Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for April 19, 2024

Reading Time: 12 minutes
Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for April 19, 2024

Did you know that Amazon has a list of the top-selling and free sci-fi and fantasy books? The list changes constantly — authors and publishers 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 are going to 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 Free Friday videos — email me at [email protected].

5. Bittersweet Breadcrumbs by Aster Rye

This is the first of two books in this fantasy romance series. The other book has yet to be released. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.

From Terri Wells:

As a compulsive reader, I always check out the front material and the book description before diving in. The description notes that this is the first book in a duology, and that it ends in a “slight cliffhanger.” So right away I know I’m in dangerous territory, but the story centers around a bookshop, so I also know I’ll be drawn in regardless.

We meet our heroine, Doria, rushing home in bad weather from a bad day at her job in the tiny tourist town’s café. Two years ago, she left the college where she was training to be a librarian to travel across the country to be with her boyfriend—who dumped her two months after the move. She’s finally getting back on her feet, but misses the city and the university, and dives into books to escape life’s harshness.

She escapes the storm, which is getting worse, by ducking into a bookstore she hadn’t seen before in a part of town she doesn’t frequent much. It’s a warm, welcoming sanctuary. After meeting a couple of the store’s regulars—one quite welcoming, the other a little bit creepy—she has her “meet cute” with Miles, who reluctantly admits that he’s the store’s owner. Right away there’s a mystery — why would he be hesitant to admit to being the owner?

Miles isn’t Doria’s type. He’s a tall, polished, sophisticated, handsome gentleman. He’s also clearly hot, and of course she finds herself drawn to him. And yes, his eyes are twinkling when they meet, seemingly because he startled her in the horror section and is enjoying it. We learn in their interaction that Doria is into horror, thrillers, and mystery, and most emphatically not into rom-coms — when Miles suggests that section, she practically bites his head off.

Miles quickly apologizes. Doria  tries to leave in a huff, but she forgot about the expensive leather-bound Poe volume she’d slipped into her bag while she looked at other books. Miles hasn’t. He stops her and politely asks her to hand it over. She’s embarrassed — she really did honestly forget and hadn’t intended to steal it. She asks him not to call the cops. He agrees not to and makes a bargain with her: he’ll give her one of the books from the bookshop, of his choosing, for her to read and return “so we can discuss it like civilized people.” Of course, he picks a book of fantasy romance short stories and urges her to give it a chance. She can even read just one short story, not the whole thing. She agrees, but figures she’ll despise it and let him know. He says he’ll be anxiously awaiting her return.

When she gets home, she expects to hate the book. Even as a little kid, she never went in for the frilly fairy tale princess stuff. The first story in the collection is too light and airy for her, so she turns to the second story. There’s an F-bomb in the first sentence of that one, so she figures there’s hope for it. What follows is a story-within-a-story format: a headstrong and determined young woman is on night patrol in the enchanted forest with a childhood friend, hunting down a witch who has been stealing away one villager a month for the past six months. Doria gets into the story, and so did I. Chapter two of this book ends on a cliffhanger in the fairy tale—and leaves both me and Doria wanting to keep reading. I know what I’ll be reading this weekend.

I’m usually not big on stories-within-stories, because it’s hard to do them well, but this one looks like it’s going to work. Both the frame and the story within it are well written, and there really are two separate full-fledged parallel stories to wonder about. Given the setup, I know there are going to be more stories-within-stories, and I want to see what the author does with them.

All of the characters in both the main story and the story-within-the-story so far are interesting enough that I want to learn more about them, and what happens to them next.

If you like fairy tales that aren’t sappy, and some mystery with your romance, this might be the book for you.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

4. Of Curses and Moonlight by J. Ann Curtis

This is the first of two books in The Villain’s Kiss retold fairy tale series. The other book is $3.99 and not in Kindle Unlimited. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.

From Maria Korolov:

So, first, a disclaimer — I’m not a fan of fairy tale retellings or of romance, and this book has both.

Also, I’m not too big a fan of swans, either — they’re mean, and their reputation for monogamy is unwarranted. And our protagonist, Odette, is a swan. The book opens with a row of swans soaring through the sky, then landing in pond and turning into a bunch of women in white dresses. Odette is one of them.

They’re all under some kind of a curse. One of the other swan women hands Odette a bone-and-stone knife. Her job is to kill some guy in order to break the curse. Odette worries, however, that killing the guy won’t help.

Still, she plans to see this through, and avenge her mother’s death as a bonus.

