Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for Apr. 7, 2023

Reading Time: 17 minutes
Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for Friday, April 7, 2023.

Did you know that Amazon has a list of the top-selling and free sci-fi and fantasy books? The list changes constantly — authors set their books to free temporarily to promote their work, and, of course, books move up and down in the rankings. Read on to find your fun free read for this weekend! And grab the books quickly because they don’t always stay free for long.

This week’s list is completely different from those of the previous weeks. So if you’re a fan of free books, there will be new things to read all the time. If you want to get this list in your inbox every Friday afternoon, subscribe to the MetaStellar weekly newsletter.

There are a lot of books to go through, so this week, I’m being helped out by a couple of other members of our MetaStellar community. If you’d like to join me in doing these reviews — and taping our regular Friday videos — email me at [email protected].

10. I See Me by Meghan Ciana Doidge

This is the first of three books in the Oracle paranormal romance series. The other books are $4.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited. This series is a spin-off of the Dowser cozy magical mystery series, but the author says you don’t need to read that series to enjoy this one. We reviewed a box set of the first three books of that series in February of 2022.

From Maria Korolov:

I could have sworn I’d read this book already. Rochelle is an orphan with a bad attitude, living in a group home, about to age out, and working in a marginal job. No, that other book was set in England. This one is set in Vancouver. All these Free Friday books are starting to blur together in my head.

But I like this one more. I like Rochelle’s attitude. I like the fact that she’s getting a tattoo when the book starts, even though I, myself, am scared of needles.

Her mother was killed in a car accident and the body never identified, and her father was also unknown, so she’s been an orphan all her life with no known relatives.

She’s dodged a stalker and is riding on the bus, heading to an appointment with her social worker, when she starts hallucinating, for the first time in months. She tries hard not to scream. Last time, she wound up in the psych ward for three days. Instead, she pulls a piece of charcoal out of her bag — she’s an artist — and it helps her focus so that the hallucination doesn’t take over. She gets off the bus, sits down, and starts sketching the two people she saw in her hallucination. Sketching is one of the ways she copes with them. Plus, she sells her sketches on Etsy.

When she finally gets to her social worker, signs all the papers, and gets her passport, she’s ready to move on. Maybe leave the country. Then the social worker gives her a jewelry box. It’s something of her mother’s, that the government has kept for the past 19 years. Inside, there’s a gold necklace attached to a white stone.

Once she’s done with her appointment, she goes to a jewelry store to get the chain repaired. There’s a little bit of damage where the stone is attached, as if someone had jerked it off her mother’s neck and broke a link. The jeweler tells her that the stone isn’t quartz — it’s a diamond. It’s worth money. He offers to buy it and creeps her out, so she leaves.

She heads to her next stop. An RV dealership. She’s been saving up for three years. And she’s got everything planned out. She’s already taken it for a test drive. She’s read the owner’s manual. The insurance agency is expecting her. I like her very, very much. I’m going to be sticking with this book, even though the protagonist is a teenager.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

9. Death’s Creation by P.M. Reynolds

This is the first of four books in The Death Bringer Chronicles epic fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited.

From Maria Korolov:

I do like epic fantasy, so I have a feeling I might be the target reader for this book.

It starts with a tribe of nomadic hunters taking down a mammoth. One of the tribe’s boys is hurt during the battle. He’s going to die, but two strangers, giants, show up and offer to help the boy. One of the strangers uses her magic and saves the boy’s life. The two strangers are gods. They created the Earth. And now they want to change the course of civilization. Well, it doesn’t go well. People start killing each other, and the two gods destroy the whole planet — just like they’ve created and destroyed others before. But then it turns out that one of the gods actually kept Earth safe, a secret from the other god. So the other god heads over there and does something nefarious so that the world will tear itself apart.

I didn’t like the writing style of the first chapter. It read more like a prologue or a summary of a story rather than a story itself. Actually, it reads as though ChatGPT wrote it. The style is not very immersive — there’s a great deal of distance between the reader and the characters, and you can’t even tell who the point of view character is.

Maybe that was just the prologue and the writing gets better in chapter two.

