Underwords has an all new batch of sample chapters and excerpts from some amazing authors, editors, and publishers in October’s Free Fiction Sampler. The purpose of the Samplers is to reunite readers with authors they love as well as to introduce them to authors they haven’t yet met. We invite you to dip into a chapter, or two, or even to try them all!
October’s Sampler contains 25 authors as well as excerpts and chapters from 30 different books. Feel free to browse, read the book blurbs, visit their websites, and access the samples. Above all, we hope you find new books and authors to love. Looking for more samples? Be sure to check out the other Free Fiction Samplers. Enjoy!
Note: All samples and excerpts have been provided with the express permission of the authors and/or the publishers listed. Each sample contains three links:
- The author’s name will take you to his/her website,
- The book’s title will take you to the sample chapter or excerpt, and
- The book’s cover will take you to an online store where you can purchase the book.
- Brave New Worlds – YOU ARE BEING WATCHED! When the government wields its power against its own people, every citizen becomes an enemy of the state. Will you fight the system, or be ground to dust beneath the boot of tyranny? In his smash-hit anthologies Wastelands and The Living Dead, acclaimed editor John Joseph Adams showed you what happens when society is utterly wiped away. Now he brings you a glimpse into an equally terrifying future — what happens when civilization invades and dictates every aspect of your life? From 1984 to The Handmaid’s Tale, from Children of Men to Bioshock, the dystopian imagination has been a vital and gripping cautionary force. Brave New Worlds collects 33 of the best tales of totalitarian menace by some of today’s most visionary writers.
- The Way of the Wizard – Power. We all want it, they’ve got it – witches, warlocks, sorcerers, necromancers, those who peer beneath the veil of mundane reality and put their hands on the levers that move the universe. They see the future in a sheet of glass, summon fantastic beasts, and transform lead into gold… or you into a frog. From Gandalf to Harry Potter to the Last Airbender, wizardry has never been more exciting and popular. Enter a world where anything is possible, where imagination becomes reality. Experience the thrill of power, the way of the wizard. Now acclaimed editor John Joseph Adams (The Living Dead) brings you thirty-two of the most spellbinding tales ever written, by some of today’s most magical talents, including Neil Gaiman, Simon R. Green, and George R. R. Martin.
- Captain Nemo – When Andre Nemo’s father dies suddenly, the young adventurer takes to the sea and is accompanied by his lifetime friend, Jules Verne. Verne is thwarted in his yearning for action, while Nemo continues across the continents. Years pass, and he is feared dead. Far from lost, however, Nemo criss-crosses the globe. He discovers the lost city of Timbuktu, the hidden land at the centre of the earth, and is marooned on the uncharted mysterious island. He faces bloodthirsty pirates, prehistoric monsters, Arab slavers, and serves in the British cavalry against the Russians in the charge of the Light Brigade. Against all odds he survives, and becomes the captain of the futuristic vessel know as the Nautilus.
- Fox and Phoenix – The king of Lóng City is dying. For Kai Zōu, the news means more than it does for most former street rats in the small mountain stronghold, because he and the king’s daughter are close friends. Then the majestic ruler of the ghost dragons orders Kai to travel across the country to the Phoenix Empire, where the princess is learning statecraft. Kai and his best friend Yún must endure a grueling trek, placate a persnickety griffin, and navigate layers of danger and court intrigue to help the princess escape and return to Lóng City. A refreshing mixture of magic, wit, and action, Fox and Phoenix is an auspicious YA debut! Based on the short story “Pig, Crane, Fox.”
- Bearers of the Black Staff: Legends of Shannara – Five hundred years have passed since the devastating demon-led war tore apart the United States and nearly exterminated humankind. Those who escaped the carnage were led to sanctuary in an idyllic valley, its borders warded by powerful magic against the horrors beyond. But the cocoon of protective magic surrounding the valley has now vanished. When Sider Ament, the only surviving descendant of the Knights of the Word, detects unknown predators stalking the valley, he fears the worst. And when expert Trackers find two of their own gruesomely killed, there can be no doubt: The once safe haven has been made vulnerable to whatever still lurks in the outside wasteland. Together, Ament, the two young Trackers, and a daring Elf princess spearhead plans to defend their ancestral home. And in the thick of it all, the last wielder of the black staff and its awesome magic must find a successor to carry on the fight against the cresting new wave of evil. Included by permission of SUVUDU, a member of Random House Inc., from Bearers of the Black Staff: Legends of Shannara by Terry Brooks.
