Derby 2021 – The Books

The Inkfort Press Publishing Derby is now live! If you’re new here and would like a refresher about what the Derby is, take a look here!

The Books!


Fantasy



Ursula must perfect an ancient dance in order to acquire untold amounts of treasure with the help of her old lover, Lothario (who happens to share the same name as her black cat).

Find A Dance Among the Stars here!


Maria served dutifully until the star fell.

The order of the arbiters had been the only life she’d known, bound together in the service of Christ. The first woman ever on the cusp of ordination, only for the world to fall in pieces around her. A scholar in prison, speculating on the nature of God. A mysterious stranger, offering help that leads to as much tragedy as enlightenment. A bizarre illness, slowly spreading across the Spanish city of Alghuruba. All emerged with a falling star, burning its way down towards the earth.

Now her duties clash with knowledge mortals were never meant to understand, and Maria must ask herself a potentially disastrous question:

Is her justice and its truth worth the abandonment of everything she’s strived for?

Find The Arbiter here!


To go into The Next Horizon is to venture into a vast, barren void that few have returned from. Exactly what Deidre wants to do.

Seeking to disappear, Deidre joined the three-person crew of the SS Light Winds. Their goal, to find the SS Storm Shaker, part of the Karrack Expedition, the greatest fleet of airships to ever disappear into the Next Horizon.

Yet, in questing for her own death, Deidre is confronted by the cryptic crew of the Light Winds. There’s the chatty Anna Cutter, who seems to be struggling with something. There’s the mysterious Captain Matthias who seems to know far too much about his crewmates. They have their own reasons for going on this dangerous adventure, and these might just be a greater mystery than that of the Storm Shaker’s disappearance.

Find Beyond the Next Horizon here!


Jack used to be one of the best Spinners in the business. Able to open and close pathways to lost fairy tales, he and his team were a well oiled machine.

Until they ended up in a reality that wasn’t as abandoned as they thought.
Until their survival depended on him leaving someone behind.
Until he lost the way back.
Now, years later, he has a chance to return. To find the missing member of their team. To heal his family.

To do that, he’ll have to get past the monster waiting for him. Harder, he’ll have to convince the team to make the attempt.

If he can manage both, he gains the world. If he can’t, he loses everything that matters to him, for good.

Find Brambles and Briars here, or on other retailers!


At the edge of the world sits the great tree through which all magic flows, and Beira– once the Magistra of Aird, now an old woman– is its caretaker. It is a lonely life, with none but the stories of the previous caretakers, carved into ancient menhir, to keep her company. But when the menhir start going dark and the color of magic turns to void, it is up to her to safeguard a strange child that seems to hold the answer in her song to Carrickeep, where they might prevent the world’s unraveling.

Find Chromatia here!


All magic comes from the Citadel.

As a child, Adela dreamed of going to the Citadel and becoming a mage, though the reality of her parents’ deaths made that dream a farfetched fantasy. When the caretakers at the orphanage discover her latent magical talent, she is given the opportunity to join the Citadel. Adela leaps at the chance. Power, wealth, prestige — she would have it all.

There is no fire without fuel, however, and magic is not without its price. The Citadel keeps many secrets within its ancient halls, many things it is willing to do in the name of the greater good. As Adela grows from pupil to mage, she will soon discover that there are costs she is unwilling to pay.

But the choice may no longer be hers.

Find The Citadel at the End of the World here!


What would you sacrifice to be remembered forever?

Moses Santiago owes money to the Bernetti family. The Queen’s henchmen would like a word with him about his loyalties. His career is in the gutter—and don’t even get him started on his love life.

Fortunately, Santiago is used to being in over his head. He’s a Wayfarer, an explorer that risks his life in search of fame and fortune. Together with his protégé Noemi Saldaña, Santiago is going to sail across the ocean for one final adventure, a journey to the final blank spot on the map: Verrazano’s Coast. If they can open a passage to the legendary island, all of their problems will go away.

There is one small problem, however. The Coast has sent countless explorers to their graves—including Santiago’s own adopted father. Explorers know that reaching the island is impossible.

But Santiago has never let the word impossible slow him down before.

He’ll risk everything for a shot at discovering what lies beyond the mists. Because Verrazano’s Coast hides a secret—and that secret is going to change the world.

Find Clear Skies, Clear Heart here!


Rejoice, rejoice, a prince is born,
A gift upon us all.
Our prayers, our hopes, our dreams come true,
Now come and heed the call.

Lament, lament, a prince is born,
A curse upon this age.
Now steel your soul and whet your blade,
For coming war we’ll wage.