Nope. Still the same style. In this chapter, two brothers, Romulus and Remus, are leaders of a town full of bandits and thieves. They’re planning to attack another village, kill all the men, and take its women. Remus is wounded, Romulus makes a deal with the head princess of Sabine to do some magic and save his brother’s life, and gets cursed to create death in the world. Again, we can’t even tell who the point of view character is. The writing feels very old-fashioned — or, again, like ChatGPT wrote it.

Then, in the third chapter, we meet Jack, an army vet on a trip to the Italian Alps. It’s the present day, and Jack’s entire team was wiped out on their last mission. We learn about it because he hitches a ride to Munich, and tells the story to a fellow passenger. In Munich, he takes a train to Prague. He’s there to meet the sister, Lida, of one of the dead men and tell her the bad news. The two of them hit it off and she drives him to his hotel. They get in a car accident, and Jack is flung hundreds of feet away.

In the next chapter we switch locations and characters yet again. Still in the present day, we now follow a woman named Emma who’s attacked by a couple of gang members, then saved by a passing stranger who bandages up her wounds and takes her home. Then we switch to the guy who saved her, who’s got some kind of magic amulet.

Then we’re back with Lida — the sister of Jack’s dead army buddy. She’s been kidnapped, and meets Remus. Remus makes her touch a rat and then read from a magic book — I’m guessing this is the book that the priestess back in Sabine had. When she reads the book, she turns into Death. Remus tells her that she needs to create Chaos, and then the three of them will release Darkness. He’s going to help her develop her powers.

I can’t get past the writing style. The closest modern books that I can think of that are written like this are LitRPG books which themselves read like summaries of role playing campaigns. But at least LitRPG books follow a consistent set of characters, and, usually, have a strong point of view.

I have no idea why this book was on the top ten list today. At the time I’m writing this, it has zero reviews — compared to hundreds or thousands for some of the other books on this list. Maybe the author did a really good job promoting it? Or people liked the cover? I Googled it and I think I’ve solved the mystery: The book was on the Free Booksy paranormal books list today.

Or maybe this is a new kind of book that we’ll be seeing a lot more of? I hope not. I have a really, really hard time reading this.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

8. The Castle of 1,000 Doors by Kenny Gould

This is the first — and, so far, only — book in the Toroth-Gol progression fantasy series.

From Maria Korolov:

A progression fantasy is one where the main characters level up over the course of the book or the series. LitRPG books are a kind of progression fantasy. So is Harry Potter. I like progression fantasies, though I’m a little concerned after my experience with the previous book on this list. If anyone is going to use ChatGPT to write books, it’s going to be LitRPG authors. Because they tend to be nerdy. But maybe that’s just a stereotype. Sorry, LitRPGers!

Anyway, my worries are completely unfounded and this book reads like a completely normal, human-written novel.

Bert is the captain of the Steel City Guard. He’s reporting to the Jaguar, who seems to be some kind of magical being. Bert has photographs showing one of the city’s most powerful nobles meeting with the Empire’s sworn enemies. Bert and his fellow guards had long suspected the noble of treason, but never had proof. The enemies the lord had been waiting for have already been captured. Now Bert just needs the Jaguar’s orders to arrest the noble. The Jaguar agrees, and orders Bert to take care of both the noble and the man’s son. He decides to have the son sent to the Hunt, which is some kind of popular contest.

That was the prologue.

The book itself is told from the point of view of the noble’s son, King Crow. He’s adopted, born to the Steel City’s poor blue-collar area. And he’s a ball player, playing some kind of sport that seems like a cross between soccer and football. He and his team win their match, and, afterwards, when he’s being interviewed by a TV reporter, he’s asked about the upcoming Hunt. And we learn that in the Hunt, prisoners try to get as far as they can.

That night, both King Crow and his father were arrested by Bert and his men, charged with high treason, and immediately found guilty. He’s also put in an orange jumpsuit, his hands are painted black, and his right eye is replaced with an ocular implant.

And now we find out more about the Hunt. Every year, the Empire’s worst criminals are sent into a desert dungeon, the only place within a thousand miles of the empire that still has magic. The dungeon is full of monsters and traps and changes every year. If a prisoner makes it through all ten levels they win a jewel and their freedom — but Crow has never heard of anyone actually being freed.

