The 300 books that were submitted for SPFBO 9 are here and I decided to comb through the list and share the books that I am intrigued by most. You’ll notice a lot of cozy fantasy, fantasy romance, and lighter fantasy on my personal list, but there are books for all types of fantasy series, so I encourage you to take a look!
Mysteries abound in Spindle Manor.
For Huntress Isabeau Agarwal, the countryside inn is the last stop in a deadly hunt. Armed with gaslamp and guns, she tracks an insidious beast that wears the skin of its victims, mimicking them perfectly. Ten guests reside within Spindle Manor tonight, and the creature could be any one of them. Confined by a torrential thunderstorm and running out of time, Isabeau has until morning to discover the liar, or none of them—including her—will make it out alive.
But her inhuman quarry isn’t the only threat residing in Spindle Manor.
A slammed door.
A dead body.
Someone has been killed, and a hunt turns into a murder investigation. Now with two mysteries at her feet and more piling up, Isabeau must navigate a night filled with lies and deception. In a world of seances and specters, mesmers and monsters, the unexpected is hiding around every corner, and every move may be her last.
I have had another book by Morgan Stang on my TBR for a while now! That one is called The Bookshop and the Barbarian and it is a cozy fantasy, so I was thrilled to see Murder at Spindle Manor on the list. This is a mystery with fantasy elements, which definitely appeals to me. I already have this downloaded on KU, so hopefully, I will get to it soon!
A mystery of a monster on the rampage ignites the passionate love triangle between a witch and two warriors with a help of a mysterious cat.
After ten years of peaceful solitude, exiled-mage-turned-village-witch, Lady Inanuan of Thorn, has her life turned upside down when a half-dead warrior is dumped on her doorstep. Soon she learns that no good deed goes unpunished in the Black Forest—not even if your friend is Leshy, the Forest God himself.
Expelled from her position as a court mage for her sharp tongue, Ina’s had ten years to learn how to survive in a harsh environment. The forbidden healing she performs links her life energy with her unexpected guest Marcach, captain of the guards, and Ren, his best friend, a traveller from lands so far away that many consider them a myth.
With unnatural monsters on the loose and unrest in the capital, everything points toward rebellion, and clues that both men discover indicate Ina’s involvement. Ina learns her magic is not what it seems, and her past comes back to haunt her.
An old mistake will see her dragged back to the court and thrown right into the middle of the political struggle. To make things worse, her heart succumbs not to just one man but two, and each expects the worst of her.
Will the woman who does not believe in love be able to choose? And can she clear her name and learn to control the Chaos before it burns the kingdom down?
Witches! That is all I needed to hear to add Autumn Chaos to my TBR! I then read that there is a mysterious cat and that only made me more excited! This is a fantasy romance with witches and a mystery. Yes, please! This is also on KU and there are two more books in the series currently available.
Rubem of No-Man’s Land was content keeping to his wine, his pets, and his extensive collection of fishnets.
But since a sentient, fuel-producing parasite bonded to his brainstem, every morally-depraved scientist and hardcore rebel for a hundred miles wants to ruthlessly dissect him. The parasite itself is no better, influencing his emotions and sassing him with his own memories as it slowly takes over his body.
The only person offering Rubem help is Tavish K. Findlay, a dashing and manipulative philanthropist whose mother’s fuel company monopolizes their corrupt underwater city with an iron claw. She desperately wants to tear Rubem apart for the parasite before those who oppose her can do the same. Her son is irresistibly charismatic though, and after a lifetime of being kicked out and disavowed, Rubem is desperate to believe in the friendship Tavish offers.
With revolutionary plots and political schemes tangling his every choice, Rubem must soon decide whether or not to trust Tavish in his fight against the parasite’s growing control.
Odder Still is a M/M fantasy novel with a class-crossing slow burn romance, murderous intrigue, and a Marvel’s Venom-style parasite-human friendship in an underwater steampunk city. This book exist in the wider These Treacherous Tides universe, coming chronologically after Once Stolen, but it is the first book in the No-Man’s Lander series and is an easy entry point into the world. Each No-Man’s Lander book has a romantically fulfilling ending and a final HEA, with steamy thoughts and foreplay but no explicit sex. (For more information on reading order, please visit D.N. Bryn’s website.)
Content warnings include alcohol consumption and animal death.
