Indie Books Worth Reading

I'm an indie writer, and a reader of indie fiction (mostly fantasy and science fiction). So I'm well aware of the wild-west reputation that indie fiction has.

Deservedly so, in many cases. The thing about publishing being easy is that you get a lot of crap published. But then, Sturgeon's Law states that 90% of everything is crap, and that's true of traditionally-published books too (they're just a bit more... processed).

Here's my list of indie-published novels that I have personally read and think are worth reading. (I've read a bunch of crap too, so you don't have to.) I've given these books four or five stars on Goodreads, and I'm a harsh reviewer. Not all of them are without editing flaws, or other flaws, for that matter, but they have other virtues that, in my opinion, make up for those flaws. (Also, I'm a kind of quantum observer of the editing of indie books: I send the authors lists of edits, and most of them get back to me very quickly and say they've fixed them, so my review often alters the thing reviewed.)

Many of these are also available on as free audiobooks in podcast format (usually read by the author). I've linked them accordingly. In most cases, where there's a Podiobooks link that's how I consumed the book, so I can't comment on how well edited the ebook version is. I can tell you, though, that I enjoyed the story.

The links to Amazon and Smashwords are not affiliate links. My motivation here is to connect readers to books I think are good, and support indie authors.

Tip: The genre tags are also links. If you click a genre, it will reload the page, filtered just to the entries tagged with that genre.

If you find this list useful, and want to be notified when books are added, sign up using the form in the sidebar and I'll email you whenever I find a new indie book I recommend.

AuthorTitleGenre RatedLinksComments
A.E. MarlingBrood of Bones fantasy, secondary-world **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonEnchantress with a sleep disorder must defend her city from several natural and supernatural threats, including one that unfolds as a horrifying mystery.
Andy GavinUntimed alternate-history, time travel, YA ***** ReviewAmazonBelievable YA characters have to fix history after accidentally breaking it.
Ben RovikThe Wizard that Wasn’t fantasy, secondary-world, steampunk **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonPodiobooksDieselpunk done right.
Ben RovikThe Mask and the Master fantasy, secondary-world, steampunk **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonTwo well-intentioned groups. One tragic incident.
Blake M. PetitOther People’s Heroes supers **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonPodiobooksWhat being on a super-team is really like.
Brian MeeksHenry Wood Detective Agency historical, mystery, SF, time travel **** ReviewAmazonCharacters that grow beyond the noir tropes, and a mysterious closet that brings woodworking tools from the future.
Brian MeeksHenry Wood: Time and Again historical, mystery, SF, time travel **** ReviewAmazon
Brian RushThe Stairway to Nowhere fantasy, thriller, urban **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonNear-future urban fantasy in which two opposing orders of mages must cooperate to survive, led by a pair of conflicted ex-lovers.
Brian RushThe Order Master contemporary, fantasy, SF, urban **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonThe leader of a 700-year-old order of assassins wants out. His chance comes when he discovers that the enemy the order has been fighting are aliens, not demons.
Chris DolleyResonance SF, thriller ***** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonYou'd be OCD too if your whole world changed every time you varied your daily ritual.
Chris DolleyWhat Ho, Automaton! humour, mystery, steampunk **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonSteampunk Wodehouse.
Chris DolleyReggiecide humour, mystery, steampunk **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazon
Christiana EllisNina Kimberly the Merciless fantasy, humour, secondary-world, sword-and-sorcery **** ReviewAmazonPodiobooksBarbarian princess wants to kill her suitor. You will too.
Christiana EllisSpace Casey humour, SF, space opera **** PodiobooksSmall-time space criminal in big-time space trouble.
Christine AmsdenCassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective contemporary, fantasy, mystery, urban **** ReviewAmazonNon-powered daughter of a sorcerous family attempts independence as a PI, and must solve the mystery of the vampire attacks that threaten her town.
Debora GearyA Modern Witch contemporary, fantasy, suburban **** ReviewAmazonAmazon-exclusive
Debora GearyA Hidden Witch contemporary, fantasy, suburban **** Amazon
Debora GearyA Reckless Witch contemporary, fantasy, suburban **** Amazon
Debora GearyA Nomadic Witch contemporary, fantasy, suburban **** Amazon
Debora GearyWitches On Parole contemporary, fantasy, suburban **** AmazonWitches, personal growth, creativity and baked goods.
Debora GearyWitches Under Way contemporary, fantasy, suburban ***** Amazon
Debora GearyWitches In Flight contemporary, fantasy, suburban **** Amazon
Debora GearyA Lost Witch contemporary, fantasy, suburban **** ReviewAmazonHigher stakes than usual in this continuation of the successful suburban-fantasy series.
Elizabeth HunterA Hidden Fire fantasy, paranormal, romance, urban **** ReviewAmazonFree, first book in a series.
Heather AlbanoTimepiece alternate-history, historical, steampunk, time travel **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonWhen I say steampunk, it's not the usual 'Indiana Jones in a top hat with brass gears glued to it' stuff. It's the good kind.
James CalbraithThe Shadow of Black Wings alternate-history, fantasy, steampunk, YA **** ReviewAmazonPodiobooksSteampunk dragonriders. Need I say more?
L.J. CohenThe Between contemporary, fantasy, YA **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonReboots the Fae.
L.J. CohenDerelict SF, space opera, YA **** ReviewAmazon

Old-style space opera with a well-motivated YA cast and a plot like a Swiss watch.