The setting was a little confusing to me. It seems both medieval and modern at the same time. It’s also a little cheesy. But I like cheesy. And the premise for getting the main character into a D&D-style dungeon seems a little contrived — but I like it. This is exactly the kind of LitRPG book I enjoy. I quickly skimmed ahead, and there’s text from the dungeon user interface, but no stats. That’s good. I hate stats — pagefuls of numbers don’t exactly make captivating reading.

I’m going to be sticking with this book this weekend.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

7. Hidden by Shalini Boland

This is the first of three books in the Vampires of Marchwood paranormal romance series. The other books are $3.99 each, but they’re both in Kindle Unlimited.

From Maria Korolov:

I’m not a fan of vampire romance novels. I prefer my vampires to be soulless monsters who get staked on sight. So please take my review with a large helping of salt.

Madison is a student at a private school in Scotland — oh, no, the book is set in a school! — and she’s in trouble for her goth clothing choices. She calls the deputy headmistress a Nazi, gets slapped, threatens to report the woman, and gets blackmailed into staying silent. If she speaks up, the deputy head promises, something bad will happen to her little brother. Not that anyone would believe her about the slap, anyway. Instead, she gets a week’s suspension. When she comes home, she gets into a fight with her foster parents about getting suspended and storms off.

She goes to the library to hang out for a while. She doesn’t have a library card, so when the librarian tells her the library is closing, she steals the book she’s reading. That evening she goes to a friend’s house for a party.

Then we go back in time, to 1881, Paris. Alexandre was in trouble over a girl — he got caught kissing her at a dance. As punishment, he’s sent off with his parents on their archeological dig in Turkey.

Then we’re back in the present day with Madison, who got some extra hours at the supermarket where she’d been working on Saturdays. Then a lawyer shows up at the supermarket and asks to speak to her. A distant relative has left an estate to her and her brother. It includes a house, an allowance, and a ton of money. But there are strings attached. For one thing, she’ll have to move to the house.

This is a pretty well-written book, and it’s trying hard to pull me in. But I don’t like the whole vampire thing, and I don’t like Alexandre and am worried that he’s going to be the love interest. Plus, Madison is a little annoying. So I’m not going to stick with it. But, again, the book is extremely readable and pulls you in. If you don’t mind teenage drama, you might enjoy it quite a bit.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

6. Alone at the End of the World by M.P. McDonald

This is the first of three books in the Sympatico Syndrome World post-apocalyptic series. The other books are $3.99 each, but they’re both in Kindle Unlimited.

From Alex Korolov:

You might like this book if you enjoy post-apocalyptic pandemic survival stories.

A virus called Sympatico Syndrome has wiped out most of the world’s human population in less than a week, and this story is about a few people who are left alive in the aftermath.

In chapter one, a man named Noah has just returned from a two-week fishing trip in the woods of Wisconsin. As soon as he hits civilization, he realizes something is wrong. There’s no traffic on the roads, some car is smashed against a tree, and his cell phone no longer has a signal. After a family driving a minivan comes across him, they tell him how bad the world’s gotten and that almost everyone is gone.

In chapter two, a woman named Cassie has been holed up in her house with her two kids. She’s been baking food at home for the past two days, which is her home business, and hasn’t noticed how bad it’s gotten outside. Her deadbeat ex-husband shows up and tries to break into the house. Cassie manages to get him to leave, but he doesn’t get very far and dies on the neighbor’s lawn. Cassie had heard about some virus on the news, but she’s just realized that the situation’s much worse than she thought

I would definitely keep reading this book. It seems like a fast-paced story that’ll keep you on your toes. Death is lurking around every corner, and I want to see how the characters navigate this crazy new world they’ve found themselves in.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

5. Prophecy’s Ruin by Sam Bowring

This is the first of three books in The Broken Well Trilogy epic fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each, but they’re both in Kindle Unlimited. The author has been on this list before. Last June, we reviewed his book Strange Threads, the first of two books in the Strange Threads epic fantasy series.

From Tim McHugh:

This book takes place in a high fantasy world that is split by two factions who have been warring for a thousand years. I do love high fantasy but this one seems like it might be a bit TOO fantastical for my tastes. I usually prefer magic infused into a human-driven world instead of the other way around, but still I’m a good audience for this one.

We start as many great fantasies start: with a prophecy. After a millennium of magical war, there is a prophecy that a blue-haired boy will be born in the next hundred years, a boy who will have the power to end the war. Both factions see this prophecy and are preparing for the boy.