Odder Still is a m/m fantasy romance and there is some kind of Venom-like parasite. I am assuming there are SciFi elements but I am not sure what to expect from this one. I cannot wait to give it a try. It is another one that is available on KU!
New York City, 1859: On Samhain night, a mage pledged to the Wild Hunt is violently murdered. Tensions between the Hunt and Triona, Fey Queen of Central Park, heat up and threaten to boil over into a full-scale conflict. Sofia De Benedetti, mage and musician in Triona’s court, has her hands full making enough money to support herself and help women who are down on their luck in the rough corners of the city. Now a fey war looms and a mage killer is on the prowl. Everything Sofia has built since immigrating, and her life itself, is at risk. With the help of a cait sidhe and a tempestuous storm fey, Sofia must find the murderer before the streets of the city erupt into a magical battleground.
I will admit this was mostly a cover-add for me because look at that cat! I have learned that I really like historical fiction, so I have a feeling that The Fey of Castle Garden will work for me. You know I am not always the biggest fan of fey stories, but this sounds like a unique one! It is also on KU.
Sorcery is dying out
No one misses it.
Feared and despised in equal measure, Sanc is only tolerated because he’s the son of the powerful Duke of Morbaine.
But Sanc is more important than he knows. When his life is threatened, he is forced to confront his true inheritance.
For a new god has arrived in Dalriya. Unstoppable, Ezenachi brings only conquest and slavery.
Sorcery is dying out, and now Dalriya needs a sorcerer more than ever.
The synopsis for An Inheritance of Ash and Blood is vague but it is enough to pique my interest. Also, look at the dog on the cover! I am so easily won over by a book that has an animal on the cover and they rarely steer me wrong. Another one on KU as well!
It’s been nearly ten years since Quade last heard from Victor, his childhood friend and eventual lover. Resigned to a life of work and drudgery, the last thing Quade could have anticipated was an ominous summons from Victor to attend him at his home, Suriyel. With little thought to the consequences of his actions, Quade makes immediate plans to leave the city. After all, no matter the time or distance between them, Quade could never deny Victor anything.
Victor, a powerful and reclusive mage, is now the Lord of Suriyel. With all the years he’s spent hiding from the world, he’s no longer able to imagine a life outside the boundaries of his lands. His every moment is devoted to untangling the curse wrapped around his sister, compounding her already failing health.
Unbeknownst to the world at large, the tarn at Suriyel acts as a gateway to myriad alternate worlds. That gateway has been breached by Tristan Armoni, a power-hungry duke from another dimension–a duke who happens to be Victor’s mirror image and seeks to control more than just his own world. All that stands between Suriyel and Tristan is Victor’s magic. Without knowing the full extent of Tristan’s goals, Victor is desperate to find a way to save both his world and his sister.
For Tristan, no act is too depraved and no step too far. He will stop at nothing to see his mysterious plans through to the end.
Beautiful Undone was already on my TBR, so I was excited to see it on the list! I am now noticing how many of these books have cats on the cover and I am here for it! This is a m/m fantasy romance and it is a retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher by Poe. I loved What Moves the Dead, which is another The Fall of the House of Usher retelling, so that has me even more excited for Beautiful Undone!
Exiled for a murder her father committed, Brigid Cleary has until midsummer to gather what she needs for readmission to her home in the fairy mound: a chest of stolen gold and a chest full of her father’s blood. With nothing but her own wits and an ability to be mostly unseen, she takes a position as a scullery maid in a country manor house, where stealing gold is easy as dusting the candlesticks.
When discovery of her thieving becomes likely, she scarpers, embarking on a madcap season in London. With midsummer fast approaching, Brigid must recoup her stolen gold in any way she can, even if it means modeling for a lecherous pre Raphaelite artist, posing as a young debutante to spy on other debutantes, and forming a clandestine Pugilism Club for Young Ladies.
With gold filling her pockets and her father newly released from prison, the path back to the fairies should be clear. Or would be, were it not for her growing feelings for Edmund, the gentle young lord who hired her to spy on his sister; her burgeoning sense of loyalty and friendship to Adelaide, the sister upon whom she was meant to spy; and the unsettling question of whether she should–or even could–bloodily avenge her mother’s death.