- Circle of Enemies – Former car thief Ray Lilly is now the expendable grunt of a sorcerer responsible for destroying extradimensional predators summoned to our world by power-hungry magicians. Luckily, Ray has some magic of his own, and so far it’s kept him alive. But when a friend from his former gang calls him back to his old stomping grounds in Los Angeles, Ray may have to face a threat even he can’t handle. A mysterious spell is killing Ray’s former associates, and they blame him. Worse yet, the spell was cast by Wally King, the sorcerer who first dragged Ray into the brutal world of the Twenty Palace Society. Now Ray will have to choose between the ties of the past and the responsibilities of the present, as he and the Society face not only Wally King but a bizarre new predator. Included by permission of SUVUDU, a member of Random House Inc., from Circle of Enemies by Harry Connolly.
- Rage – An action-packed adventure based on the award-winning videogame from id Software, the creators of DOOM® and QUAKE®,Ragefollows one man’s fight to save the future of humanity in a ravaged, post-apocalyptic world. The asteroid Apophis has annihilated Earth, and only a small percentage of humanity’s best and brightest have been saved. Buried deep below the ground in life-sustaining Arks, these chosen few are tasked with one vital mission—to restore civilization to a devastated planet hundreds of years after the impact. When Lieutenant Nick Raine emerges from his Ark, he finds a future indistinguishable from nightmare. Humankind has not been entirely destroyed on the surface world, and a primitive new society has emerged in which life is nasty, brutish, and short. Mutants and bandits prey upon the weak, and a mysterious military group known as the Authority preys upon everyone. Worst of all, a would-be tyrant seeks to impose his will upon the shattered planet. Armed with nothing more than his combat training and survival instincts, Raine must rise to meet the challenges of the wasteland. Included by permission of SUVUDU, a member of Random House Inc., from Rage by Matthew Costello.
- Blood and Other Cravings – When we think of vampires, instantly the image arises: fangs sunk deep into the throat of the victim. But bloodsucking is merely one form of vampirism. For this brilliantly original anthology, Ellen Datlow has commissioned stories from many of the most powerfully dark voices in contemporary horror, who conjure tales of vampirism that will chill readers to the marrow. In addition to the traditional fanged vampires, Datlow presents stories about the leeching of emotion, the draining of the soul, and other dark deeds of predation and exploitation, infestation, and evisceration…tales of life essence, literal or metaphorical, stolen. Seventeen stories, by such award-winning authors as Elizabeth Bear, Richard Bowes, Kathe Koja, Margo Lanagan, Carol Emshwiller, and Lisa Tuttle will petrify readers. With dark tales by Laird Barron, Barry Malzberg and Bill Pronzini, Kaaron Warren, and other powerful voices, this anthology will redefine the terror of vampires and vampirism.
- The Sacred Band – With the first two books in the Acacia Trilogy, Acacia and The Other Lands, David Anthony Durham has created a vast and engrossing canvas of a world in turmoil, where the surviving children of a royal dynasty are on a quest to realize their fates—and perhaps right ancient wrongs once and for all. As The Sacred Band begins, one of them, Queen Corinn, bestrides the world as a result of her mastery of spells found in the ancient Book of Elenet. Her younger brother, Dariel, has been sent on a perilous mission to the Other Lands, while her sister, Mena, travels to the far north to confront an invasion of the feared race of the Auldek. Their separate trajectories will converge in a series of world-shaping, earth-shattering battles, all rendered with vividly imagined detail and in heroic scale.
