This week, the finalists of 2018’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off are taking a moment to highlight other worthy entrants in this year’s competition. It’s the nature of the contest that great books will drop along the path to a single winner, and so it stands to reason that some indie gems fell by the wayside when the judges narrowed three-hundred books to ten finalists. Yesterday, Ruthless Magic author Megan Crewe honored a few noble competitors, and today it’s my turn to introduce you to another handful of excellent SPFBO 2018 books. One of them could be exactly what you’re looking for in your next read.
Here Be Dragons
David Macpherson’s comedic romp across a magical land is both lighthearted and full of heart. Here Be Dragons was selected as one of Fantasy Book Critic’s semifinalists, when reviewer D. C. Stewart called it “a stand-out in this year’s SFPBO.” I’ve reviewed the book myself, and I kept finding myself snickering at Macpherson’s standout wit. If you’re looking for something fun and uplifting, I heartily recommend it.
The Stars Were Right
When I first heard about K.M. Alexander’s post-apocalyptic Cthulhu-noir mashup, I knew I wanted to read it. The concept is brilliant, and the world of The Stars Were Right is both deeply Lovecraftian and also fresh and unique. Since reading it, I’ve become even more enamored with the setting. If you ever read Kill 6 Billion Demons and thought it would be neat with more Mythos and Average Joes, you should absolutely check this one out.
I’m currently reading Sean Cunningham’s Ghost Electricity, which I resolved to pick up after Dyrk Ashton’s rave review. It’s genuinely funny, uniquely told, and straight-up bonkers. Seriously. So far I’ve encountered a dark cult, vampires, magic users, werewolves, shadow demons, and ghosts, and I’m not yet halfway through the book. But Cunningham keeps the plates spinning, and the madcap action and parade of supernatural characters only adds to the humor. It feels like a funnier Hellboy, or perhaps an urban fantasy version Dr. Who. But those comparisons are imperfect; Ghost Electricity is its own thing, and you should experience it for yourself.
I don’t envy the SPFBO’s official judges; it was hard to pick just three books to highlight. I’ve heard so much praise for Kings of Paradise I spent the first three months of the contest preparing to congratulate Richard Nell. I’ve got JC Kang’s epic Songs of Insurrection at the top of my TBR pile and I’m genuinely excited to jump in. Fellow SFF Fool’s Guild member Steve Thomas submitted an uncharacteristically dark entry in The Sangrook Saga, and I found the horrific stories inside reminiscent of Highlander and Dark Souls. And the list goes on.
On a final note, I want to thank Mark Lawrence, the judges, and the SPFBO community for this wonderful event. I’ve met so many great people, found so many fun books, and feel so much closer to the fantasy community since I entered. I’d also like to thank all of the folks who encouraged me to enter; I owe you a real debt for introducing me to this contest.
There is genuinely something for every fantasy fan featured in SPFBO 2018. If you haven’t already, there’s never been a better time to give an indie fantasy author a shot. If nothing I mentioned touched your fancy, just wait for tomorrow when Patrick LeClerc posts his own highlights.