She finds Rothbart, the guy who cursed them. He wants to know if she’s remembered anything new. She hasn’t, but asks if he’ll release them from the curse if she does. He tells her that they’ll never be free — the curse has no time limit. Meanwhile, there is a time limit on another deal of some kind, which is due to expire in a few months. Once this deal expires, the swan women will die excruciating deaths.

She pulls out the knife but he says that if he dies, they’ll all be cursed forever. But the curse has an out — if she finds a man willing to vow undying love to her, the curse will break. This is hard to do when you’re usually in swan form, and, when briefly human, trapped barefoot in the woods miles from civilization.

In the next chapter, we go back a few months. Odette is fully human and in bed with her lover, who is suddenly covered in blood, dies, and his corpse says she she did this to him. Oh, it’s a dream.

She’s been napping, and now she’s awake she has work to do. Cool work — she’s an assassin! Part of an elite group founded by her mother.

And this when we find out about this mysterious deal. The assassin have taken on an assignment, and have a year to carry it out — or else they’re all dead. Because their employer has cast a curse on them. Her mother made the deal without, apparently, doing any due diligence.

Odette’s job is to kill one of the main targets, the wife of the queen’s royal sorcerer. Other assassins will kill his daughter, the other main target, and, to deflect suspicion, the sorcerer himself as well.

It’s Odette’s first mission and another sign that her mother is an extremely bad manager. If all their lives depend on getting this right, why assign a newbie to one of the most critical jobs?

This assignment is also going to be their last. There’s enough money in it for the two of them to retire. Her mother plans to turn over the leadership of the team to one of the other assassins. But Odette doesn’t want to retire. She’s just starting out in her assassin career. In fact, she expected to take over the business. Now, if she wants to stay an assassin, she’d have to work under some other woman, just because the other woman is more experienced.

So Odette is a spoiled nepo baby. Got it.

But there’s a last minute twist to their plans. When they get to their victims’ home, they find out that the sorcerer’s son, Rothbart, is there as well. Instead of killing the mother, Odette and another assassin are reassigned to take down the son.

But when it’s time to make the kill, she hesitates, and Rothbart has time to wake up and cast a spell to stop her. And, after some fighting, to stop all the assassins — but not quite soon enough. Rothbart is able to save himself and his sister, but he didn’t cast the swan spell quickly enough to save his parents. Now they’re both dead and, in the fighting, Odette’s mother died as well.

Now Rothbart wants the remaining assassins to tell him who hired them. But the only one who knows, Odette’s mother, is dead.

So that’s the premise. There was plenty of action here, which I like.

But I am not a fan of Odette. And, judging by the fact that the point of view switches to Rothbart in the next chapter, the two of them are going to get together in the end. I’m not a fan of that, either. I mean, can you imagine being romantically involved with someone who helped kill your parents? Or, in Odette’s case, parent, singular? Can you imagine the fights? You didn’t put away the plates. But what did I expect from someone who killed my mom? Clearly, I’m old and very jaded!

Aside from these two issues, which are probably only deal breakers for me and not for anyone else, the book is highly readable and engaging. People who like fairy tale retellings, lots of magic, action, and an enemies-to-lovers romance would probably enjoy it quite a bit.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

3. Vows and Vagabonds by Val Saintcrowe

This is the first of two books in The Rzymn Job fantasy series. The other book is $3.99 and not in Kindle Unlimited. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.

From Kristin Noland:

Sefoni enters a gentleman’s club in search of the Lord of the Dead and to get help retrieving the queen’s stolen bracelet. She finds him right as two men are holding him at gunpoint for messing with one of the men’s wives. He’s sexy, funny, and relaxed with a gun in his hand and two pointed at him, and she’s intrigued.

The Lord of the Dead, or Haid as people call him, is also very interested in Sefoni and her skills. He’s willing to help her steal the bracelet back, but on one condition — she must marry him. Shocked and frustrated at his proposal, she leaves.

Later, at court, Haid corners her in a hallway, rips her dress and they are caught by partygoers in a compromising position. With her reputation on the line, the queen suggests they marry, which was Haid’s reason for ripping her dress in the first place. It seems like he will get what he wants.

Haid appears much less than honorable. He’s the owner of the gentleman’s club, a thief, and a frequent visitor at a house of ill repute. But he might not be so bad. He’s paid off a sex worker’s debt and is willing to buy the sex worker a house with servants —  if she helps him by sleeping with a prizefighter to knock him off his game. For everything good he does, there is a catch.

I like the book. I find it entertaining. It’s a fast-paced and witty story based somewhat on the tale of Hades and Persephone. The characters are likable, and I would like to know more about Haid and his devious plans. I’m on the fence about continuing. Mostly because I’m reading about five books right now.