Larry KollarWater and Chaos fantasy, secondary-world, YA **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonLoyal, brave, resourceful young sorcerer's apprentice goes on a mission to thwart rogue magic users.
Larry KollarThe Sorcerer’s Daughter fantasy, secondary-world, YA **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonDetermined young woman isn't going to let being heir to a noble house change her mind on what's really important.
Lindsay BurokerThe Emperor’s Edge fantasy, secondary-world, steampunk, thriller ***** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonPodiobooksFirst of the series of the same name. Free on Amazon and Smashwords.
Lindsay BurokerDark Currents fantasy, secondary-world, steampunk, thriller **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonPodiobooks
Lindsay BurokerDeadly Games fantasy, secondary-world, steampunk, thriller **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonPodiobooks
Lindsay BurokerBlood and Betrayal fantasy, secondary-world, steampunk, thriller **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazon
Lindsay BurokerTorrent contemporary, fantasy, SF, urban ***** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonNerdy young archaeologist/treasure-hunters battle an alien monster in contemporary Arizona.
Mary HollandMatcher Rules SF, utopian **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonPodiobooksWhat if an alien artifact could match you up with the people you'd most get along with?
Mary HollandThe Bone Road fantasy, secondary-world, SF **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonPodiobooksStrong, determined characters break out of their culture's prejudices and defeat a threat that nobody knew was there in this Le Guin-like social SF/fantasy.
Masha du ToitCrooks and Straights contemporary, fantasy, YA **** ReviewAmazonSet in an alternate South Africa, with magical people and beings and a sinister political movement that wants to control or eliminate them.
Matt PosnerSchool of the Ages: The Ghost in the Crystal ***** ReviewAmazonIf Harry Potter were more serious and less whimsical... In a good way.
Matthew Wayne SelznickBrave Men Run alternate-history, supers **** ReviewAmazonPodiobooksYouthful super is part of an X-Men-like emergence in the Reagan era.
Matthew Wayne SelznickPilgrimage alternate-history, supers **** ReviewAmazonThe sequel to Brave Men Run is stronger, darker and more tragic.
Michael J. ParryThe Spiral Tattoo fantasy, mystery, police procedural, secondary-world **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonPodiobooksA smart troll and a smart-mouthed pixie. Together, they fight crime.
Michael J. ParryThe Oaks Grove fantasy, mystery, police procedural, secondary-world **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonPodiobooksPhilosophical troll investigates country house mystery.
Morgan AlrethAthame **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonFun, funny, with great characters and an original plot.
Morgan AlrethWrath **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonReal-feeling characters navigate the pitfalls of a fantasy world with determination and integrity.
Mur LaffertyPlaying for Keeps supers **** SmashwordsAmazonPodiobooksLow-powered supers take on high-powered supers, who are jerks.
Nathan LowellQuarter Share SF, space opera **** AmazonPodiobooksA young man without choices still manages to improve others' lives.
Nathan LowellHalf Share SF, space opera **** AmazonPodiobooks
Nathan LowellFull Share SF, space opera **** AmazonPodiobooks
Philippa BallantineChasing the Bard fantasy, historical **** SmashwordsAmazonPodiobooksShakespeare meets the Fae.
Richard LevesqueTake Back Tomorrow historical, mystery, thriller, time travel **** ReviewAmazonTime traveler steals ideas from the SF greats of the 1930s.
Ripley PattonGhost Hand contemporary, fantasy, YA **** ReviewAmazonPitch-perfect teenagers dealing with strange powers and sinister men who hunt them.
Ripley PattonGhost Hold contemporary, fantasy, YA **** ReviewAmazonBook 2 in a series (read Ghost Hand first), in which things get very dire for our snarky heroine with the bodyless hand.
Robin SloanAnnabel Scheme alternate-history, cyberpunk, fantasy, mystery, SF, thriller, urban **** ReviewAmazonAI detective's assistant observes from her earring.
S. A. HuntThe Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree contemporary, fantasy, secondary-world **** ReviewAmazonEpic portal fantasy with an Old West twist.
Sabrina ChaseThe Last Mage Guardian alternate-history, fantasy **** ReviewAmazonA bit cinematic at the end, but some people like that sort of thing. I do.
Sabrina ChaseThe Scent of Metal SF, space opera **** ReviewAmazonAlien spaceship (disguised as Pluto) takes off unexpectedly with researchers aboard. How do they get home?
Scott MeyerOff to Be the Wizard **** ReviewSmashwordsAmazonIf you don't mind a tissue-thin and handwavey version of medieval England, this makes up in funny what it lacks in authenticity.

Indie authors may be asking "How do I get on this list?"

I'm afraid the answer is "write a good book, make it known by the usual legitimate channels, and wait for me to discover it for myself". I'm not currently doing reviews by request, because I was getting too many requests, and most of them were for books I wouldn't have chosen to read and didn't like much. Sorry.

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