Inspired by the actual 1895 murder of Bridget Cleary by her husband Michael, the struggle for Irish Home Rule, and events surrounding the late pre Raphaelite artistic movement, The Revenge of Bridget Cleary has been heralded by author Joanna Ruth Meyer as “equal parts haunting, compelling, and throughtful.”
The fact that The Revenge of Bridget Cleary is inspired by the actual 1895 murder of Bridget Cleary by her husband fascinates me so much! This is another book about fairies and our main character is banished from the fairy court, so this makes me nervous as someone who doesn’t love fairies, but the setup sounds good to me!
Two potion shops, one heated rivalry…until hate bubbles over into something else.
Any adventurer worth their sword knows about Ambrose Beake. The proud, quiet half-elf sells the best, and only, potions in the city—until a handsome new shopkeeper named Eli opens another potion shop across the street, throwing Ambrose’s peace and ledgers far off balance.
Within weeks, they’re locked in a war of price tags and products—Ambrose’s expertise against Eli’s effortless charm. Toil leads to trouble, the safety gloves come off, and right as their rivalry reaches a boiling point…
The mayor commissions them to brew a potion together.
The task is as complex as it is lucrative, pushing both men to the limits of their abilities and patience. Yet as the fires burn and cauldrons bubble…they find a different sort of chemistry brewing.
There are so many buzzwords in the description of A Rival Most Vial that it was instantly added to my TBR! It is a cozy mystery/fantasy, has a m/m romance, and the title rhymes! It also sounds like it is enemies-to-lovers and I like books about potions.
Chilling, dark fantasy with a heavy dose of Sherlock Holmes in this new series of twisty mysteries in fantasy worlds.
Pale moths haunt an icy frontier. Beneath the shadow of a drowned death god, a frozen body is unearthed from the snow.
Investigators arrive to a superstitious island to solve a brutal crime. Among them is a lowly slave desperate to prove her worth and a soldier with dark dreams. Neither are prepared for what they find.
Death City is a strange and violent frontier, and no one who survives comes back clean.
First though, Thora and Diem must survive.
Welcome to the Red Kingdom.
Dream of Death City sounds so good! I love the idea of a dark fantasy Sherlock Holmes. I am noticing that a lot of the books on the list have a mystery twist and I am kind of loving that!
Diamonds, Death, and Devonshire tea…
Miss Elinor Avely’s proper upbringing cannot prepare her for the tiny, spinster vampire who crashes into her sitting room and demands to be fed with a sheep.
Elinor already has enough troubles without having to catch ruminants. First, her secret gift for divining jewels has landed her in scandal, exiling her from London society. Second, a nobleman of dubious repute wants her to find a cache of smuggled jewels, hidden somewhere along the Devon coastline. Last – and worst – she is invited to cream tea at the local manor. And while the autocratic and magnificent Earl of Beresford might be there (and perhaps the jewels themselves too), Beresford is the last person Elinor wants to meet over cream tea.
When a dead body is discovered along the cliffs, of course, such delicate considerations become secondary. Fortunately, Elinor now has a small vampiric chaperone – even if said spinster has a habit of appearing stark naked – and together they are ready to risk the hard questions.
Where are the jewels hidden? Who killed the smuggler? And just when is the cream tea being served?
See what I mean about all of the mysteries on the list? The Lady Jewel Diviner definitely fits into that category! This looks like a quick, fun read and there are already four books in the series out if you love the first one and want to marathon them. I think they will be perfect to read on my Kindle on the beach this summer, which is why I am happy all the books in the series are on KU!
Murder, monsters…and a disreputable lady’s-maid on a mission.
A killer prowls the grimy streets of Whitechapel. Scotland Yard seems determined to turn a blind eye. But with one look at her best friend’s corpse, Liz Sharp knows the truth: the killer is a werewolf, one of the monsters that rules Europe.
If she doesn’t hold the monster accountable, no one else will. But Liz is a werewolf victim herself, her scars condemning her as the sort of female who’d sell her blood for easy money. Even if she finds out who’s responsible for Sal’s death, who would believe her?
Probably not the emotionally repressed princess whom Liz serves as a lady’s-maid/bodyguard. And definitely not the irritatingly personable policeman dogging her steps from the slums of Whitechapel to the palaces of St James.