The first couple of chapters follow the boy’s birth, during which his elvish mother dies, leaving him alone with his woodsman father. The next couple of chapters follow the woodsman in his grief as he tries to come to grips with the realization that he will raise the child alone, until the warring factions get wind of the birth.

I stopped after chapter three, but at this point the two factions are converging on each other in the woods, ready to fight for the baby. The heart of the story comes when the baby is magically split into two and both factions take one. They don’t know if one, or both, or neither, is the prophetic baby, but they raise the two nonetheless. The story will follow both boys as they grow, loyal to opposite sides, until they are forced to come to grips with their destiny.

When I first read the description for this book, a blue-haired prophecy baby, I didn’t have high expectations, but, even though I only read a couple of chapters, I think the author can make it work. The writing is mostly good and it seems like the story unfolding has a lot of opportunity for deep internal struggles.

Still, I wasn’t totally hooked by the premise. A millennium-long magical war seems far-fetched to me, and even fantasy needs to be realistic. I mean, a millennium is a long time for a single war. There’s been no victor? No fatigue? No tries at peace through the generations? The pacing is also very slow at the beginning so I had some trouble staying with it.

I’m not going to finish this one but if you like deeply fantastical stories and aren’t as picky as I am, you’ll probably like this one.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

4. Throwing Shade by Deborah Wilde

This is the first of seven books in the Magic After Midlife cozy magical mystery series. The other books are $4.99 to $6.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited. Deborah Wilde has been on this list before, we reviewed her book Blood & Ash back in April of last year. And this particular book has been on our list before as well — we previously reviewed it this past January.

From Maria Korolov:

I love cozy magical mysteries with middle-aged amateur sleuths. And this book fits the bill.

The protagonist, Miriam, is a librarian for a legal firm. She’s a single mom and really needs the job, no matter how annoying the some of the associates can get.

Miriam is fun. I love her snark and her banter with her colleagues. The good ones, that is. Her best friend invites her for drinks after work, and I love their relationship, as well. Her best friend flakes on her, probably lost track of time while working at her art studio. She meets a handsome lawyer and flirts with him a little, then heads home.

The guy follows her home and attacks her. When he pulls her into an alley, she fights back, kicks him, and sprays him with maximum strength hair spray. The guys get angry, makes the spray can fly out of her hand without even having to touch it, then starts choking her.

Then Miriam, on the verge of passing out, opens a door in her mind that she’s been holding shut most of her life. Once she does so, she’s able to use magic to fight back, and then to escape.

I like the beginning very much. I like Miriam and her friends, I like her teenage daughter. I’m looking forward to reading further.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

3. Alice the Dagger by Ashley McLeo

This is the first of two books in The Wonderland Court Series of romantic fantasy. The other book is $5.99 and is not in Kindle Unlimited.

From Maria Korolov:

I don’t like romance novels, or retellings of classic fairy tales. In this case, this book is a new take on Alice in Wonderland.

But it’s a fun read.

Alice is an assassin and a demi-fae. The book starts out with her scaling four stories then squeezing herself through a window barely bigger than a doggie door for a chihuahua. She’s there to kill a shifter mafia leader with a poisoned dagger. Of course, the job goes sour and she’s caught. I’m not going to tell you what happens next.

The story is set in the present day, in LA. Alice works for a vampire, paying off a debt she owes him. Also, she’s under age. She can’t wait until she gets old enough to get out from under the vampire’s thumb. Alice is on her way to see the vampire when she meets a talking rabbit who tells her that mercenaries have been sent after her, and she must leave right away. Turns out, her parents have hired the vampire to raise her safely and in hiding. He wasn’t supposed to turn her into an assassin. They were rebel leaders in Wonderland, and now the rabbit is here to take her back.

I like the fact that Alice is an assassin. I also like the fact that she’s got wings, and magical powers.

I know I said I don’t usually like fairy tale retellings, or teenagers, but I think I might stick with this book.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

2. Beginning’s End by W. J. May

This is a box set of the first three of eight books in the Beginning’s End Series of young adult romantic fantasy. The other books are $3.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited. This is a prequel to one of her other series. W.J. May  is a regular on these lists. In December, we reviewed The Kerrigan Kids box set which is the first three books in the 12-book The Kerrigan Kids series. In November, we reviewed Twist and Turns, the first of four books in the Fae Wilds coming of age fantasy series. And she’s been on this list many, many times before.

