5 Indie Urban Fantasies Well Worth Reading

The SPFBO contest opened its doors again this month, and I’m delighted to say The City Screams has made it into the cut of 300 hopefuls. It joins a wealth of what promise to be high-quality reads, many of which I have stacked up ready to read myself. Which reminded me I’ve not written many book reviews or recommendations recently. So, today I’m looking at five indie books I discovered through SPFBO, specifically from the same sub-genre as the Ordshaw series, urban (or rather contemporary) fantasy. They’re all well worth reading, yet all quite different (besides, perhaps, common themes of combining the familiar with the supernatural, and generally being fast and fun reads).

Sworn to the Night by Craig Schaefer

An SPFBO 4 finalist (having triumphed over Under Ordshaw in the semi-finals!), the cover alone drew me to this, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a fast-paced thriller of witches, warlocks, assassins and cultish types clashing around modern New York. Tightly written and skillfully connected, there’s a lot going on as we follow the paths of a knight-obsessed cop and a neglected housewife coming into her own; it fits, I gather, into a wider series, but I found this very entertaining in its own right.

Check it out here.


Paternus: Rise of the Gods by Dyrk Ashton

This one’s been around a little longer – it placed third in the 2017 SPFBO, deservedly so for two great strengths. First, the books has a palpable sense of a broad knowledge of folklore and old gods, evident in the countless unique but familiar (and horrible) beings that populate its pages. Second, more importantly, it is a pulse-beating roller-coaster of a story. Hard to put down and frequently brutal, it unfolds like a Battle Royale of unusual gods, tearing up the modern world – with scenes every bit as dramatic and memorable as that sounds.

Check it out here.


Hero Forged by Josh Erikson

A fellow semi-finalist in SPFBO last year, Hero Forged is the madcap story of a conman whose job-gone-wrong leaves him vying over brainspace with a malevolent god. Naturally, he faces a host of nasty creatures trying to muddle this through. Dotted with fun characters and humour, with a good-natured lead and a solid female co-star, it’s enjoyable to read in its own right, never mind the gradually rising stakes and crazy showdowns. And rumour has it the audiobook version is especially worth a listen.

Check it out here.


The Narrows by Travis Riddle

An entry in the current SPFBO, The Narrows has a slower pace than the others on this list, with more of a creeping dread, and it builds a strong atmosphere with it. Following a young man’s return to his hometown after some mysterious deaths, we’re gradually exposed to increasingly unusual, often frightening phenomena at large. It’s dark and imaginative, while also poignant in its exploration of evolving friendships. It’s also a quick read, containing a lot of story in a short space – something I’m always in favour of.

Check it out here.


Ghost Electricity by Sean Cunningham

Another semi-finalist from last year’s SPFBO, Ghost Electricity leans more towards the expected tropes of urban fantasy (with a werewolf and wizard up against the demons), done admirably thanks to a healthy dose of humour and a strong sense of setting in modern London. Easily comparable to the Rivers of London series, it happily combines the mundane details of everyday life (working in an office, navigating London) with a roster of nasty creatures and a delicate tapestry of interwoven supernatural complications.

Check it out here.


These are just the contemporary fantasy indie books I’ve read lately, but suffice to say I’ve enjoyed plenty of other self-published books besides. The standard being released now can easily compete with traditionally published books and it’s great to have a contest like SPFBO that highlights that.

If you’ve got any recommendations yourself, feel free to leave them in the comments below!