So, the fourth Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) contest has come to an end! 300 standalone or first-in-a-series fantasy novels entered back in spring 2018 and only a mere ten reached the final. The scores are in, and one tale out of that handful has been crowned victorious.
My novel Melokai (In the Heart of the Mountains #1) was picked as a semi-finalist, but alas, my journey was to end there. Listed below, however, are those that made it to the very top.
From sword and sorcery to steampunk, urban fantasy to gritty grimdark, there's plenty to pick from and enjoy.
Book Review and Author Interview: Bloodrush (The Scarlett Star Trilogy #1) by Ben Galley
The author Ben Galley kindly agreed to answer some of my questions! So, below is my review and following is the interview.
Bloodrush is a weird west fantasy is set in the frontier town of Fell Falls, America. It’s on the edges of a dusty, desolate desert. There are guns, wild locals, and monsters called railwraiths that eat up the railway workers attempting to lay tracks to expand the empire. There’s also blood magic and faeries. Yep, faeries!
Author Richard Writhen writes a fusion of horror and fantasy. Specifically, weird fiction, cosmic horror and gothic fiction presented as fantasy, and all with a dark atmosphere and grimdark feel. Sounds utterly delicious doesn’t it!
Well, Richard has a new release out called The Angel of the Grave and he’s agreed to not only answer some of my questions but also provide me with an excerpt of his latest novel for you all to feast your voracious reading eyes upon!
Book Review: Kurintor Nyusi by Aaron-Michael Hall
This epic fantasy novel is full of diverse and well-realised characters, intriguing worldbuilding, vivid and descriptive writing, as well as fun-to-read dialogue. It tells the tale of one girl’s self-discovery and ‘awakening’. This is just in time for a looming battle with a wayward demon goddess who tricked a god a while back and is still making trouble.
Book Review: Light Dawning by Ty Arthur
This fantasy is definitely on the darker side with ruthless fight scenes, some arachnid-type creatures (urgh, shivers) and a bleak backdrop. Set in an occupied city called Cestia, the population is brutalised and oppressed by the occupiers from the south, who, after three years, still haven’t moved on.
My short story The Clash at Jagged Canyon is included in the Beyond the Shadows grimdark fantasy short story anthology.
Matthew Johnson, my fellow short story author – also known by the moniker Professor Grimdark – kindly agreed to answer some of my questions about his story in the anthology, his latest writing projects and just who is Professor Grimdark.
“You stink. You could do with a wash.”
Captain Breeya stood next to a glistening swimming hole and undid her sword belt. Captain Sanya didn’t move, didn’t reply. Instead, she pursed her lips and stared at Bree. San held up her fist to the six warriors behind her. None moved.
Book Review: We Ride the Storm (The Reborn Empire #1) by Devin Madson
Well. This is by far my favourite read of 2018. It was B R I L L I A N T. It knocked the socks off everything I’ve read this year, and that’s saying something as I’ve read a lot of great books in the past 12 months. So, why was We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson that good? Let me explain…
Book Review and Author Interview: Paternus: Wrath of Gods (Paternus Trilogy #2) by Dyrk Ashton
The author Dyrk Ashton kindly agreed to answer some of my questions! So, below is my review and following is the interview.
I listened to the audiobook of the first book in the trilogy, Paternus: Rise of Gods, and absolutely loved it (read my review here), so I was super excited for book two. I read this one as an ebook and absolutely loved it too. Hurrah!
Book Review and Author Interview: Darkmage (The Rhenwars Saga #1) by M.L. Spencer
The author M.L. Spencer kindly agreed to answer some of my questions! So, below is my review and following is the interview.
This grimdark fantasy book follows the story of Darien Lauchlin, a rebellious but honourable mage who returns to his hometown to take his official mage oath only to see the city, and his loved ones, destroyed by his wicked brother. Said brother opens a portal to the netherworld and unleashes all kinds of hellish creatures on the real world. Darien must regain control, even if that means he has to break the oath he holds so dear…
The Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) is in it’s fourth year. It is a contest hosted by author Mark Lawrence that brings together 300 self-published fantasy books and ten book blogs. Each blog (which may have more than one reviewer) receives 30 books to read. They must choose one from their batch that goes into the finals.
Book Review: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
The Poppy War is an Asian-inspired epic fantasy that is influenced by the real-world events of the Second Sino-Japanese war and the 1937 Rape of Nanjing. It tells the story of Rin, a war orphan fostered by the local drug dealers in a country town, and her remarkable journey from there to the number one military school, and after as a soldier.
Book Review: The Court of Broken Knives (The Empires of Dust #1) by Anna Smith Spark
The Court of Broken Knives is an excellent grimdark fantasy book which I found super intense to read and left me feeling a bit overwhelmed – in the best possible way!
It follows the story of a group of mercenaries employed by a bored noble with grand ambitions to kill his Emperor and court to usher in a ‘better rule’. One of the fighting men turns out to be rather more than anyone expected and then with double crosses and triple crosses (and maybe even quadruple crosses), the assassination attempt goes tits up and everyone has to deal the best they can with the fall out.
Book Review: I Was a Teenage Weredeer (Bright Falls Mysteries #1) by C.T. Phipps & Michael Suttkus
This is a fun urban fantasy murder mystery which follows the adventures of 18-year-old Jane Doe in the Michigan town of Bright Falls as she hunts for the killer of her best friend’s sister, Victoria, after the murder is pinned on Jane’s brother.
Book Review: Godblind (The Godblind Trilogy) by Anna Stephens (published by Harper Voyager)
Godblind is a grimdark fantasy novel that has been on my ‘to be read’ list since it came out this time last year. I was first attracted by the gorgeous cover, then read lots of rave reviews and added Anna Stephens to my must-read female grimdark fantasy authors list. But a year after it released, I still hadn’t quite got around to reading Godblind.
Then I read two of the author’s short stories in two different places: Flesh and Coin in Art of War anthology and Just a Little Murder in issue 15 of Grimdark Magazine and was completely sold. Godblind got bumped up my TBR pile!
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