There are 471 Whispersync-enabled titles in this month’s Kindle Monthly Deal listings, 75 of them in the Science Fiction & Fantasy section. While quite a few of these we’ve seen before (Amazon’s 47North and Brilliance Audio pipeline) there’s one right at the top that’s far and away my first pick this month: Kameron Hurley’s Worldbreaker Saga, read by Liza Ross:
The Mirror Empire: Worldbreaker Saga 1 for $1.99+$3.49 and Empire Ascendant: Worldbreaker Saga #2 for $1.99+$2.99 are just ridiculous prices for what you’re getting here. The Mirror Empire was one of my favorites of 2014, when I called it “a giant pile of ideagasm awesomeness with sentient trees, acid magic, multiple worlds, a quasi-samurai-Jedi class, pacifists vs. huge body counts, and more to come.” That “more to come” is Empire Ascendant, a cataclysmic doubling down on one of the best epic fantasies going, performed fantastically by Ross. Quoting my full review from 2014: “
Meanwhile for teens, Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Book 1) is on sale for $1.99+$3.49, read by Lauren Fortgang: “Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves her life-a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.”
And in the young reader section, Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is $2.99+$2.99 — “September is a girl who longs for adventure. When she is invited to Fairyland by a Green Wind and a Leopard, well, of course she accepts. (Mightn’t you?) But Fairyland is in turmoil, and it will take one 12-year-old girl, a book-loving dragon, and a strange and almost human boy named Saturday to vanquish an evil Marquess and restore order.”
All right, let’s dig in to what else is available on the cheap this month:
Shield and Crocus by Michael R. Underwood, read by Luke Daniels for $1.99+$1.99 — “The city of Audec-Hal sits among the bones of a Titan. For decades it has suffered under the dominance of five tyrants, all with their own agendas. Their infighting is nothing, though, compared to the mysterious “Spark-storms” that alternate between razing the land and bestowing the citizens with wild, unpredictable abilities. It was one of these storms that gave First Sentinel, leader of the revolutionaries known as the Shields of Audec-Hal, power to control the emotional connections between people – a power that cost him the love of his life.”
Macbeth: A Novel by A.J. Hartley and David Hewson, read by Alan Cumming for $2+$3.99 — “Macbeth: A Novel brings the intricacy and grit of the historical thriller to Shakespeare’s tale of political intrigue, treachery, and murder. In this full-length novel written exclusively for audio, authors A. J. Hartley and David Hewson rethink literature’s most infamous married couple, grounding them in a medieval Scotland whose military and political upheavals are as stark and dramatic as the landscape on which they are played.”
Pirates of the Outrigger Rift by Gary Jonas and Bill D. Allen, read by Kate Rudd for $1.99+$1.99 — “When the security director of the powerful corporation Nebulaco dies under mysterious circumstances, courier Sai Collins has one last top-secret delivery to make on his behalf. Sai has come a long way from her street-kid childhood, but she has her secrets – namely that she’s a cyber-psi, a computer telepath who can connect to the grid without hardware. A talent she’s going to desperately need.”
Pale Queen Rising (Pale Queen Series Book 1) by A.R. Kahler, read by Amy McFadden for $1.99+$1.99 — Out just last October: “As royal assassin for the Faerie Queen, Claire is used to moving between the mortal world and the Winter Kingdom. When the queen commands her to kill, Claire does the job and doesn’t ask questions. Her deadly skills and loyalty are soon tested when Claire is sent to the Immortal Circus. It is one of the many places where Dream is harvested from the imaginings of mortals, and someone is causing it to mysteriously disappear. Claire’s job is to find the culprit before the Winter Kingdom’s supply of Dream is depleted enough to threaten the very survival of the Fey.” Cold Dream Dawning (Pale Queen Series Book 2) is due out in May.
