Fantasy Friday with Wyrd and Wonder – Off The Beaten Track
Welcome to Fantasy Friday!
We decided that we’d take the challenge a step further on Fridays, and post about the prompts in a little more detail.
This week, the prompt is Off the Beaten Track – we’re focusing on independent or small press fantasy reads!
Check the links below for more Fantasy Fridays:
This will be our last Fantasy Friday! A huge thank you to all involved for another excellent Wyrd and Wonder.
Underlined book titles in bold contain links to reviews on this site.
I would choose Queens of the Wyrd by Timandra Whitecastle, who lives in Germany. I thoroughly enjoyed that book, it’s female centred, Norse mythology based, action packed and just a lot of fun. Who doesn’t want a story about adventuring mums WHO DON’T DIE?!
For a UK author I’d choose Code of the Communer by Kai Greenwood. I loved this book so much, it’s an immersive epic fantasy with a Tolkien-esque feel to the world building, and the prose is so atmospheric. I really need to get started on reading an early copy of the sequel, The Quietening.
Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso is fabulous urban fantasy by a Finnish author from small publisher Louise Walters Books. Clever mystery, a great take on a magical community within London, and the best chronic pain rep I’ve ever read!
And The Lord of Stariel by AJ Lancaster (NZ based) is a self-published alt-history-ish fantasy of manners with a magical country house, tangled family dynamics, and a pinch of romance – exactly the kind of cosy read I love!
I’ve been very fortunate to work with some brilliant self-published authors, and to have found some wonderful books through SPFBO.
Liam Perrin’s Sir Thomas books are Arthurian legend retellings that focus on the knights of Camelot who were rather further down the payroll. They are full of heart, underdogs, and exactly the kind of smart humour I love.
Suzannah Rowntree’s A Wind From The Wilderness was our finalist for SPFBO 6, chosen from a group of very strong semi-finalists! It’s an alternative history set during the time of crusades, and Rowntree’s expert portrayal of the Middle East was so believable!
There’s a great online community for self-published titles at the moment, and they’re really holding their own in that old Self Pub Vs Trad battle. But I feel small presses have fallen by the wayside somewhat, which is such a shame considering the incredible stories and talent that’s out there!
The Year of the Knife by our very own G. D. Penman is published by Meerkat Press, and is a murder mystery with a distinct noir feel to it, set in a version of our world whose timeline has been altered somewhat by the existence of magic and mages and witches and demons… Sully, our main character, has snark for days and I love her. Excellent LGBTQA+ representation.
Shona Kinsella’s The Flame and the Flood, published by Fox Spirit books, is a novella set in a secondary world. Our protagonists are non-binary magic wielders who run a covert operation smuggling other magic wielders out of their city, where people are pressed into slavery in factories. Kinsella packs so much emotion, jeopardy, and outright imagination between these pages!
We are lucky to have such fantastic small presses doing amazing work in the genre. Everything Unsung Stories has put out has been to a consistently high standard. In terms of Fantasy, Threading The Labyrinth by Tiffani Angus is a wonderful fantasy tale about the magic of one Hertfordshire garden across time and space.
Luna Press Publishing also do incredible work. Club Ded by Nikhil Singh is a fascinating, complex post-cyberpunk exploration of media, drugs and reality set in a vividly realised Cape Town.
Solaris/Rebellion also put out a wide range of fascinating and vital Fantasy voices. They published and recently reissued E. J. Swift’s Paris Adrift, a gorgeous tale about time travel and finding oneself in Paris.
Angry Robot have been doing striking work for a while now, giving us Jeff Noon’s recent Nyquist books, starting with A Man Of Shadows, and Kameron Hurley’s ground-breaking Mirror Empire.
Dead Ink publish a lot of interesting books that sit on the boundary between genres, such as Gary Budden’s wonderful latest linked short story collection London Incognita, which captures a London full of secret horrors and fantasies, where dream, hallucination and reality overlap.
I already mentioned Honford Star last week in my translations roundup, but it’s worth reiterating how exciting their branching out into genre fiction is.
Tachyon Publications also put out an impressive range of work, including essential works like Unholy Land and Central Station by Lavie Tidhar.
Between them, these publishers have put out much of my favourite work over the past ten or so years of genre fiction publishing.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Fantasy Friday posts!