The author uses a few wonky spellings, so if you can get past that and enjoy historical fantasy and a good mystery, you will enjoy this book!

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

2. Ivy and Bone by R.L.Perez

This is the first of four books in Ivy and Bone paranormal romance series. The other books are $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. This is the author’s second time on our Free Friday list. We reviewed this book in April 2024.

From E.S. Foster:

The story opens from the perspective of Cyrus, a character based on Hades, the Greek god of the underworld. Despite ruling over his six brothers and father with an iron fist, he has ties to the mortal world. It turns out that the reason Cyrus is so powerful — enough to even harm other gods — is because he made a deal through a mysterious book to usher mortal souls through the Underworld.

However, his father warns him that three of Cyrus’s brothers are preparing a mutiny. In addition, the father is poisoning the river Acheron. Once the river dries up, all mortal souls will be released, and Cyrus will be forced to enter the mortal realm, where he’ll be trapped, effectively ending his reign as king.

The story then shifts to Prue, a witch preparing for the end of the harvest, or Samhain. The ghost of her sister trails after her constantly, and Prue is determined to bring her back to the realm of the living. Months before, the sister had sacrificed herself to save her village, gifting Prue her magic in the process, but Prue feels guilty for being unable to save her, though her sister forgives her. It turns out that she had sacrificed herself fighting against an army of dead souls from the Underworld, letting us know that Acheron has, in fact, dried up and Cyrus is about to be exiled into the mortal realm.

Now in the mortal world, Cyrus will need to work together with Prue to keep death and darkness from taking over.

I haven’t read too many Greek myth retellings, but this one sounds especially intriguing. It’s clear that the author researched Greek mythology extensively and found tons of inspiration in it.

I also like how the book basically asks what would happen if the Underworld broke open and the souls wanted revenge?

The only thing I will say is that it’s kind of difficult to understand when things are happening in the first couple of chapters. Prue’s sister sacrificed herself against the souls escaping from the Underworld, but while that was months ago, Cyrus’s perspective sounds like it’s in the present, even though that death hasn’t happened yet. This might be cleared up as I read further — and I am planning on reading more of the story.

If you enjoy mythological retellings and are looking for something new this weekend, check out this series.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

1. Of Blood & Roses by Georgiana Kent

This is the first book, and, currently, the only book in the Warring Hearts retold fairy tale series of standalone romances. The second book is due out next December. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.

From Lilivette Domínguez-Torres:

This is another Hades-and-Persephone retelling — perfect for fans of enemies-to-lovers and revenge. In the first few chapters we meet both of our main characters: Amias de Marc and Lamia Fontaine.

Amias is an old and powerful vampire and half-fae who rules over a kingdom he once saved from an invasion. Every hundred years, he celebrates a big public holiday where every unwed 20-year-old girl has to visit him. If she makes flower bloom, she will become his wife.

It’s now two hundreds years later, and the big holiday is coming around again. This is when we meet Lamia. She’s participating in the festival because she wants to get some revenge. Revenge against who? Against the person that killed her brother. Does she get it though? Well, I guess that’s something you’ll have to find out by yourself.

The writing is okay but the main problem I had with the beginning of this story was the pacing. It was a little too quick for my liking, which makes it feel like the story and the characters don’t have much depth. In other words, it makes the way they react to the world around them seem superficial and I’m not a fan of that.

I really don’t think this is my type of book or that I’ll be continuing it, but I definitely recommend you check it out if the premise seems appealing and you’re a fan of books like A Court of Thorns and Roses.

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!

Or watch Terri and Maria discuss all five books in the video below:

Kristin Noland is a developmental and line editor who works with women authors of speculative and crime fiction. At Noland Editing, she expertly guides authors through the writing and editing process to strengthen their storytelling skills, so their readers are entertained and immersed in their stories from cover to cover. With over seventy manuscripts edited, including two bestsellers, and her caring and encouraging editing style, she helps her clients create captivating novels. Follow her on YouTube at @KristinNoland.

E. S. Foster is a writer and graduate student at the University of Cambridge. Her work has been featured in a variety of literary journals and small presses. You can find out more about her and what she does at her blog, E. S. Foster.

Terri Wells (she/her) has been writing stories ever since she could hold a pencil, and editing written work of all kinds for nearly half her life. When not editing, she can be found eyeballs-deep exploring other worlds, or elbows-deep in her latest fibery project.

Lilivette Domínguez-Torres is MetaStellar's marketing assistant and an aspiring book editor based in Puerto Rico. You can find her talking about fantasy books or K-dramas on Twitter at @lilivettedt.

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.

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