Rewinder (Rewinder Series Book 1) by Brett Battles, read by Vikas Adam for $1.99+$1.99 — “You will never read Denny Younger’s name in any history book, will never know what he’s done. But even if you did, you’d never believe it. The world as you know it wouldn’t be the same without him. Denny was born into one of the lowest rungs of society, but his bleak fortunes abruptly change when the mysterious Upjohn Institute recruits him to be a Rewinder, a verifier of personal histories. The job at first sounds like it involves researching old books and records, but Denny soon learns it’s far from it. A Rewinder’s job is to observe history. In person. Embracing his new life with enthusiasm, Denny witnesses things he could never even imagine before. But as exciting a life as this is, there are dangers, too. For even the smallest error can have consequences. Life-altering consequences. Time, after all, is merely a reference point.”
The Paladin Caper (Rogues of the Republic Book 3) by Patrick Weekes, read by Justine Eyre for $1.99+$1.99 — “Loch and her crew are determined to stop the ancients from returning to reclaim the world they once ruled, but the kidnapping of a friend throws their plans awry. When a desperate rescue turns into a shocking reunion, the ancients return and seize power. Determined to stop them, Loch and the group look for a way to close the gate to the ancients’ world, but this time, they find themselves up against an enemy that has insinuated itself into the highest ranks of the Republic. Cruel, cunning, and connected, the ancients target the crew’s families and histories, threatening to tear friendships apart.” The Palace Job (Rogues of the Republic Book 1) is $3.99+$1.99, but somehow The Prophecy Con (Rogues of the Republic Book 2) isn’t listed properly at Audible, so you’re looking at a $7.35 MP3-CD instead. Weird.
The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter: The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, Book 1 and Unseemly Science: The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, Book 2 by Rod Duncan, read by Gemma Whelan for $1.99+$3.49 and $1.99+$2.99 — Book 1 was a finalist for the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award: “Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life – as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus. But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better.”
Seven Kinds of Hell (The Fangborn Series Book 1), Pack of Strays (The Fangborn Series Book 2), and Hellbender (The Fangborn Series Book 3) by Dana Cameron, read by Kate Rudd for $1.99+$1.99 each — “When archaeologist Zoe Miller’s cousin is abducted by a vicious Russian kidnapper, she must come to grips with a haunting secret. Unknown to even her closest friends, Zoe is not entirely human. She is a werewolf and a daughter of the “Fangborn”, a hidden race of werewolves, vampires, and oracles. Zoe’s attempt to rescue her cousin leads her on a quest for artifacts – including Pandora’s Box, an object of world-ending power. With the fate of humanity in the balance, Zoe will be forced to renew family ties and pit her own supernatural abilities against a dark and nefarious foe. At once captivating, deftly worded, and character-rich, Seven Kinds of Hell expands vampire legend and werewolf noir in both intensity and charismatic bite.”
The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Series, Book 1), The Glass Magician (The Paper Magician Series, Book 2), and The Master Magician (The Paper Magician Series Book 3) by Charlie N. Holmberg, read by Amy McFadden for $2+$1.99 each — “Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.”
A Private Little War by Jason Sheehan, read by Luke Daniels for $1.99+$1.99 — “The pilots of Flyboy, Inc., landed on the alien planet of Iaxo with a mission: In one year, quash an insurrection; exploit the ancient enmities of an indigenous, tribal society; and kill the hell out of one group of natives to facilitate negotiations with the surviving group – all over 110 million acres of mixed terrain.”
Expendable (League of Peoples Book 1) by James Alan Gardner, read by Christine Marshall for $1.99+$2.99 — “Under the benevolent leadership of the League of Peoples, there is no war, little crime, and life is sacred…unless you’re an Explorer. The ugly, the flawed, the misfit, the deformed, they are the unwanted, flung to the farthest corners of the galaxy to investigate hostile planets and strange, vicious creatures. Out there, there are a thousand different – and terrible – ways to die. Festina Ramos belongs to the well-trained, always-dwindling ranks of ECMs (Expendable Crew Members). Now she and her partner, Yarrun Derigha, have been ordered to escort the unstable Admiral Chee to Melaquin — the feared “Planet of No Return”– which has swallowed up countless Explorers before them without a trace.Obviously, this is meant to be the last mission for Ramos and Derigha. But it won’t be, if Festina can help it.”
