Five of the biggest indie presses are banding together December 26th and 27th for a giant holiday book sale, with over 400 books priced at either $0.00 or $0.99, and each sale triggering a small donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. I have an interest in indie sci-fi/fantasy, and I have a family member who spent years as a patient at St. Jude’s, so it does without saying that this caught my attention. The sale includes a dizzying array of authors and books, with an SPFBO winner, an author I’ve read in a traditional publication, others that I’ve heard plenty about and quite a few that I’ve heard nothing about. I encourage you to scour the list for yourself, but I thought I’d highlight books that I had already read or was planning to buy myself.
I read this one before I started blogging, but the 2019 SPFBO winner is still my gold standard for self-published fantasy. Despite starting as a coming-of-age tale in a secondary world Japan analogue, it grows into a stunning tale of motherhood, regret, and the aftermath of tragedy. It’s a slow build that may take persistence early, but the payoff is more than worth it.
I read this one in late 2020, and I was immediately taken in by the snarky thief chafing against his murder and posthumous enslavement. I haven’t finished the trilogy yet, although I’ve already bought the omnibus, but the opener is well-written and entertaining–and dark without resorting to sexual violence to prove it. There are a lot of threads yet to come together, but I’m looking forward to them doing so.
Raymond St. Elmo has a style, and I’m not sure it lends itself to the most cohesive narratives, but it’s a lot of fun to read. This one is a present-day story with a magical realism flair and is a story I quite enjoyed when I read it a year ago.
Another St. Elmo, albeit one I read before I started blogging. This has what seems like an epic fantasy plot but told in a style inspired by magical realism, with a main character prone to constant tangents and digressions. Also it’s kinda a fantasy romance? I’m two books into the Quest of the Five Clans series, and it’s a lot of fun.
I’ve read The Path of Flames, which opens The Chronicles of the Black Gate, and while I wasn’t always sold on the characterization, the story is well-paced and constantly engaging, and the entire setup of a world where the very metaphysics are probably a lie perpetrated by the people in power is absolutely fascinating.
The Thirteenth Hour is a relatively new release, and it hasn’t gotten much buzz yet, but every single review seems to be absolutely glowing. A few cite a slow start, but I’ve seen it mentioned on social media a few times now, and people seem to be impressed. It’s enough to intrigue me for sure, and I plan to buy it this year.
r/Fantasy’s 2021 Bingo Challenge has a Gothic Fantasy square, and the author of Lady Vago’s Malediction has spent the last several months reviewing and increasingly long series of Gothic fantasy. It’s been fun to be exposed to books that might not have been on my radar before, but I’ve also heard enough about their own work to be intrigued. I plan on picking up this story, about a banshee seeking to learn her backstory.
I haven’t read this yet, but I picked it up in last year’s sale, and I’ve heard that the 2017 SPFBO runner-up is a great choice for fans of epic fantasy.