Small but Mighty

With the announcement late last year that Penguin Random House had made a deal to buy Simon and Schuster, the Big Five publishers will now likely narrow to just four. At this rate, it is entirely plausible that within the next few years we will have one amalgamated behemoth, Penguin-Random-Simon-Macmillan-Hachette-Harper-House, deciding which handful of authors get published.  And then, of course, that company will be acquired by Amazon and we'll be reading them exclusively on Kindles.

So to prepare for this potential mega-merger dystopia, now is the time to take a fresh look at small and independent presses. What they lack in market share, they more than make up for in diversity of thought and representation. It’s their very size that allows them to take chances on new authors and niche interests. Whether you enjoy lesbian mob romance, or modern aboriginal short stories, there's a world of unique perspectives coming out of small and independent presses. It just takes a keen eye (and maybe a friendly librarian) to spot these lower-visibility works.  Here are a few substantial new offerings from small presses:

THE TEMPLE HOUSE VANISHING by Rachel Donohue (Algonquin)
Irish writer Donahue's atmospheric debut explores unrequited love, obsession, and disappearance in an Irish boarding school… This stands among the best of the current modern gothic trend.” Publishers Weekly

“In a Gothic mansion in Ireland set upon a hill surrounded by forest and cliffsides, readers meet Louisa and her eccentric friend Victoria, students at Temple House boarding school… Atmospheric and suspenseful, this will be appreciated by fans of Kate Elizabeth Russell's My Dark Vanessa” Booklist

THE FALLEN by Ada Hoffmann (Angry Robot)
Fast-paced adventure and intricate double-crosses sweep through Hoffmann's magnificent sequel to The Outside, which digs deep into themes of impact, power, and good faith… a unique, nuanced must-read.” Publishers Weekly 

HER CONSIGLIERE by Carsen Taite (Bold Strokes Books)
With this sexy lesbian romance take on the mobster genre, Taite brings savvy, confidence, and glamour to the forefront without leaning into violence… This is sure to please.” Publishers Weekly

WATER HORSE by Melissa Scott (Candlemark & Gleam)
Sumptuous storytelling, well-defined characters, and superb attention to detail animate this outstanding epic fantasy… Scott crafts an elaborate, rousing narrative of shifting alliances and supernatural intrusions into the natural world while taking the time to establish deep, handsomely delineated relationships and nuanced LGBTQ characters.” Publishers Weekly

CONSTELLATIONS OF SCARS by Melissa Eskue Ousley (Midnight Tide Publishing)
In this novel, a sheltered young woman harboring a striking condition discovers the outside world may be as harsh as her repressive mother claims… An indelible story of loving yourself in a world of dreadful realities.” Kirkus

BIG DARK HOLE: AND OTHER STORIES by Jeffrey Ford (Small Beer Press)
Exacting language and well-drawn characters give these stories enough depth to satisfy both sci-fi/fantasy fans and literary fiction readers. Seamlessly blending the surreal with the mundane, Ford gives readers an innocuous ride to places they never knew they wanted to go.” Library Journal

“Fifteen tales of horror, suspense, and macabre encounters that recount moments when the fantastic finds a crack in our everyday world. Ford is a prolific writer with a shelf of well-deserved rewards for his novels, but short stories are his sweet spot.” Kirkus

ASSASSIN'S ORBIT by John Appel (Solaris/Rebellion)
A mass shooting in a luxurious social club sparks interplanetary conflict…  With solid, thoughtful representation in terms of religion, sexuality, and disability as well as race, gender, and age, this will be well worth the time of any reader looking for socially conscious hard sci-fi.” Publishers Weekly 

Spanning over three decades, these 21 short stories from Brin, best known for his Uplift universe novels, demonstrate the author's mastery of detailed worldbuilding in short-form works… The variety of plots on offer is matched by subtle, well-shaded characterizations. This is an impressive feat of speculation.” Publishers Weekly

BORN INTO THIS by Adam Thompson (Two Dollar Radio)
Thompson portrays a group of Aboriginal communities in Tasmania in his riveting debut collection…  Thompson's strengths are in his exquisite descriptions of nature as well as his memorable voice.” Publishers Weekly

-Ransom Jabara is a Collection Development Librarian at Lawrence Public Library.