As corpses mount up, Liz discovers that no one is precisely who she thought: not Sal, not herself, and certainly not the werewolf. The one thing she knows for sure? The truth will cost her everything. And Liz is hardly in a position to pay.
Luckily she has a few tricks hidden in the pockets of her trusty bloomers…
A witty historical fantasy adventure, perfect for fans of the Parasol Protectorate or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! Follow the intrepid Miss Sharp into an 1890’s Europe ruled by werewolves, vampires, and sirens…
I am hoping that The Werewolf of Whitechapel ends up being as campy and fun as its cover! It is historical/steampunk fantasy and the main character is a lady’s-maid. I am always up for a good monster novel!
The Vampire Prince.
The Werewolf Brawler.
The Dark Elf Warlock.
Even monsters can become heroes
Resurrected through strange necromancy, sixteen-year-old Hazel Enda adjusts to her new life and loss of emotions. Uncertain of the future, she receives a strange invitation to join the Evenfall Vigil, a group dedicated to protecting the kingdom from nocturnal supernatural threats.
Hazel unites with three fearsome outcasts to hunt the criminal genius known as “The Alchemist.” They must battle monsters, magic, and a religious cult to discover the Alchemist’s identity and save the kingdom, and themselves, from the mastermind’s increasingly lethal schemes. Will they fulfill the oaths they’ve sworn or die as Watchers of the Evenfall?
Watchers of the Evenfall is a high fantasy story filled with monsters, magic, and mystery.
I am loving everything about the synopsis of Watchers of the Evenfall! It looks like a found family story between a vampire, a werewolf, an elf warlock, and a human girl. It is on KU and I already have it downloaded!
It’s not easy being a doll girl in a flesh-and-blood world. Although her race was created from magic as second-class citizens, Sorla’s baked goods are now famous for miles around thanks to her hard work and unrelenting optimism. She’s even attracted the notice of Prince Seldon, who invites her to work at the royal bakery in the capital.
The one thing Sorla’s life is missing is love. Her youthful crush ditched her for a normal girl with generous curves (of course), and technically she is unsexed (parts sold separately). Flesh girls certainly don’t have to save money to buy themselves lady bits before they can even date.
Her ride-for-hire to the capital? Dorr, a soldier revived from a battlefield death, as is the way of his necromancing clan. He might rather have been left to die with his comrades. Instead, a few parts of their bodies were stitched on to fix his. Scarred and broken, Dorr wants to drop off his overly cheerful companion as quickly as possible—until he realizes that her pastries are the only thing that’s tasted good since his revival.
As they slowly open up over dog rescues (her idea), graveyard strolls (his idea), and of course, delicious pastry, love and trust grows between these two misfits. But the war isn’t over, and when the royal family expect Sorla’s pastries to save the life of the hero of the realm, she might lose Dorr and everything she’s worked for.
Cross a Ghibli movie with The Nightmare Before Christmas, add a little spice, and you might have the quirkiest of romcoms.
Doll Girl Meets Dead Guy sounds like a sweet, cozy fantasy romance with a twist! There is also baking so you know this is something I have to read.
Once upon a chime…
Every day at four o’ clock, an enchanted twilight sweeps over Vale Argantel. Strange things happen under its eldritch mists boil up out of the ground, rain pours out of a cloudless sky, and the roses grow wild and fey. Such is the way of things.
But when her friend falls through a magic mirror and disappears, Margot realises something’s changed. An ancient enchantment has gone awry, and chaos quickly spreads. Magic-drunk, confused and hampered at every turn, Margot must find a way to reclaim Oriane — and before anybody else disappears.
But for Oriane, things are stranger still. Lost in a topsy-turvy world, how can she ever find her way home? For she’s adrift in a place very like Argantel — eerily familiar, yet strangely different; a place which follows none of the usual rules…
Get drunk on magic — try this atmospheric fantasy from the author of the Tales of Aylfenhame and Faerie Fruit.
Gloaming is another cozy fantasy/mystery and it is part of a series where I get the impression that each of the books can be read as a standalone. I am getting major fairytale vibes from this book and I am looking forward to it!
Aurora’s greatest entrepreneur has been murdered, and only the truth will save Alchemist Ortez from the gallows.
Facing a heated courtroom of strangers, he must now recall the events that brought him here as a fellow alchemist probes his memory. Such is the job of alchemists: administering elixirs in order to see into the minds of men. Their dreams. Their nightmares. Their secrets.
