Can’t Miss Indie Press Speculative Fiction for March and April 2024

Weird gods, Austrian zombies, and surreal villages don’t seem to have much in common—and yet all three are featured prominently in indie press titles in the spring of 2024. A look at some genre books due out from indie presses in March and April reveals a lot of ground covered—from trips into fantastical realms to unsettling detours into abandoned spaces holding supernatural secrets. Here are some notable books due out on small presses in the months to come.

File Under: Uncanny Landscapes

Laurel Hightower’s fiction reckons with mythologies both regional and personal. In the case of her novel Below, that took the form of a riff on all things Mothman. For her new book, The Day of the Door, it’s an exploration of familial trauma in the wake of one family’s participation in a paranormal TV show. Throw a mysterious disappearance into the mix and you have the makings of a compelling trip. (Ghoulish; April 23, 2024)

“Zombie novels by Nobel laureates” isn’t a group that’s vast enough to fuel a Jeopardy! category—at least, not yet. But if this novel by Elfriede Jelinek (translated by Gitta Honegger), titled The Children of the Dead, is any indication, there’s plenty of room for the category to expand. Jelinek tells the story of a host of restless dead making their way towards a resort in Austria—and reckoning with the region’s troubled history. (Yale University Press; March 12, 2024)

Throughout his work to date, writer (and occasional contributor to this very website) Matthew Cheney has woven in and out of genres, exploring hidden histories along the way. His latest book, Changes in the Land, explores a secluded piece of land in New Hampshire that holds plenty of secrets—and more mysterious qualities as well. (Lethe Press; April 2024)

When on the run from law enforcement, it’s important to find the right place to hole up. There may be several options available, but if not, opting for the abandoned asylum might prove to be an error in judgment. That’s the conundrum faced by the characters in Sarah Hans’ Asylum—and if you suspect that the titular building might be hiding something very ominous, you might just be on to something. (Raw Dog Screaming Press; March 15, 2024)

File Under: Chilling Tales

The latest installment in Two Lines Press’ Calico series of highly focused anthologies is likely to appeal to many a reader of all things uncanny. Through the Night Like a Snake: Latin American Horror Stories features fiction by the likes of Mariana Enriquez, Mónica Ojeda, and Camila Sosa Villada—all of which should make for some restless nights. (Two Lines Press; March 12, 2024)

The title and subtitle of editor Sofia Ajram’s new anthology Bury Your Gays: An Anthology of Tragic Queer Horror gives you a sense of what to expect—as well as some of the tropes that this collection alludes to and upends. The fact that the lineup includes writings by Gretchen Felker-Martin, Cassandra Khaw, and Joe Koch marks this collection as one to watch. (Ghoulish; March 19, 2024)

The writings of both Kaaron Warren and Cat Sparks have been covered quite a lot in these pages. Now, the new book Calvaria Fell brings together stories written by each of them, including works new to the collection and some that have appeared elsewhere. Do you enjoy your weird fiction with a capital W? (Meerkat Press; April 30, 2024)

Last year, Alex Brown praised M. Lopes da Silva’s “What Ate the Angels”—and if that review piqued your interest, there’s now a full collection of da Silva’s work coming soon to a bookstore near you. Infinity Mathing at the Shore & Other Disruptions covers everything from surreal drugs to soul painting—reckoning with shifting landscapes, altered states of consciousness, and unlikely hauntings. (Weirdpunk Books; March 15, 2024)

There’s a lot that could be said about Paul Jessup—from the breadth of his fiction to his forays into poetry and nonfiction—to preface the news that he has a new collection out in March. But honestly,  The Skinless Man Counts to Five and other tales of the Macabre is just a world-class title, and one I’m honestly a little jealous of. (Underland Press; March 15, 2024)

Besides his impressive bibliography as an author of horror and uncanny fiction, Tim Waggoner has also written at length about the craft of writing itself. A different kind of creation is at the center of his new novel, Lord of the Feast, about an effort to create a new god that goes very, very wrong. Unsettling deities and embittered cultists do make for a memorable yarn. (Flame Tree Press; April 16, 2024)

File Under: Visions and Omens

In her latest book, Inés Gregori Labarta draws inspiration from the life of a sixth-century Irish saint, catapulting that life into a series of surreal and futuristic settings. The resulting novel, The Three Lives of St Ciarán, transports readers to a place where past and future interconnect in wholly expected (and often revelatory) ways. (Blackwater Press; April 15, 2024)

The biography of Charlotte Haldane—anti-fascist journalist, cohort of Paul Robeson, and feminist activist—would make for a fascinating read on its own. That shouldn’t minimize her fiction, however: her 1926 novel Man’s World is getting a new edition in March, and its tale of a futuristic society haunted by eugenics remains deeply relevant nearly a century after it was first published. (Radium Age/MIT Press; March 12, 2024)