- Shadowbridge – Sprung from a timeless dream, Shadowbridge is a world of linked spans arching high above glittering seas. It is a world of parading ghosts, inscrutable gods, and dangerous magic. Most of all, it is a world of stories. No one knows those stories better than Leodora, a young shadow-puppeteer who travels Shadowbridge collecting the intertwining tales and myths of each place she passes through, then retells them in performances whose genius has begun to attract fame . . . and less welcome attention. For Leodora is fleeing a violent past, as are her two companions: her manager, Soter, an elderly drunkard who also served Ledora’s father, the legendary puppeteer Bardsham; and Diverus, her musical accompanist, a young man who has been blessed, and perhaps cursed, by the touch of a nameless god. Now, as the strands of a destiny she did not choose begin to tighten around her, Leodora is about to cross the most perilous bridge of all–the one leading from the past to the future.
- The Monster’s Corner – An all original anthology from some of today’s hottest supernatural writers, featuring stories of monsters from the monster’s point of view. In most stories we get the perspective of the hero, the ordinary, the everyman, but we are all the hero of our own tale, and so it must be true for legions of monsters, from Lucifer to Mordred, from child-thieving fairies to Frankenstein’s monster and the Wicked Witch of the West. From our point of view, they may very well be horrible, terrifying monstrosities, but of course they won’t see themselves in the same light, and their point of view is what concerns us in these tales. Demons and goblins, dark gods and aliens, creatures of myth and legend, lurkers in darkness and beasts in human clothing…these are the subjects of The Monster’s Corner.
- The Uncertain Places – An ages-old family secret breaches the boundaries between reality and magic in this fresh retelling of a classic fairy tale. When Berkeley student Will Taylor is introduced to the mysterious Feierabend sisters, he quickly falls for enigmatic Livvy, a chemistry major and accomplished chef. But Livvy’s family—vivacious actress Maddie, family historian Rose, and their mother, absent-minded Sylvia—are behaving strangely. The Feierabend women seem to believe that luck is their handmaiden, even though happiness does not necessarily follow. It is soon discovered that generations previous, the Feierabends made a contract with a powerful, otherworldly force, and it is up to Will and his best friend to unravel the riddle of this supernatural bargain in order to save Livvy from her predestined fate.
- Beta Test – Sam Terra is having a bad week. He lost Molly, the woman he secretly loves, when she vanished before his eyes at the exact same time that ten percent of the inhabitants of Earth disappeared. Naturally upset, Sam follows clues about the global vanishing with questionable help from his friends including a misanthropic co-worker and a childhood pal. When Molly reappears in the body of a man during a night of monster-laden devastation, Sam finally learns the truth. Not just about her, but about the planet Earth and the entire cosmos surrounding it. What we consider mundane reality, others consider a game…and not a very good one. The whole thing is about to be shut down.
- The Magician King – The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges. Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent’s house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from The Magician King by Lev Grossman. Copyright © 2011 by Lev Grossman.
- Halloween – Shivers and spirits…the mystical and macabre…our darkest fears and sweetest fantasies…the fun and frivolity of tricks, treats, festivities, and masquerades. Halloween is a holiday filled with both delight and dread, beloved by youngsters and adults alike. Celebrate the most magical season of the year with this sensational treasury of seasonal tales—spooky, suspenseful, terrifying, or teasing—harvested from a multitude of master storytellers.
- Ruling Passion – Meet the Drakes, a darkly romantic, irresistibly alluring family of royal vampire blood. Bind up contains: Hearts at Stake, Blood Feud, and Out for Blood. Previously published separately as The Drake Chronicles.
- Hearts at Stake – On Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black—agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family. Luckily she has her own secret weapon—her human best friend Lucy—who is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life—Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black—in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart.
- Blood Feud – It’s been centuries since Isabeau St. Croix barely survived the French Revolution. Now she’s made her way back to the living and she must face the ultimate test by confronting the evil British lord who left her for dead the day she turned into a vampire. That’s if she can control her affection for Logan Drake, a vampire whose bite is as sweet as the revenge she seeks. The clans are gathering for Helena’s royal coronation as the next vampire queen, and new alliances are beginning to form now that the old rifts of Lady Natasha’s reign have started to heal. But with a new common enemy, Leander Montmarte—a vicious leader who hopes to force Solange to marry him and usurp the power of the throne for himself—the clans must stand together to preserve the peace he threatens to destroy.