But while everyone believes him guilty, Alchemist Ortez knows what they do not.
He was hired by the victim for a job unlike any they could imagine. Nor would they ever guess what other mysteries lie buried beneath the mountain metropolis of Aurora, a cave-enclosed city where countless gas lamps illuminate the endless night.
And here we have another mystery that intrigues me! Trial of the Alchemist is also steampunk and the vibes of the cover alone tell me this is something I am going to like. It is available on KU and I am excited to try it!
They say love conquers all… but can the conquered ever love the conqueror?
Twenty-five years ago, there was life. Twenty-five years ago, there was peace when the descendants of the dryads and naiads kept all life in balance. Until one fateful night when the Oderbergs invaded, executed the royal house of Domonov and took Domovnia for their own, ruling with an iron fist and an edict of fear.
Roslyn Pleveli, like most of the orphans of that night, wants revenge and an end to the persecution of her kind. Yet, even if the Domovnian’s use of magic was permitted, she wouldn’t be much help, able to command only a few lowly weeds. But everything changes when she saves the life of an injured young man in the forest not knowing it was the prince of the Oderbergs himself. Ordered to see to the rest of his treatment, Roslyn is snatched from her home and all that she loves by his soldiers.
Now, in the Oderberg stronghold, she has the chance to change things. With the royal family within her grasp all she has to do to free her people is kill them… but can she do it, or will something more powerful than revenge heal the wounds of the past?
First of all, the cover for The Briar Crown is everything! As always, Esmay’s review sold me on this book! She described it as having a heartwarming romance with alluring magic and political intrigue. That is definitely something I want to read!
Alphonse Hollyhock is blessed with wealth, class, and more beauty than brains. Though he hasn’t got a lick of wit or magic to his name, he’s perfectly content living life as an airheaded bachelor with his valet—the clever, unflappable Jacobi—by his side to ensure everything runs smoothly. All he lacks, according to his mother, is a wife.
Despite Alphonse’s protests, he’s to marry Aaliyah Kaddour: a bright, headstrong young woman who would probably be charming company if she didn’t threaten everything about Alphonse’s way of life. Marrying means giving up his fashionable flat, his fast car, and, worst of all, it means losing Jacobi.
Perhaps most distressingly, this talk of marriage is bringing all sorts of confusing feelings to the forefront. Because rather than falling for the beautiful girl being pushed into his arms, Alphonse seems to be falling for his valet. Except a man can’t fall in love with another man. Can he?
Meanwhile, Aaliyah has plans of her own. She’s as devious as she is pretty, but if Alphonse wants to get through this marriage business in one piece, he’ll have to trust her. Her and Jacobi, and, most dangerously, his own feelings.
The Bachelor’s Valet was already on my TBR, so this is exciting and now I have an excuse to prioritize it, especially since I have had is checked out on KU for ages! I love a good historical fantasy romance and I have heard amazing things about this one in particular. There are also a few books in this series that seem to follow different characters.
Greek mythology and fae fantasy romance collide in this sweeping story of divided loyalty and forbidden love. I am the daughter of the king, and he is the fae monster my father sent me to kill. For years, the people of my kingdom have whispered tales of the monstrous Minotaur in the depths of an underground maze. Every night, he enters my dreams. His golden eyes capture mine. His horns caress my spine. And I always wake drenched in fear. He’s waiting for me, I know. But when I venture into the darkness, I find that the monster is in fact a handsome man, cursed by the fae gods to roam the maze. Trapped in the labyrinth with him, I start feeling something that I know I should not—a strange desire wells up within me. My heart is torn between my loyalty to my kingdom and the man whose loneliness echoes my own. As we attempt to escape the treacherous maze, secrets that were meant to remain hidden in its depths beg to be revealed, and with them comes a love so forbidden yet so powerful that it could forever change my life. Author’s note : This book is intended for readers who are 18 or older, as it contains explicit content and darker elements, including mature language, violence, and sex. The story is a loose reimagining of the Greek myth of the Minotaur, and it is a standalone fae fantasy romance with an HEA.
I was so thrilled to see a Greek myth retelling on the list! The cover of Fae Gods is incredible as well! I love that it is a mix of Greek myths and fae romance and is a loose retelling of the Minotaur. Bonus points for it being a stand-alone and for being on KU!
