies of consumed. Things have never looked so grim. I have no more tombs. No more miracles from friendly gods.

Yet I do not stand alone. I’ve gathered my friends. We will prevail. We must. The cycle depends upon it.

Stargun Messenger by Darby HarnStargun Messenger by Darby Harn:

Astra Idari must keep the last living star alive in a galaxy lost to shadows.

Astra Idari is a mess. She drinks too much, remembers too little, and barely pays for it all as a Stargun Messenger. She hunts down thieves who steal filamentium, the fuel that allows for faster-than-light travel. When Idari meets Gen Emera, she meets the girl of her dreams and the last living star. There’s just one problem.

Filamentium is only found in the blood of living stars.

Once Idari knows the truth, she faces a stark choice. Either she turns Emera over to her employers who control the filamentium monopoly or risks everything to help Emera fulfill her quest to save her people. The choice should be simple, but it’s not losing her life that terrifies Idari. It’s finally living. Idari knows she’s human despite outwardly appearing to be an android with a failing memory stitched together by her ship’s irascible AI, CR-UX. She’s been just getting by for longer than she remembers, assured in her humanity, but not enough to risk it. If she does now, she may lose her life.

If she doesn’t, she may never live.

Poltergeist Rider by Lily Harper HartPoltergeist Rider by Lily Harper Hart:

Spring has hit Casper Creek. That means construction on Hannah Hickok’s future home with her fiancé Cooper Wyatt is finally commencing, and work on the new restaurant in town is getting close to completion. Everything should be perfect in her world.

There’s just one little problem.

A ghost from the past has decided to haunt the present…and he’s not a normal ghost. He’s riding a ghost horse. And, oh yeah, he’s firing a gun. Ghost bullets shouldn’t be a threat, and yet these bullets are killing people.

A scarf left at one of the scenes leads Hannah to look at the area’s bootlegger past. It seems there’s a cabin not far from Casper Creek, and their ghost might have originated from there. Where has he been for the past century, though? And, more importantly, why is he back?

As the bodies begin to stack up, Hannah begins to suspect they’ve got more than a murderous ghost on her hands. The human element of the equation is impossible to uncover, however.

Hannah is determined to find answers. She just needs a place to start looking.

It’s a fight to the finish, and ghost bullets aren’t the only thing Hannah and her friends need to worry about. There’s a new evil afoot…and this time, the gang might not be up to the challenge.

A Dance of Illusions by Savanah JamesA Dance of Illusion by Savanah James:

The Drakari call him their savior.

For 3,000 years, elven aristocrats have subjugated their hybrid counterparts, suppressing their magick and forcing them to live in the slums of great imperial cities.

Twins Vivani and Valyn Tyrea refuse to perpetuate this gory cycle. To destroy a tyrannical body, they know they must sever the head.

While born of noble, elven blood, something else surges through their veins, allowing them to hide in plain sight. Valyn is determined to conquer the empire through cunning and manipulation. Vivani longs to save her people. Together, they must combine their strengths if they hold any hope of survival.

When a rebel group of drakkin hybrids surge from the slums of the capital, Vivani and Valyn are introduced to Kraven Crausya who maintains connections to the rebel undergrounds. Through him, they learn of the Serpent of Civel… a legend to the hybrids and their proclaimed savior. He was thought to be long dead, but the whispers of the oppressed tell a different tale.

When facing the Drakari’s so-called savior, will Vivani find the peace she hopes for? Or will a shattered illusion cause her to choose between the life she has built and following her conscience?

Murder at the Pontchartrain by Kathleen KaskaMurder at the Pontchartrain by Kathleen Kaska:

I’m Sydney Lockhart. I solve murders, most of which I’m the primary suspect. My fiancée, Ralph Dixon, and I came to New Orleans to get married. Instead, he’s been arrested for a double murder, and I’m hunting for the real killer. Assisting me are a twelve-year-old voodoo queen, a ghost detective, and my crazy cousin Ruth. Wish me luck. I’ll need it.



The Alien Anomaly by Amanda M. LeeThe Alien Anomaly by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes has seen it all. Witches. Ghosts. The Chupacabra. Now she’s about to head down a different road … and it’s one she’s not prepared for.

When three bodies show up drained of fluids in Roswell, New Mexico, the Legacy Foundation is sent out to investigate. The assumption, because of where it happened, is aliens. Charlie isn’t so sure, though.

