Today, as I help celebrate the release of The Seventh Magpie, I bring you my Top Five Favorite Indie Fantasy Reads. Caveat: I haven’t read The Seventh Magpie yet, so it might edge out one of the contenders below. It sounds like a fantastic read, and the excerpt I did get the chance to read was definitely intriguing. You can find out more about The Seventh Magpie at the bottom of this post… and you can also check out the Facebook Event for neat stuff going on all week long. Today, I’m offering a giveaway as well. What could you win? …An e-book copy of the indie fantasy read you most want to read next! So definitely scroll down!
My Top Five Indie Fantasy Reads
(In no particular order, because, are you kidding me? I cannot possibly choose a number one.)
The Touchstone Trilogy by Andrea K. Host
First book free on Amazon.
I usually find diary-style books somewhat underwhelming, but it worked fantastically in this sci-fi / fantasy / psychic space-ninja story. Can I say that again? Psychic space-ninja story.
What I loved: first, there were so many commentaries layered into this story. On the surface, you have an intriguing story of an Aussie high school girl who walks through a wormhole on her way home from her final exams, ends up on an abandoned world and struggles to survive, only to be rescued by psychic space-ninjas (yay! I got to say it again!) … who are totally irritated to have found her. Oh I loved that. She’s processed as a “stray” and starts trying to find her way in a far-advanced technological world, until an accident proves she isn’t without her own psychic abilities… and promptly gets reacquired by the military. And here’s where all those interesting issues begin surfacing: what does it mean to be human? What rights should a foreigner have under military purview? Just how do you treat someone who has trouble learning your language–are they, perhaps, just dumb? Or hard of hearing? … and on and on. But don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a heavy read. It’s fast and enjoyable and the questions and issues raised are dealt with using a touch of humor and left for the reader to think about (or not).
The pacing might feel slow here and there, but the narrator’s sense of humor and character will pull you along. The only drawback is the immense cast of secondary characters–I sometimes wish that about half were left unnamed because it was a struggle to remember who was who on occasion. But there’s a list of characters at the back, which should help anyone who hates that sort of confusion. I found the final climax in the third book to be a slightly disappointing, but there were some fantastic moments just before it, and clearly I still loved the trilogy.
The Pygmy Dragon by Marc Secchia
Totally worth the $2.99 price tag on Amazon.
I wasn’t sure what I’d think of this book when I first picked it up, but the fact that I was sneaking time away from my toddler and preschooler to get in a few more pages (screens? How do you say that for a Kindle?) pretty much says it all. I almost never manage daytime reading. The Pygmy Dragon follows the story of Pip (she has an ultra-cool long warrior name, but that’s what she goes by for short), a Pygmy girl who is enslaved and taken to… a zoo. Okay, I just want to send Marc Secchia a virtual high five right now. This book is about a person of color, a girl coming of age, someone whose humanity is routinely and disgustingly denied them, and she has to deal with short people jokes too. And you know what? Pip is awesome. She has her low moments, but she’s resilient, intelligent, and full of heart. And you keep rooting for her, even more so when you see both her courage and her vulnerability.
The story follows Pip’s life at the zoo for a little while, enough so you get a sense of what it was like, how humiliation and de-humanizing a person can break them down, and the hope Pip experienced when a single person begins to interact with her as a human, and then… dragons. Yes! The book just takes off from there, so stick with the story. A whole new plot of dragon intrigue, shapeshifters, and shadowy danger unfolds once the dragons make an entry and whisk Pip away from the zoo…
Note that the prologue is written in first person, and the remainder in third person, which I think works much better. So go give this book a try!
The Cats Eye Chronicles by T. L. Shreffler
Get the first book free on Amazon.
About to be put on display to attract a suitor (i.e. the highest bidder), Sora decides to run away directly after her dance performance. Unfortunately for her, she’s not the only one planning something: an assassin crashes the performance and kills her father. Fleeing in the ensuing chaos, Sora manages to escape the party, only to run into (quite literally) the assassin. Since he can’t afford for her to blow his cover, he takes her with him. And things go from bad to worse. Including finding out she’s psychically bound to the necklace her mother left her, a Cat’s Eye with the power to eat magic…something the assassin could definitely use.
Sora’s Quest is a fast-paced adventure story about a naive but strong-willed heroine who intends to set out into the world, only to have the world set upon her. As the series progresses, Sora learns more about herself and the powers in flux in her world, escapes and then takes on a pretty freaky blood mage, and develops a slow-building romance that has absolutely no love triangle in sight. What is there not to enjoy?
The Fanged Princess Series by Elisabeth Wheatley
Hey! The first installment in this series is free on Amazon too!
A twist on your average paranormal love story, this series is a keeper. Yes, there’s a vampire-human love story–in fact, there’s even one in the past. But the love that makes our main character, Haddie, tick, and pushes her to make the decisions she does, is a strong, healthy sibling love. What a breath of fresh air! Haddie is an awesome main character in her own right: smart, snarky, brave and loyal to a fault, she’ll mouth off at the guy holding a gun on her because, well, that’s better than showing her fear.
Both novellas in this series are a quick read with a tight storyline and some good twists. I highly recommend Fanged Princess to fantasy and paranormal fans…and for folks who like a touch of romance for the heroine as well, there’s hope here (and that’s all I’ll say for fear of spoilers). I’m definitely looking forward to the next installments!
The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker
And here we are again–first book free on Amazon.
So this is the one book on this list that isn’t technically Young Adult. The characters vary in age, but the only one who is all that young is Sespian, the emperor in question. And while I don’t remember very well, I think he might be more new adult than young. At any rate, this is a fun, fast-paced, and intriguing fantasy steampunk series. Amaranthe, the heroine, is intelligent, resourceful, and has an incredible aptitude for finding a (seemingly impossible) way out of some pretty serious situations.
While I haven’t read all the books that are out yet, this is definitely a series I’d like to follow. It isn’t going to make you think deep thoughts, but sometimes you just need a good adventure. And you’ll get one with this book–lots of twists and turns, very unique cast of characters, and just the right dose of humor and irony.
And that’s my top five favorite indie fantasy series! I would love to hear about some of your favorite reads–leave me a comment and tell me what I need to add to my TBR list! And, keep scrolling down for a chance to win… An e-book copy of the indie fantasy read you most want to read next!
And now, a little bit about the star of the show, this week’s new release…
Sometimes you must give up what you value most to gain what you want even more.
Princess Catrin is just a child when her mother vanishes, leaving her a cryptic legacy: a priceless magical book and the warning that if Catrin ever loses it, she’ll surely die. But she is a young woman on the brink of a whole new life when, in a moment of defiance, she forgets that warning and triggers a catastrophe that shatters all her hopes.
Stricken with grief and seeking a way to correct her terrible mistake, Catrin risks everything on a dangerous bargain. Too late, she realizes just how much more she has to lose.
With advice from a half-mad witch and help from companions she meets along the way, Catrin embarks on a desperate quest to defeat seven riddling Magpies—magical tricksters who can shapeshift into anything or anyone—and win back her book or face losing everything she holds dear.
With each step the stakes get higher, and there are secrets she still doesn’t suspect. How much is Catrin willing to sacrifice to finally unmask the Seventh Magpie?
And now… a Rafflecopter giveaway