Oh wail, oh wail, a prince is born,
A bane upon this land.
Now cower, quake, or else t’will be
Your blood that coats his hand.

I come to you with tales to tell
And choruses to sing,
Of Carrow, Crow, of Smoke and Salt,
And of the Shadow King.

Four tyrannies so rule this land,
Four ways to bend the knee,
But in our plight so came the man
That dared to set us free.

And so begins the single life,
That heralds coming war.
Rejoice, lament, oh wail, oh wail,
The Crow King’s Son is born.

The Crow King’s Son is a short epic poem in ten choruses for lovers of poetry and fantasy alike. Whether you’re a poet yourself, a fan of this ancient form of storytelling, or have never read a line of verse in your life, this poem is for you.

Find The Crow King’s Son here!


Kasimir Yadmic has a slight isekai problem.
Every time he finishes a quest, his malfunctioning power-retention system throws him into a new world without giving him any choice in where he ends up.

Kas is tired of being shuffled from world to world. At first he hoped to find his way back home, but by now he’d settle for being able to stay in one place. But when his faithful dragon-cat Miri is kidnapped, Kas will do anything necessary to find her and get her back.

Settling down will have to wait.

Find Exit Point here!


Davee is a Flier. It is her deepest joy in life, the most important part of her. She may be a fighter, a soldier, by profession, but that is what she does, not what she is.

The day has come, when she will say goodbye to her soulmate, the giant raven Ryn. In mere hours, she will be alone, bereft of everything that matters to her.

Little does she expect that the day will bring even darker changes than that. Betrayal is in the air and Davee will have to fly or die.

Find Flightmaster Ryn here!


Do what ye will, an’ harm ye none. The only law that magical beings need to follow.

The Elder Council has tasked Lead Enforcer Mathilda Forsythe and her team to keep this law. When incomplete magic circles start cropping up, it is up to Mathilda to find out what they summon and who is distributing them, and why. With whispers of even darker magic coming in from the very edges of the realm, and the council in disarray, she must race to stem the tide of chaos before all is lost.

Is the darker magic affecting the Elder Council’s ability to communicate? Will she be able to find the one breaking the only law in time?

Find Forbidden Arts here!



Evil stirs in the forest of Downing, spreading blight across the ancient boughs. Busy with troubles of her own, Maud the village witch just wants to be left alone. Peace and quiet should be easy enough when you’re dead, right?

Wrong.


Reborn as a powerful lich, Maud is suddenly faced with the attentions of all the righteous heroes, holy clerics, and nosy neighbours of the realm. Now instead of whiling away the days in her garden with her cat and her knitting, Maud must figure out how much force is required to crush a man’s spine, the proper storage solution to keep a spoiling cadaver, and how best to display the remains of the fallen for maximum scare.


Featuring people mulch, head bouquets, revenant geese, and some very deadly embroidery, undead paradise never looked so good.

Find Liches get Stitches here!
Trigger warning: gore and violence.


The bond between fae and owl is sacred.

In a magical ancient forest hidden from humans, young Oisin prepares to join the elusive ranks of the Midnight People – like his father before him.

But with a fear of heights and a kindly disposition, he is refused the chance to attempt the trials by the fae leaders. Unwilling to break his vow to his dying father and determined to become an owl rider, he turns to an unlikely source for help.

Willing to risk everything to keep his promise, Oisin will have to learn to trust the owls more than himself if he is to have a chance at joining the Midnight People.

The Midnight People is an uplifting short story, perfect for fans of fairy tales and folklore fantasy.

Find The Midnight People here!


Music is one hell of a drug.

Blake knew from the start this was a bad idea. But when your best friend is insistent on doing something stupid, you don’t leave him twisting in the wind. But going into the darkness, where the shadow beasts lurk to bring death is madness. Doing it to get a guitar is nearly suicide.

When Blake and Dustin find the guitar in question, it sounds like nothing they’ve experienced before, and playing it is ecstasy. The music seems to calm the shadow beasts, but as they play it more, it’s like they can hear the creatures talking in their heads. The magic makes them faster, stronger, and with every strum of the guitar, the two grow further apart.

Somehow, the music that soothed the savage beasts created one far worse. And if Blake doesn’t find a way to get his best friend back, the beasts may destroy them both.

Find Music Soothes the Shadow Beasts here!


Life on the high seas isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Stuck on a giant city-ship which travels a flooded world, Xavier Sterling would kill for a more exciting life. He gets his wish when a giant monster attacks the only home he’s ever known. Through the power of an ancient artifact, he is anointed as a member of The Obsidian Vanguard, an organization dedicated to keeping the galaxy’s kaiju population under control.