The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn, read by Luke Daniels for $1.99+$1.99 — “A group of close friends gathers at a secluded cabin in the wintry mountains of Colorado for a final holiday hurrah. Instead, it may be their last stand. First a massive blizzard leaves them marooned. Then the more chilling realization: Something is lurking in the woods, watching them, waiting….”
Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen, read by Nick Podehl and Tanya Eby for $1.99+$1.99 — “When L. Frank Baum introduced Dorothy and friends to the American public in 1900, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz became an instant, best-selling hit. Today the whimsical tale remains a cultural phenomenon that continues to spawn wildly popular books, movies, and musicals. Now, editors John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen have brought together leading fantasy writers such as Orson Scott Card and Jane Yolen to create the ultimate anthology for Oz fans.” Additional authors include Tad Williams, Seanan McGuire, Jonathan Maberry, Ken Liu, and more.
New Blood (HALO) by Matt Forbeck, read by Scott Brick for $1.99+$3.99 — “While Spartans get all the glory, no soldier – not even the legendary Master Chief – wins a war on his own. Gunnery Sergeant Edward Buck and his team of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODSTs) played a major role in saving the Earth from all-out invasion at the end of the Covenant War – acts of bravery and ingenuity that did not go unnoticed by the United Nations Space Command.”
Mycroft Holmes by Kareen Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse, read by Damian Lynch for $1.99+$3.99 — “Fresh out of Cambridge University, the young Mycroft Holmes is already making a name for himself in government, working for the Secretary of State for War. Yet this most British of civil servants has strong ties to the faraway island of Trinidad, the birthplace of his best friend, Cyrus Douglas, a man of African descent, and where his fiancée Georgiana Sutton was raised. Mycroft’s comfortable existence is overturned when Douglas receives troubling reports from home. There are rumors of mysterious disappearances, strange footprints in the sand, and spirits enticing children to their deaths, their bodies found drained of blood. Upon hearing the news, Georgiana abruptly departs for Trinidad. Near panic, Mycroft convinces Douglas that they should follow her, drawing the two men into a web of dark secrets that grows more treacherous with each step they take…”
Teen: The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble, read by Kate Rudd for $1.99+$1.99 — 2014 Winner — Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award — Young Adult Fiction: “One day, Clara discovers shimmering scales just beneath her sister’s skin. She realizes that Maren is becoming a mermaid-and knows that no mermaid can survive on land. Desperate to save her, Clara and O’Neill place the mermaid-girl in their gypsy wagon and set out for the sea. But no road is straight, and the trio encounters trouble around every bend. Ensnared by an evil troupe of traveling performers, Clara and O’Neill must find a way to save themselves and the ever-weakening mermaid.”
Teen: Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days Book 1), World After (Penryn & the End of Days Book 2), and End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days Series Book 3) by Susan Ee, read by Caitlin Davies for $1.99+$1.99 each — “It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her 17-year-old sister, Penryn, will do anything to get her back. Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.”
Teen: The Stellow Project by Shari Becker, read by Kate Rudd for $1.99+$1.99 — “When a killer storm unexpectedly hits Manhattan, 17-year-old Lilah Stellow’s dad insists that she and her younger sister, Flori, take refuge at their cabin in the mountains. But instead of joining them with the experimental drug that keeps Lilah alive, he disappears just as news reports name him as a prime suspect in an act of ecoterrorism.”
Want more sf/f? The Mongoliad Series (5 Book Series), Legends of Muirwood (3 Book Series), The Brilliance Trilogy (3 Book Series), Area 51 Series (9 Book Series), Mercury Series (4 Book Series), Scarlett Bernard (3 Book Series), The Breaking World (3 Book Series), The Immortal Circus (3 Book Series), The Curse Keepers (Curse Keepers Series, Book 1), Witching Savannah (4 Book Series), The Immortalists, Further: Beyond the Threshold, Search for the Buried Bomber (Dark Prospects Book 1), and The X-Files: Skin; for teens, there’s also NEED, Croak (Croak Series Book 1), Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl, and Deviants (The Dust Chronicles Book 1); and for kids, there’s Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher (Magic Shop Book Book 2) and Fishtale. That’s plenty to keep you busy!
