Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lesser-Known Fantasy/Paranormal Authors I Love

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

I love to read SF, fantasy and paranormal romance. Many of my favourite authors in the genres are the big bestsellers that you’ve probably read (or at least heard of) yourself. In fantasy: Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, George R.R. Martin, Ilona Andrews, Brent Weeks, Seanan McGuire, Brandon Sanderson, Naomi Novik, Kevin Hearne, Faith Hunter,  Anne Bishop, Django Wexler, Diana Rowland, Kim Harrison. In SF: Lois McMaster Bujold, C.J. Cherryh. In paranormal romance: Nalini Singh, Darynda Jones, Thea Harrison, Karen Marie Moning, J.R. Ward. All of these authors are auto-buys for me.

But there are also many authors who are equally good, but are lesser known. Here are my top five:

1/ Wen Spencer  (SF and fantasy)

Okay, be warned, I’m probably going to gush here. 

The first Wen Spencer book I read was A Brother’s Price about a world where women vastly outnumber the men and thus men are the cossetted, protected ones in society, who are expected to stay virgin until they marry a group of sisters. Thought-provoking role reversal, a healthy dollop of romance, and action. Of course, I then had to buy her other novels.

Next I read (and have since reread and reread) her Ukiah Oregon novels: SF with super cool aliens and a sweet P.I. hero with an eidetic memory and awesome tracking skills (he was raised by wolves). Seriously. Read the first chapter of Alien Taste. You will be hooked. 

Then there’s her Tinker series. Tinker is an 18-year-old girl, a genius with mad inventing skills and a talent for trouble. It’s set in world where the city of Pittsburgh, through a temporal accident, is transferred to Elfhome every thirty days. Yes, really. Great characters, lots of action and magic. I LOVE this series.

2/ Carol Berg  (fantasy)

If some cretin tries to tell you only men write awesome epic fantasy, shove some Carol Berg books in their face.

The first book I read by her was The Song of the Beast. The shattered hero has just been released from jail after a seven-year-sentence of silence—and he still doesn’t know what crime he committed. My heart ached for him—and then we find out why he was imprisoned, plus another twist that blew my mind.

Next I moved on to her Rai-Kirah trilogy. Book one Transformation features a hero who has been stripped of his magic and enslaved. Bad enough, and then Seyonne realizes a demon is trying to take over his arrogant master. High tension and the ending was bang-on perfect.

Her latest series duet Dust and Light/ Ash and Silver were both 5 star reads for me.

3/ Diana Pharaoh Francis

The first book I read by her was Bitter Night, first of the Horngate Witches series. In a sea of new urban fantasy books with kickass heroines, Max still stood out. I love the concept of the witches’ Shadowblades and Sunspears. The whole series is excellent.

More recent is her Diamond City Magic series which has its own unique setting--a mob-run city high in the snowy mountains—and very cool magic. Plus a sizzling romantic subplot. The perfect blend of UF and PNR.

4/ Rachel Aaron (fantasy) who also writes as Rachel Bach (SF)

The first Rachel Aaron book I read was The Spirit Thief. I was immediately hooked by the first scene in which Eli Monpress, the roguish thief hero, escapes prison by convincing the door that it’s underappreciated. Yes, the door. Cool magic, fascinating characters—not just Eli whose ambition it is to have a $1,000,000 price on his head—but his partners, a legendary swordsman and a girl being consumed by a demonseed. The series starts off quite light, but by books 4 & 5 has a more epic plot.

Her latest Heartstriker’s series about “nice” dragon Julius is in the same vein: fun, high-action, and inventive magic in an UF setting. Bob (a dragon seer) and his pigeon alone make these books worth reading. Go buy them!

Rachel also is well-known for her blog (Pretentious Title) about writing and her 2K to 10K book.

5/ Shannon K. Butcher (paranormal romance)

She also writes romantic suspense, but it’s her paranormal romance series The Sentinel Wars that have me hooked. Noble warriors who are dying out plus modern women and plenty of demon-fighting. Mmmm. Book one is Burning Alive. I am going to be so bummed if this series has been cut off.

And yes, she is the wife of Jim Butcher.

Huh. This list seems to be all women… Okay I’ll add one bonus guy:

6/ D.B. Jackson/David Coe

I heard David Coe talk at a panel at When Words Collide and decided to try some of his books. While I am enjoying his Justis Fearsson UF series, it’s his fast-paced historical fantasy Thieftaker series that he writes as D.B. Jackson that has really grabbed me. Set in Boston prior to the War for Independence (do I have that right? Canadian here) it combines mystery, magic and history, making for a heck of a ride. And the villain is female.

I could easily come up with five more (Tanya Huff, Gini Koch, Laura Resnick, K.A. Stewart, Leigh Evans—see?) but I’m out of space. Who are some of your lesser-known favorites?


  1. I discovered Gini Koch just recently and have been wondering how/why I didn't find her sooner. Her books are so much fun!

  2. Gini Koch's alien books are great! I went on a major glom of them last year and am now impatiently waiting for Alien Nation to come out in December.

  3. Autumn Dawn. She self-publishes, and I love all her books.

  4. The Raksura books from Martha Wells are phenomenal. The world building is intricate and detailed, just like the characters.
    G.A. Aiken has an awesome Dragon Kin series which I adore. Although, to be honest, I love the things she writes as Shelly Laurenston too. The humor is fantastic!

    1. Agreed--Shelly Laurenston's over-the-top PNR books are hilarious. I shall have to take a look for the Martha Wells series, I haven't read any of hers yet.

    2. Okay, now I've read Martha Wells and agree she is awesome. Loved Murderbot and Raksura and am slowly acquiring her entire backlist.

  5. I absolutely adore Carol Berg's books. So glad to find another fan! The Flesh and Spirit/Breath and Bone duology (same world as Dust and Light/Ash and Silver) are my favorites.

    An indie author I enjoy that you might like is Pauline M. Ross. Unconventional epic fantasy with strong heroines.

  6. I love Diana Pharaoh Francis, Rachel Bach and Tanya Huff, so I'll have to give a couple of the others a try. I'd recommend Grace Draven (fantastic fantasy romance), Jenn Bennett (I love her Arcadia Bell series) and Suzanne Johnson/Susannah Sandlin (she writes the Sentinels of New Orleans UF series and the Penton Vampires PNR series).

  7. All three are new to me! Thanks for sharing them. I love these genres.

  8. Sharon Ashwood. The dark forgotten series is amazing. Paranormal romance with a plot
    Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. All their books.
    Ann Bishop. All her books.
    Nancy Collins Sunglasses after dark.
    Grace Draven Eidolon
    Steven Gould Start with Wildside
    James Hetley The Summer country
    Catherine Kimbriel All her books.
    Marjorie Liu. Start with the Iron Hunt

  9. Just finished reading Trace of Magic trilogy by Diana Pharaoh Francis....loved it....starting on the Path trilogy now!


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