- Out for Blood – Hunter Wild is the youngest in a long line of elite vampire hunters, a legacy that is both a blessing and a curse at the secret Helios-Ra Academy, where she excels at just about everything. Thanks to her friendship with Kieran Black, Hunter receives a special invitation to attend the coronation of Helena Drake, and for the first time, she sees the difference between vampires that must be hunted and vampires that can become friends-or even more. When students at the academy fall victim to a mysterious illness, Hunter suspects they are under attack from within. She will need someone she can trust to help her save the future of Helios-Ra . . . help that shockingly comes in the form of Quinn Drake, a drop-dead gorgeous vampire. Who said senior year would be easy?
- Damned – There is a fine line between love and sacrifice… Antonio would do anything for his beloved fighting partner Jenn. He protects her, even suppresses his vampire cravings to be with her. Together, they defend humanity against the Cursed Ones. But tensions threaten to fracture their hunting team and his loyalty—his love—is called into question. Jenn, the newly appointed Hunter, aches for revenge against the Cursed One who converted her sister. And with an even more sinister power on the rise, she must overcome her personal vendettas to lead her team into battle. Antonio and Jenn need each other to survive, but evil lurks at every turn. With humanity’s fate hanging in the balance, they must face down the darkness…or die trying.
- Unleashed – Katelyn McBride’s life changed in an instant when her mother died. Uprooted from her California home, Katelyn was shipped to the middle of nowhere, Arkansas, to her only living relative, her grandfather. And now she has to start over in Wolf Springs, a tiny village in the Ozark Mountains. Like any small town, Wolf Springs has secrets. But the secrets hidden here are more sinister than Katelyn could ever imagine. It’s a town with a history that reaches back centuries, spans continents, and conceals terrifying truths. And Katelyn McBride is about to change everything. Broken families, ageless grudges, forced alliances, and love that blooms in the darkest night—welcome to Wolf Springs.
- Endurance – Green is back in Copper Downs. Purchased from her father in sunny Selistan when she was four years old, she was harshly raised to be a courtesan, companion, and bedmate of the Immortal Duke of Copper Downs. But Green rebelled. Green killed the Duke, and many others, and won her freedom. Yet she is still claimed by the gods and goddesses of her world, and they still require her service. Their demands are greater than any duke’s could have been. Godslayers have come to the Stone Coast, magicians whose cult is dedicated to destroying the many gods of Green’s world. In the turmoil following the Immortal Duke’s murder, Green made a God out of her power and her memories. Now the gods turn to her to protect them from the Slayers.
- Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters – Monsters: As old as the oldest of stories, as new as our latest imaginings. From the ancient stone corridors of the labyrinth to the graffitied alleyways of the contemporary metropolis, they stalk the shadows. Leering from the darkness of the forest, jostling for space in our closets, they walk, crawl, creep and scuttle through our nightmares. Close as the clutter under the bed or waiting just the other side of the mirror, they are our truest companions. Creatures! The best monster fiction from the past thirty years offers a wide variety of the best monster tales–including three original stories–from speculative fiction’s most relevant names and hottest newcomers including Clive Barker, Sarah Langan, Joe R. Lansdale, Kelly Link, China Miéville, and Cherie Priest.
- The Devil’s Eye (An Alex Benedict Novel #4) – Interstellar antiquities dealer Alex Benedict and his assistant Chase Kolpath travel to the most remote of human worlds and uncover a secret connected to a decades-old political upheaval-a secret that somebody desperately wants hidden.
- Wayfinder – Lara Jansen is a truthseeker, gifted—or cursed—with the magical ability to tell honesty from lies. Once she was a tailor in Boston, but now she has crossed from Earth to the Barrow-lands, a Faerie world embroiled in a bloody civil war between Seelie and Unseelie. Armed with an enchanted and malevolent staff which seeks to bend her to its dark will, and thrust into a deadly realm where it’s hard to distinguish friend from foe, Lara is sure of one thing: her love for Dafydd ap Caerwyn, the Faerie prince who sought her help in solving a royal murder and dousing the flames of war before they consumed the Barrow-lands. But now Dafydd is missing, perhaps dead, and the Barrow-lands are closer than ever to a final conflagration. Lara has no other choice: she must harness the potent but perilous magic of the staff and her own truthseeking talents, blazing a path to a long-forgotten truth—a truth with the power to save the Barrow-lands or destroy them. Included by permission of SUVUDU, a member of Random House Inc., from Wayfinder by C.E. Murphy.