As far as literary and historical fiction go, there’s a few that caught my eye as well:
The Hundred-Year Flood by Matthew Salesses, read by Mark Schenfisch for $2+$1.99 — “In the tradition of Native Speaker and The Family Fang, Matthew Salesses weaves together the tangled threads of identity, love, growing up, and relationships in his stunning first novel, The Hundred-Year Flood. This beautiful and dreamlike debut follows 22-year-old Tee as he escapes to Prague in the wake of his uncle’s suicide and the aftermath of 9/11. Tee tries to convince himself that living in a new place will mean a new identity and a chance to shed the parallels between him and his adopted father. His life intertwines with Pavel Picasso, a painter famous for revolution; Katka, his equally alluring wife; and Picasso’s partner – a giant of a man with an American name. In the shadow of a looming flood that comes every one hundred years, Tee contemplates his own place in life as both mixed and adopted and as an American in a strange land full of heroes, myths, and ghosts.”
Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani, read by Karen Peakes for $2+$1.99 — “When her father falls into a coma, Indian American photographer Sonya reluctantly returns to the family she’d fled years before. Since she left home, Sonya has lived on the run, free of any ties, while her soft-spoken sister, Trisha, has created a perfect suburban life, and her ambitious sister, Marin, has built her own successful career. But as these women come together, their various methods of coping with a terrifying history can no longer hold their memories at bay.”
American Appetites by Joyce Carol Oates, read by Barbara Caruso for $1.99+$3.99 — “Joyce Carol Oates has been hailed as America’s foremost woman of letters. She is at her best in American Appetites, weaving a masterful tale of personal entanglements, fatal decisions, and courtroom drama. Ian and Glynnis McCullough, intelligent, professional, and successful, are the envy of their affluent friends. But suddenly, an unexpected plea for help and a cancelled check send their tranquility spinning out of control.”
Gutenberg’s Apprentice: A Novel by Alix Christie, read by Robert Petkoff for $1.99+$3.99 — “Youthful, ambitious Peter Schoeffer is on the verge of professional success as a scribe in Paris when his foster father, the wealthy merchant and bookseller Johann Fust, summons him home to corruption- riddled, feud-plagued Mainz to meet “a most amazing man.” Johann Gutenberg, a driven and caustic inventor, has devised a revolutionary – and, to some, blasphemous – method of bookmaking: a machine he calls a printing press. Fust is financing Gutenberg’s workshop, and he orders Peter to become Gutenberg’s apprentice. Resentful at having to abandon a prestigious career as a scribe, Peter begins his education in the “darkest art.” As his skill grows, so too does his admiration for Gutenberg and his dedication to their daring venture: printing copies of the Holy Bible. But when outside forces align against them, Peter finds himself torn between two father figures – the generous Fust and the brilliant, mercurial Gutenberg, who inspires Peter to achieve his own mastery.”
A Land Divided (The Blood of Kings Book 1) by K.M. Ashman, read by Napoleon Ryan for $2+$1.99 — “1081. William’s bloody conquest is over and Britain is under Norman rule. But one bastion of resistance remains: Wales. A divided land where brother fights brother and kings battle for power. The English use this to further their own ends, and while one king is tempted by an offer he cannot resist, the others wage war over long-forgotten feuds. Gruffydd Ap Cynan, true heir to the kingdom of Gwynedd, is in exile across the sea. When he hears of the betrayal of the Welsh people by the imposter in his throne, Gruffydd unites with Tewdwr, a monarch deposed by the traitors, and they forge an army from the ashes of their kingdoms. But Tewdwr’s wife and daughter – the source of much of the allies’ strength – are a weakness their enemies will exploit.”