The world of Azadia smolders in restless isolation, molten rivers splitting the earth, and curtains of ash dripping from a scarlet sky. The followers of Alrya – an empire that spans many worlds – believe Azadia to be the hell their faith condemns, but to Draden and his family, it is merely home.
Once a feared warlord, Draden now wishes only to maintain a fragile peace in his corner of Azadia. But Draden’s contentment ends swiftly when a Tear – a passageway between worlds – splits open in his kingdom, and a stranger comes tumbling through with the fury of Alrya licking at his heels. Draden decides to take the young man in, but Vessels – eerie creatures that appear to be women, wreathed in flowering overgrowth and puppeted by an unknown force – pursue Jak into Draden’s kingdom, Lucia. The ensuing battle forces Draden to acknowledge that, as much as he hates to admit it, he can’t face this threat alone.
As a new war breaks forth from an ancient rivalry, Alrya fights to appease a god that has fallen silent, while the rulers of Azadia form an uneasy alliance against the waves of Alryan forces closing in on them from distant worlds. But even as these tentative new allies help Draden resist invasion, the conflict draws out Draden’s own struggles with restless memories and the temptations of power.
Meanwhile, Jak, now fleeing Alrya’s endless war, seeks a new Tear in hopes that it will lead him to a place where he will be left in peace to study the stars. But his budding feelings for Edim and Tlia, companions met in his travels, and the revelation of his fascinating gift for Blood Craft, a forbidden magic of Azadia, complicate Jak’s desire to leave the war-wracked world.
Together with Sarien, a famous hero who has put her own adventures on hold to help her half-brother defend Lucia, and Epomina, a mercenary seeking the elusive magic of Storm Craft in a world where strength is all that stands between her and a bloody end, Draden and his allies make their stand.
The Gardens of Ash is the first entry in an epic of gothic fantasy.
The tone of The Gardens of Ash is definitely different from the others on my list but I was sold on it when I saw it is a Gothic fantasy. It is intimidating to me but I figured that I needed to attempt a few of the books on the list that will push me out of my comfort zone since I was surprised by some of the books on last year’s list. The fact that it is on KU means there is a better chance I will try it!
“Life used to be good. I had money. I had fame. I had respect. The same thrill during work every day. A different woman in my bed every night. Best fighter to hire for dangerous jobs. Most famous thief in the Nineteen Kingdoms. Half the world sought my services when they needed the impossible done. The other half wanted to sleep with me.
Then one day this strange guy showed up with his even stranger pet, the latter a bit of a gift horse by all accounts, and turned it all upside down. They claimed to have come to save my life, and while they were at it, I got them to help out with the most important quest of my existence: finding the Supreme Key of the Dragon. Needless to say, none of it turned out quite how I expected. But we had fun, even if it was hell sometimes. In the end, what we found was worth it all.
My name is Conor Drew, the Gods destined me for great things.
A Gamble of Gods is another one that is a little bit outside of my comfort zone but I have been loving dragons lately so I couldn’t resist. I also appreciate a good SciFi/fantasy and I have seen a lot of reviewers compare it to Indiana Jones! It is on Kindle Unlimited.
A half witch with no power. A warlock who’s betrayed his own kind, and the monster that’s hunting them both. Destined to fail, Rossi is only a half witch. Her coven, her mom, even her troll were constantly trying to make up for lack of magic, but Rossi knows. And she’s over being a burden, but unsure how to fix it. On a stormy night, a bolt of lightning makes the choice for her, while at the same time, sending a pulse out into the magical world. Within hours, strangers start showing up in her small mountain county by the bucketloads. An annoying, but somewhat swoony warlock with plenty of his own secrets.
An unusual unicorn who had delusions of grandeur.
A monster that uses tricks of the mind to trap its prey.
And more witches than Rossi could possibly count. All of them interested in only one thing. Rossi.
Give me all of the witchy books! A swoony warlock? Yes, please! A unicorn? Yes, please! Witch Stone is definitely near the top of my list of must reads! I was also excited to find in on Kindle Unlimited.
There are many more books on the list that caught my eye but I tried to keep this to a reasonable length! I am thrilled that so many of these are on KU because I am definitely going to be putting my subscription to use.