With the help of a jaded mentor and a giant robot that doesn’t care about the laws of physics, he’ll have to fend off an onslaught of city-destroying monsters.

Find The Obsidian Vanguard here!


Natalie’s entire life was turned upside down when she was attacked by a werewolf one fateful night.

The lone survivor of a serial killer, Natalie finds herself thrust into the center of a supernatural mystery. She finds new friends and allies, but struggles with the knowledge that her attacker is hiding amongst them. Before she can even finish adjusting, she finds herself called to compete in the Pack-Lord’s Hunt: a series of deadly trials to win gifts from their god.

Magic mixes with the mundane as Natalie tries to fit in with her new magical life. Can she survive the coming Hunt, or will she crack under the pressure?

Find The Pack-Lord’s Hunt here!


Ilia has never feared the sea.

But when her sister vanishes on a clear night under a river of stars known as the Quiet, Ilia is the only person in her village who believes Adana is still alive. To find the truth, Ilia will wade into the ancient lore of her people armed only with her childhood journal, her wits, and a trio of enchanted relics that have lost their magic. Adana is out there somewhere—but so are the mythical, fearsome beings who dwell in the deep.

A second-world fairy tale about believing in magic after we’ve grown up and about healing the old wounds that haunt us.

This book is written in British English and includes relative diction.

Find The Quiet here!


The River Aeon is a literal river of magic, one that confers a new life, immortality, and magical powers onto humans in a package deal called a Concept. The first of these Concepts, a hiker, became the Concept of Thought. They created life, and the City where all Concepts live, safe from the dying world outside.
But in the middle of being human and being a Concept is a limbo, for the Aeon’s magic does not say what the name of the Concept given is, and without the name, a Concept can not grow. One of these Concepts has been in limbo for two thousand years, as long as they can remember, but does not care. Because as a Concept, they don’t have to eat or move, and so can daydream as much as they like—which is for years.
This year, a human called Willow shows up and claims vengeance for wrongs they don’t believe have been committed. She does so by destroying the one thing they love more than their daydreams and stealing their magic, leaving them with weeks to live. And their Concept name is coming for them whether they like it or not, leaving them with more problems.
Will they learn to survive without their magic and daydreams, and avenge their loss? Or will their Concept magic unlock a new path to peace?

Find River Aeon here!


A bullet in the back isn’t the only thing you should fear in the old west.

Demons, magic, and mayhem ensue as the battle for the west begins. Sage, an unordinary gunslinger hunts down one of the oldest demons in the land as a plague of murders spreads. Time is running out with the enemy growing in power with every second that passes. Will her shadow magic be enough to claim victory? Or will she be counted among the dead and forgotten?

Who will it be, humans or demons that prevail?

Find Unburdened, Unrepentant here!


A fantasy romance novella with a deadly throne, a fake heir, and a reluctant romance.

Azrae Silverserpent is a young demon woman that’s anything but happy with the state of her realm. A war with Elves, a broken engagement, an empty throne known for killing its kings, and a family to protect are difficult for a girl to navigate, especially when she’s already lost everything else.

The deadly Winged Throne needs a king, and her six year-old little brother is next in line. She is desperate not to sacrifice her brother for a broken kingdom, so when her thought-to-be-dead ex-fiancé reappears to become next in line once again, it looks like salvation.

Too soon it becomes wildly clear to her that this savior is not her ex-fiancé Rezuriel; he’s a common man dodging the war one twist of luck after the other, just like her. This vexingly charming stranger may not be the real heir to the throne of the crumbling Winged Realm, but he is her best hope for a future.

Find Upon His Throne here!


The end of the world is coming, not in fire, but in thorns. The Verdance, a cascade of misbegotten magical overgrowth, has already consumed an entire continent and now creeps across the sea, threatening to choke the globe in vines and thorns.

With the world desperate for solutions, the rogue mage Ourin has her unjust sentence commuted from execution to a suicide mission: to join an expedition into the depths of the Verdance, to find it’s heart, and put an end to the overgrowth once and for all.

Find The Verdant Apocalypse here!


Science Fiction



Half died in the first twelve years, another half will die before help from Earth can arrive.

On a world turned toxic by the Belch, an industrial catastrophe that spewed hundreds of tons of Xenochem-646 into the air, the survivors concentrated in one central city scrabble and scrape for every molecule of oxygen they can get. To breathe the unfiltered air is to invite 646 into your lungs, where it dissolves you from the inside-out until you’re nothing but a jumpsuit filled with red slurry.