From Maria Korolov:

In a medieval-style world that has shifters, fae, and vampires in it, Kiera is a village girl who dreams of travel. She works as a bar maid at a local tavern. She’s at a nearby stream, filling a pail of water, when a wave of fire pours down from the sky and destroys the entire village. When she wakes up, she’s covered in blisters, and everyone she knows is dead. She’s determined to make it somewhere, to safety, and to tell everyone else what happened. That her entire village has been burned to a crisp — by a three-headed dragons.

They weren’t extinct, after all.

She meets a caravan of wagons, and tells them about the dragon, but they don’t believe her. She’s back to walking on her own.

She passes out and a stranger finds her, and bandages up her burned hands. He tells him that her village burned to the ground, but when he asks if she saw what happened, she says she didn’t. But then, the next morning, she confesses everything. She saw the dragon. It had three heads. She has to warn everyone.

He asks her what good that will do.

So she asks him what she should do instead. And he suggests that she should tell the fae. If anyone can fight a dragon, it’s them.

I like this story. I like Kiera. I even like the stranger who’s helping her. The writing is immersive, and the world feels full and real. I think I’ll be sticking with this book.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

1. Ice by Kevin Tinto

This is the first of three books in the award-winning Ice Trilogy science fiction adventure series. The other books are $4.99 and $5.99 each but they’re both in Kindle Unlimited.

From Tim McHugh:

This book takes place on Earth, starting in New Mexico, and though we don’t know the exact year, it seems to be the relative present. If not for the fantasy aspects in the prologue, I would’ve thought this to be a regular fiction book. Usually I prefer high fantasy with magic or deep space battles, but the premise of this book is extremely interesting and has a few fantastical features mixed in, so I am the target audience for this one.

The prologue starts with an ancient tribe living in what becomes New Mexico. Many tribes had inhabited the area, but a fantastical force called the Others had forced them into hiding in cliff caverns. We don’t know much about the Others, besides the fact that they have some sort of power that the tribe is too weak to fight. The prologue is short and briefly shows the tribe preparing for a last-stand battle against the Others. We don’t see the battle, but we can assume the tribe is wiped out.

We then skip forward to modern time when a team of three archeologists and their climbing guide are searching the caverns where the tribe once lived. The next two chapters follow the team as they make the groundbreaking discovery of the tribe’s city, deep in the caverns.

They are ecstatic to find the ancient city, untouched by any person. While exploring, their guide accidentally comes across the scene of the ancient battle. The ground is littered with bones and weapons. While they are trying to piece together what happened, they notice these rare, red gems that look like they do not belong. I stopped after this chapter, but the team is going to find that the gems are only found in Antarctica and they set out to discover how they came to be with an ancient tribe in New Mexico.

I love the premise of this story, an ancient mystery in a modern world with a touch of fantasy. It is unique and interesting. The writing is also very good. I usually find a few things to complain about, but the pacing is perfect so far, the characters are real, and the descriptions are simple and eloquent.

I am definitely going to stick with this one.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

See all the Free Friday posts here. Do you have other free books for us to check out? Comment below or email me at [email protected].

Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!

And watch Tim and Maria discuss all ten books in the video below:


Edited by Melody Friedenthal

MetaStellar editor and publisher Maria Korolov is a science fiction novelist, writing stories set in a future virtual world. And, during the day, she is an award-winning freelance technology journalist who covers artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and enterprise virtual reality. See her Amazon author page here and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and check out her latest videos on the Maria Korolov YouTube channel. Email her at [email protected]. She is also the editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business, one of the top global sites covering virtual reality.

MetaStellar news editor Alex Korolov is also a freelance technology writer who covers AI, cybersecurity, and enterprise virtual reality. His stories have also been published at CIO magazine, Network World, Data Center Knowledge, and Hypergrid Business. Find him on Twitter at @KorolovAlex and on LinkedIn at Alex Korolov.

Tim is an aspiring young author in the sci-fi and fantasy genre. He currently works full time in the software industry but has a love for stories with grey characters and moral ambiguity that tell us something about the world.

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