- The Bible Repairman – Gathering darkly fantastic short fiction previously available only in limited editions, this collection explores the mysteries of souls—whether they are sacrificed on the pinnacle of Mount Parnassus or lodged in a television cable box. In a Kabbalistic tale of transformation, the executor of an old friend’s will is almost duped into housing his soul. In a tale of time travel between 2015 and 1975, a tragedy sparked by an angel falling onto a pizza shop is reenacted—and the event is barely, but fatally, altered. The cornerstone of the collection is a postscript to the harrowing novel of the haunting of the Romantic poets, The Stress of Her Regard. Once Byron and Shelley break free of the succubus that claimed them, their associate, Trelawny, forges an alliance with Greek rebels to reestablish the deadly connection between man and the nephilim. Fans of Powers’s renowned secret histories will delight as he deftly weaves an array of fantastical creatures into richly layered narratives of the past.
- Hell Bent – Vampire thief Raylene Pendle doesn’t need more complications in her life. Her Seattle home is already overrun by a band of misfits, including Ian Stott, a blind vampire, and Adrian deJesus, an ex-Navy SEAL/drag queen. But Raylene still can’t resist an old pal’s request: seek out and steal a bizarre set of artifacts. Also on the hunt is a brilliant but certifiably crazy sorceress determined to stomp anyone who gets in her way. But Raylene’s biggest problem is that the death of Ian’s vaunted patriarch appears to have made him the next target of some blood-sucking sociopaths. Now Raylene must snatch up the potent relics, solve a murder, and keep Ian safe—all while fending off a psychotic sorceress. But at least she won’t be alone. A girl could do a lot worse for a partner than an ass-kicking drag queen—right? Included by permission of SUVUDU, a member of Random House Inc., from Hellbent by Cherie Priest.
- The Freedom Maze – In 1960, thirteen-year-old Sophie isn’t happy about spending summer at her grandmother’s old house in the Bayou. But the house has a maze Sophie can’t resist exploring once she finds it has a secretive and playful inhabitant. When Sophie, bored and lonely, makes an impulsive wish inspired by her reading, hoping for a fantasy adventure of her own, she slips one hundred years into the past, to the year 1860. On her arrival she makes her way, bedraggled and tanned, to what will one day be her grandmother’s house, where she is at once mistaken for a slave.
- Closet – It seemed to be an innocent looking book that John picked up from the local bookstore, but late that night, as he read it in the secret of his closet, a creature emerged. Then with arms extended strangled the life out of him, leaving behind Megan and their baby Derek. But as Megan was leaving the house, two other forms attempted to kill her as well. The mysterious creatures were silent for the next two decades and Derek even managed to get married and start a family with a mentally disabled son. He went to seminary and was starting to look for a job. But after receiving multiple rejections, Derek was at the bottom of despair. Then after a chance encounter with a witch, he picked up a book from the sidewalk that seemed to have all the answers he needed in life. Later that evening, as Derek was reading the book, there was a noise from the closet, and a door was opened to a demonic dimension that a local witch uses to take his mentally disabled son and wife into. Derek then enters the same dimension to save the ones he loves. Along the way he confronts the evil in his own life through the help of the Holy Spirit, who shows up in seven different human forms depending on the situation. After dealing with his own weaknesses Derek has to win back his wife, and confront the two creatures that plagued his parents.
- To Sleep Gently – When career criminal Jack Dempster gets caught and put away for five years in prison, he finds time to seriously reconsider his chosen line of work. Before he can make any serious decision, some old acquaintances track him down with a proposal. They want him to go to Santa Fe, New Mexico. With the help of an inside man, he’s to lead a small group of professionals on a daring robbery of the El Dorado Hotel, one of the finest, and most secure establishments in the Southwest. Double-crosses, love triangles, and immersion in his own self-destructive past conspire to lead him to ruin. It’s not easy to sleep when searching for normalcy in the heart of a brutal past.