As the team leader, Chris is gung-ho to chase visitors from another planet. That means camping out at Bottomless Lakes Park, something nobody but Chris is keen to do. Between alien enthusiasts whooping it up at the far end of the park and Charlie’s belief that she’s being haunted by a ghost, the group has their hands full.

Roswell is a weird place. It’s also the sort of place where secrets can be hidden for a very long time. The caves beneath Bottomless Lakes run deep. There just might be a different sort of monster hiding there, however.

Charlie knows she has a big fight in front of her. This trip will help her get ready … as long as she survives the darkness that’s threatening to take over the area.

Charlie’s past ghosts are about to collide with her future dreams. The collision promises to be out of this world.

Unspeakable Horror 3: Dark Rainbow Rising, edited by Vince A LiagunoUnspeakable Horror 3: Dark Rainbow Rising, edited by Vince A. Liaguno:

The third terrifying volume in the award-winning anthology series of original queer horror.

Like the final girl in a slasher film, the LGBTQIA community knows first-hand what it’s like to fight for its survival. Beaten and bloodied after an extended chase scene through modern-day politics and the courts, we think we’ve triumphed and conquered our oppressors. We breathe a little easier knowing our rainbow is ascending in the distance. But—like the indestructible slasher villain—our enemies rise up again and again, as if on a looping third-act jump scare. It’s a seemingly never-ending return to battle as the pendulum of progress swings back.

In this third volume of the award-winning anthology series, the darkest minds from both the LGBT+ and horror literary communities join forces to bring readers an all-new collection of terrifying tales from that line on the horizon where the dark rainbow rises.

Stories by Chad Helder, Hailey Piper, Mathew L. Reyes, A.P. Thayer, J. Daniel Stone, Yah Yah Scholfield, Oliver Nash, Holly Lyn Walrath, Paul Tremblay, Carmilla Voiez, James Cato, Lucy A. Snyder, Maxwell I. Gold, Zachary Rosenberg, Matthew Blain-Hartung, Maryse Meijer, Vincent Kovar, CG Inglis, Craig Laurance Gidney, Dan Coxon, Kaitlin Tremblay, Michael Thomas Ford, Craig Brownlie, Amanda M. Blake, Sara Tantlinger, and Eric LaRocca. Edited by Vince A. Liaguno.

The Engineer's Apprentice by J.R. MartinThe Engineer’s Apprentice by J.R. Martin:

This alternate-history steampunk western contains action, adventure, magic, and a mystery that will change the Western Native Lands forever.

In 1860s Dallas, Texas, Annie Sakdavong has just graduated top of her class from college as a steam engineer but must still do an apprenticeship with a master steam engineer. No man is willing to take her, and she fears she may have to become a Sword Maiden for a merchant of her father’s choosing when she runs into an African man who wants an apprentice as much as she needs a master, Issa Obasi.

One of the premier steam engineers of the age, Issa wants to leave a legacy in the form of apprentices and the publication of groundbreaking research combining rune magic with steam power. These two sources of power are at odds with each other, but Issa sees there could be a better way to unite them.

Their world changes when a Native American from the Western Native Lands who can walk through walls comes to steal that research and destroy Issa’s laboratory during a fight. After seeking help from the police, Issa and Annie are left to fend for themselves when the police don’t want to help the black man and the Asian woman with the investigation.

Now, their adventure takes them to the Western Native Lands while death tolls rise and villains close in on Issa and Annie’s life and work. As they get closer to the truth, will they overcome dangerous enemies and their own self-doubts to win the day?

Sisters, Rivals, Monster Hunters by Caylen McQueenSisters, Rivals, Monster Hunters by Caylen McQueen:

Imagine 30 strapping young men, all stuck in a convent and all hopelessly pure. It sounds like Kathleen Laveau’s ultimate fantasy… until she crashes her airship in the middle of their sacred abode.

Kathleen and her sister, Cinnabar, find themselves stranded in a cursed land, where the dead rise from their graves, dragons swoop down from the sky, and metal monsters wreak havoc. But that’s not even the worst of it. The sisters soon realize the convent’s chastity is being strictly enforced by “The Grand Mother,” a fussy guardian who won’t let Kathleen anywhere near the innocent boys.

Undeterred, Kathleen takes matters into her own hands, flirting with as many boys as she can, much to the chagrin of “The Grand Mother.” In the middle of the flirtation fest, the sisters meet the rebellious pyromaniac, Wendall. In him, they might have gotten more than they bargained for.