Rose has spent half her life looking through the tinted lenses of a gassie, staring up at the massive corpo towers of the great titans of industry. Towers where she’s heard that some people don’t even have seal-welts, and the very hollow suits who caused the Belch are skimming oxygen and selling it at a premium to the Jacks whose planet they ruined.

But Rose has something the corpos don’t. She’s got access to excavation-grade explosives, she’s got a crew of willing degenerates.

And most dangerous of all, she’s got a plan.

Find Breathe here!


Nothing comes without a sacrifice, and life is not an exception.

Entropy, the arrow of time, has made life impossible, and all we can do is to await our ultimate fate. We can try to delay it, as we have done for sextillions of years, but eventually, we will all die.

If only we had more time
If only we had a way
If only we could break the laws of physics

Or are the laws of physics already broken…

Find Entropy Inc. here!


The only end to war is to end humanity itself, but scientists Zhores Zelmanov and Sophia Rasborov have a vision. They will engineer a new humanity to replace the old, and all that stands in their way are two other mad scientists, with their own plans for the world.

The two sides clash with their competing philosophies, feuding over what it means to be human, the nature of the soul, and what it takes to save the world. As the battles and bodies pile up, the conflict worsens until all that remains is revenge and bloody ingenuity.

Only one dream can win out, and the earth might not survive the fight.

Find They Called Me Mad here!


GameLit/LitRPG



On the edge of town, an endless spire looms…

Myles Wentz has spent his life making arms and armor for self-proclaimed ‘heroes’ who climb the Black Spire in search of glory. Climbers who endlessly throw themselves at the spire in hopes of overcoming its challenges. None ever return.

When his oldest grandson expresses interest in becoming a Climber, Myles realizes someone needs to clear the tower once and for all. But he can’t trust the bumbling fools who waltz through his shop. He’s got to handle it himself. It’ll mean closing the shop, making his own gear, and abandoning his comfortable life. Just to potentially sacrifice himself on the altar that is the Black Spire.

It’ll take all of Myles’ life experience to overcome this challenge; he’s not fighting to save the world, just one boy from making a huge mistake.

Black Spire, the first of its name, was written as part of the Inkfort Press Publishing Derby. If you want to see a badass, grumpy older protagonist take on a tower, this one’s for you.

Find Black Spire here!


If Hell is full, where do the sinners go?

The answer – Godguild, a new universe filled with magic, monsters, and stats, where the afterlife is determined by progression. It’s not about being good anymore, and it’s not even about being strong. All that matters is being at the top.

After being sent to Godguild with everyone else, Theodore Goss plays along as an Afterlifer. Hard though it is, he’ll make it to paradise eventually. But when a vicious guild drags him into a skeletal dungeon run, Theo realizes the monsters have it much worse than him.

Theo helps the surviving skeletons build a new home. To ensure their continued survival, however, Theo needs to navigate the minefield of unfriendly mobs, monsters of every shape and eldritch size, and of course, Hell itself peeking in at the edges, all while plumbing the secrets Godguild is hiding.

It’s going to take more than levelling up to make it in this cruel world, and Theo is just the guy to go above and beyond.

Godguild is a LitRPG series where the protagonist brings intelligent mobs to his side by hook or by crook, all to take the fight to the system. With a healthy helping of crafting, base-building, and survival elements, it’s perfect for readers of Epic Fantasy and Gamelit, and for fans of Dragon Age, Guild Wars, and Dungeons and Dragons.

Survival? Maybe for now. But Theo is coming for Godguild itself.

Find The Crypt Lord’s Call here!


After two months of weathering countless attacks by monsters from a nearby dungeon, Mirza is on the brink of destruction. All its heroes have fallen, and no new ones are coming. Amidst the impending doom, Sylus, an enchanter with a mysterious past, tries his best to help the soldiers defend the city. When an opportunity arrives that will not only save Mirza, but also solve the mystery of his past, Sylus immediately takes it. Little did he know, a corrupted being was out to get him…

Find Forged and Forgotten here!


The Dark is missing. And so will my life, if I don’t get him back.

As Herald of the Dark, one of the six ancients ruling the land, it’s my duty to manage his citizens and stop any threats toward his domain. It’s also my duty to find whoever kidnapped him. From me.

I might have trapped the Dark in my basement at some point in the past to siphon his power and enrich mine.

And now, I have a big problem in my hands.

If the Dark regains his power before I get him back, I’m dead.
If the other ancients realize what I’ve done, I’m dead.
If I get savaged to death in a fight while looking for the Dark, I’m dead. Mostly, because I’m the only one around with a resurrection card.