Set in a slightly askew version of Massachusetts, Corey Farrenkopf’s novel Living in Cemeteries chronicles the life of a man dealing with conflicts among ghosts and ominous portents of the future. I don’t normally cite blurbs here, but in this case, Paul Tremblay’s description of it as “as though Wes Anderson novelized Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners” is too good to pass up. (Journalstone; April 2024)

Most ghost stories do not involve the revenants of acclaimed dancers. Then again, Nicolette Polek’s Bitter Water Opera is not most ghost stories. The protagonist of Polek’s novel is inspired by the life of dancer Marta Becket—and, eventually, by the spirit of Becket herself. It’s an unconventional take on life after death and the nature of inspiration.  (Graywolf Press; April 16, 2024)

The protagonist of Morgan Shamy’s novel The Stricken has a unique quality: she’s the only person in her town immune to a daily erasure of the town’s memories. That’s just the beginning of the surreal happenings here, which also involve parallel worlds and warring factions. (CamCat Books; March 5, 2024)

File Under: Dream Logic

An avant-garde writer who was put on trial for obscenity during her lifetime, Rachilde (aka Marguerite Vallette-Eymery) has experienced something of a resurgence in recent years. Last year saw the publication of a new edition of her novel The Princess of Darkness; this year, via Sue Boswell’s translation, we’re getting The Blood-Guzzler and Other Stories. These are the first time these stories have appeared in English translation; did we mention that one of them is called “The Blood-Guzzler”? (Snuggly Books; March 12, 2024)

In 2022, Christi Nogle won the Bram Stoker Award for her debut novel Beulah. This spring brings with it a collection compiling some of the best short fiction from her bibliography, titled One Eye Opened in That Other Place. If you’ve seen her awards or nominations—of which there are several—this is a great place to start with her work. (Flame Tree Press; March 12, 2024)

My first encounter with Evelio Rosero’s work came via the novel Toño the Infallible, a book where a sense of dread practically emerged from the page. His latest book to be published in the U.S.—via a translation by Anne McLean and Victor Meadowcroft—is Way Far Away, about a man visiting a surreal village in search of his lost granddaughter. What can readers expect? Well, in a 2010 interview, Rosero called it “a terrible dream, a nightmare we try to shake off with pain”—which sounds very enticing. (New Directions; March 5, 2024)

There’s a lot about Lynn Schmeidler’s collection Half-Lives that piques my interest, including acclaim from the likes of Matt Bell and Jonathan Lethem. Sabrina Orah Mark citing the likes of Shirley Jackson and Franz Kafka in her praise for it is also intriguing—as is the way the stories allude to everything from fairy tales to Airbnb. (Autumn House Press; March 29, 2024)

British Fantasy Awards nominee Shona Kinsella tells a story of a human navigating complex connections with a pair of gods in the new novel The Heart of Winter. It’s a welcome foray into mythology and folklore that takes its characters—and its readers—to unexpected places. (Flame Tree Press; April 16, 2024)

File Under: Exploring This World—and Beyond

In works of fiction, people have traveled to outer space in all sorts of strange craft; not to be outdone, the protagonist of one of Matthew Burnside’s stories makes her way to the stars in a bathtub. That’s just one of the ways the collection Centrifugal eludes easy classification and travels to unexpected realms. (Whiskey Tit; April 23, 2024)

How’s your knowledge of Bengali science fiction from the first half of the 20th century? If your answer to that is, “Not comprehensive, unfortunately,” don’t worry; editor and translator Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay is behind a new collection that makes for a great introduction to this moment in SF history. The centerpiece of The Inhumans and Other Stories: A Selection of Bengali Science Fiction is the title novella by Hemendrakumar Roy—but there’s more to be found within these covers, including voyages across the solar system. (Radium Age/MIT Press; March 12, 2024)

Sometimes trips to altered worlds can be invigorating; at others, they serve as cautionary tales. As the title of Bothayna Al-Essa’s The Book Censor’s Library (translated by Sawad Hussain and Ranya Abdelrahman) suggests, this one falls into the latter category. Al-Essa’s novel follows a censor employed by an authoritarian regime struggling with moral compromises and reckoning with their own place in the world. (Restless Books; April 2, 2024)

The seventh volume in J.L. Gribble’s Steel Empires series, Steel Legacy, blends combat magic, vampirism, and academia into a compelling whole. Set against a backdrop of magic and science, with empires at war, Gribble’s novel depicts a society in the midst of radical changes in countless ways. (Raw Dog Screaming Press; April 25, 2024) icon-paragraph-end

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