Will Kathleen and Cinnabar survive the cursed land and the fires of the convent? Will they succumb to the boys’ innocent charms, or will “The Grand Mother” put an end to their shenanigans? Find out in this madcap steampunk adventure!

Forsaken Commander by G.J. OgdenForsaken Commander by G.L. Ogden:

Humanity’s only hope is the commander they spurned.

Once, Master Commander Carter Rose was the Union’s secret weapon. An augmented, bio-engineered officer in command of the most powerful warship ever devised by human minds, Rose brought them victory against the post-human Aternien Empire.

Then they cast him aside.

A century later, living alone on a distant forest moon, feared and forsaken by the people he fought to save, Rose has grown bitter and resentful, while his superhuman body refuses to age.

When Major Carina Larsen seeks his help to save Earth from becoming the last frontier of humanity, Rose is reluctant to return to duty. Until Larsen reveals the real peril: the Aterniens are on the rise again, hell-bent on revenge.

And after a century of peace, the Union has forgotten how to fight.

But even if Rose can recover his marooned warship and assemble a crew, his allegiance is now a valuable commodity — and a secret weapon is only ever as dangerous as those who wield it…

At the Winding Path's End by Stew Shearer and Carolyn SmithAt the Winding Path’s End by Stew Shearer and Carolyn Smith:

Curl up with fantasy poet Stew Shearer in this fully illustrated collection of cozy poems.

Poet Stew Shearer has written cozy fantasy poetry for years. Now, Wyngraf is proud to release a chapbook featuring the best of Stew’s work, including some brand-new, never-before-seen poems! Even better, every single poem features an original illustration by artist Carolyn Smith.

These twenty-four little celebrations of hearth and backpack are packed with beauty, humor, and heart.

Exile of the Wolf by Jessie SpragueExile of the Wolf by Jessie Sprague:

She’s a one man, one country type of sorceress.

Too bad she’s been banished from both.

Exiled from for aiding enemy nations, Ziza hasn’t seen Vaash—the man she loves and the heir to the Bouraster throne—in a year. She’s accepted that the only way home is to let the wasteland take her. But fate has other plans and instead of death, she finds the emerging nation of Slyke. Here Ziza encounters Iroguese, an evil spirit who seeks a way to reenter their world in the flesh. He offers her a deal that is too good to be true: Give him the body of Slyke’s ruler to inhabit and he will broker an alliance that can get Ziza home.

Meanwhile, Vaash is tasked with eradicating Slyke, the upstart nation on Bouraster’s borders. To prevent an uprising, he needs to show his people he’s strong enough to rule, but when he discovers Ziza sheltering with his enemies, he’s torn between his duty and his desire for the sorceress.

They must both choose whether to follow the paths laid out for them or to forge a new way… and either way they face the deadly consequences of their broken vows.

Absolution by Glynn StewartAbsolution by Glynn Stewart:

A homeworld is not always home.
Family is not always blood.
Enemies are not always who you expect.

Captain Evridiki “EB” Bardacki wants nothing more than to quietly ride off into the sunset with his fiancé, his crew, and his adopted daughter, Trace. But when a strange message brings them all to Trace’s home star system of Icem, it turns out the fragments of the crime syndicate that kidnapped her have one last trick to play.

An old enemy has betrayed their former compatriots and set into motion events that may allow EB to save hundreds of children like his daughter from the traffickers who stole them away. When that enemy shows up dead, the crew of Evasion must decide whether to chase the leads left by a dead monster or protect themselves.

Those leads will take EB and Trace into the dens of crime lords, the homes of judges, the hearts of secret bases—and the presence of the foster parent Trace ran away from at the beginning of everything…

Ruins of the Prime Ones by James David VictorRuins of the Prime Ones by James David Victor:

If you’re gonna save the galaxy, you might as well get paid for doing it.

Captain Melias Volery is a Sentinel, a warrior who travels the galaxy protecting those that can’t protect themselves. If they can afford to pay for his services. Whether you call them mercenaries or heroes, there’s no denying their effectiveness, but even these experienced warriors may be in over their head in the ruins of the Prime Ones. Can Melias and his crew unravel the secrets of this long lost race and save the galaxy from an ancient alien power trying to destroy the galaxy?

Ruins of the Prime Ones is the first book in the Sentinels series. If you like sci-fi adventures, space battles with complex alien invaders, and unexpected twists in humanities exploration of the stars, this could be your new favorite series.

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