With time running out, my power depleting, and the other ancients sprouting nonsense about upcoming disasters, I will cheat, lie, steal, and stop at little to get the Dark back.

After all, that’s what got me this far.

Find Herald of the Dark here!


Quickly approaching her 20th birthday, Cara Vacher must choose between being a Quest Giver or a Quest taker, as all Palanitians must. Her choice will define the rest of her life and risk her crossing paths with the most violent, power-hungry, and brutish of creatures: players. How will Cara survive in a world plagued by undying adventures long enough to find her missing sister? Meanwhile, Ivan just wanted to enjoy Alphabalde one last time before the server goes offline forever and takes an easy quest to find an NPC. But every time he finds her, he dies before he can complete the quest. What’s so special about this Cara Vacher anyway?

Find One Last Sunset here!


NPCs aren’t supposed to gain skills. They don’t go on monster-slaying adventures. But levelling up is their only chance of escaping the Mists…

Three years ago, the Mists devoured Arathia and killed two-thirds of the population. Those like Rey who survived the mysterious fog were permanently branded and thrown into a new world with monsters, levels, and skills.

Returning to their way of life seems impossible until Arathia’s resident crazy homeless guy proposes a plan that just might get Rey and his friends out of their dead-end village.

When they leave their safe zone, they find that the truth about the Mists is far closer to home than they ever could have believed.

And wait, what do you mean they’re not real people, but non-player characters in a new full-dive role-playing game?

Find The Mists of Arathia here!


Grab your go juice and kick the tires…

Two brothers on opposite ends of a secret war. One fights for what is right, the other for survival.

It’s been 200 years since the ‘Ascension’ of mankind, and 400 years since the multiverse split open and the apocalypse, known as the cataclysm, swept across Earth gifting humans with game-like abilities and strength.

Eli and his brother Aeton grew up seeing the stars from space, living on a space station they joined the Aggregate, an empire of aliens who use humanity as a weapon against all who oppose them.

When a mission to stop a rebellion goes south the two brother’s worlds are ripped apart by fate. Now, years later on opposing sides only one will make it out alive.

This book is a love letter to sci-fi and post-apocalyptic LitRPG.

Find Pop Smoke here!


The clock’s about to run out—but Adrin’s got one last play to make.

Serving in the personal vanguard for the Archon, the weaponized AI Adrin and his partner Linya take care of the quiet problems. The ones that threaten the throne’s stability. The ones that never see the light of day.

But when Adrin is deemed obsolete by the Archon’s advisory council, he’s faced with one final chance to prove his worth and avoid decommissioning—infiltrate a nobleman’s servers and eliminate the illicit AI being developed within. It won’t be a simple task, especially when the AI are locked deep inside deadly training simulations. Even if Adrin can make his way through the bloody games to his targets, the only prize waiting for him is a fight to the death.

A chance in the ring is better than a one-way trip to the junkyard, though, so Adrin sets himself to his final mission with single-minded focus. If the council wants him to play their games, he will.

And to the victor go the spoils.

Transit Point is a LitRPG adventure featuring real-time strategy mechanics.

Find Transit Point here!


Suspense, Horror, and Mystery



Grifter extraordinaire David Latkey wanted a quiet night in.

Three thugs crashing into his house, intent on beating the stuffing out of him for unspecified reasons hadn’t been on the agenda.

Neither was fleeing barefoot into a creepy forest.

Running for his life, David just wants to get away. To hide. Escape.
Fate had other plans.

When they’d finished with him, the biggest ruffian whispered in David’s ear, “Lindsay says hi.”

Left beaten, bloody, and alone; David struggles to survive. They’d be back.

Through excruciating pain and fever dreams, he focused on the name Lindsay.

Everything changed that night. He changed.

Then, it was his turn.

Find Strange Evolution here!


Whatever happened to Elisma, Ohio?

How did an entire city vanish from the banks of Lake Erie in 1975? And what does it mean for four teens who stumble on its abandoned streets in the summer of 1992?

Rachel Dallas and her three friends are about to be plunged into the midst of a decades old supernatural mystery. Lost while returning from a summer trip to the lake just before starting their final year of high school, they accidentally wander into the empty streets of a city not on any of their maps. Elisma, Ohio. Rachel finds herself tormented by nightmares, and a haunting presence that seems to be following her every footstep. And the more the ghosts of the past try and invade her present, the more determined she becomes to unravel their enigma.

Something happened to Elisma, Ohio. And someone knows. Rachel and her friends are going to find out.

Find Whatever Happened to Elisma, Ohio here!