Small Press, Big Stories: Dan Fitzgerald, Shadow Spark Publishing

This month I am joining a fellow book blogger, Runalong the Shelves, who is showcasing authors published by small independent presses using the tag #SmallPressBigStories. Each week in November I will be showcasing the work of one such author. Today I have chosen to showcase Dan Fitzgerald, whose trilogy The Maer Cycle and duology The Weirdwater Confluence are published by the independent publishing company Shadow Spark Publishing.

The Maer Cycle

I have read and reviewed each of these three amazing fantasy books and my reviews can be read after each blurb:

Hollow Road

Legends describe the Maer as savage man-beasts haunting the mountains, their bodies and faces covered with hair. Creatures of unimaginable strength, cunning, and cruelty. Bedtime stories to keep children indoors at night. Soldiers’ tales to frighten new recruits.
It is said the Maer once ruled the Silver Hills, but they have long since passed into oblivion.
This is the story of their return.
Carl, Sinnie, and Finn, companions since childhood, are tasked with bringing a friend’s body home for burial. Along the way, they find there is more to the stories than they ever imagined, and the mountains hold threats even darker than the Maer. What they discover on their journey will change the way they see the world forever.
Travel down Hollow Road to find out which legends are true, and which have been twisted.

My Review | Amazon | goodreads

The Archive

In Hollow Road three companions discovered the monsters of legend were all too real…

Rumors among the Maer tell of an underground library called the Archive, which houses a wealth of knowledge and terrible magics that could be used to start the biggest war seen since the Great Betrayal. A mixed group of humans and Maer set off on an historic quest to find the Archive and protect it from those who would use it to destroy everything they hold dear. As the cold of winter bears down upon them, they trek through forbidding mountains beset by dangers they could have never imagined. They follow a set of ancient clues deep into the Silver Hills, forging surprising alliances and making new enemies.

The humans and Maer are linked by more than their quest to find the Archive and stop an insidious war. A mystical surrogacy may bridge the gap between two peoples, and many hearts entwine as their adventure hurtles toward its bloody conclusion.

My Review | Amazon | goodreads

The Place Below

It’s been twenty-five years since the Battle for the Archive. Peace reigns over the Silver Hills, and humans and Maer are preparing to sign their first trade agreement. Even warring tribes of the Free Maer have set aside old quarrels.
Sasha is a young scholar of mixed Maer and human parentage, traveling throughout the Maer lands collecting stories of the Ka-lar, the buried Forever Kings. She finds a reference in the Archive to a Ka-lar named Kuun, a scholar in life, who was laid down in an ancient brightstone mine, beneath a mountain said to be the home of the fabled Skin Maer. The lure of the tale is too strong to resist. Joined by some old friends, Sasha sets out to uncover secrets that have lain buried for over a thousand years.
In The Place Below, the Maer Cycle comes to a close as the darkest mysteries of the Maer are at last brought into the light.

My Review | Amazon | goodreads

The Weirdwater Confluence

The Weirdwater Confluence is a sword-free fantasy duology featuring The Living Waters and The Isle of a Thousand Worlds.

It is independent from the Maer Cycle trilogy, but there are a few points of contact, and both are part of a planned larger universe called the Copper Circle, which will include a trilogy called the Time Before, set 2,000 years before the Maer Cycle.

Author’s note: The two books in this duology are sequential and related, but The Isle of a Thousand Worlds is not a traditional sequel; it’s more of an adjacent story with significant points of contact. It follows some of the characters from The Living Waters, but not all, and one of the side characters in The Living Waters is a main character in The Isle of a Thousand Worlds. While the first book has only one kiss, the second book is quite steamy and includes explicit, consensual sex scenes. Either could be read by itself, but readers intending to read them both should probably read them in order.

The Living Waters

When two painted-faced nobles take a guided raft trip on a muddy river, they expect to rough it for a few weeks before returning to their life of sheltered ease, but when mysterious swirls start appearing in the water even their seasoned guides get rattled.
The mystery of the swirls lures them on to seek the mythical wetlands known as the Living Waters. They discover a world beyond their imagining, but stranger still are the worlds they find inside their own minds as they are drawn deep into the troubles of this hidden place.
The Living Waters is a Sword-Free Fantasy novel featuring an ethereal love story, meditation magic, and an ancient book with cryptic marginalia.

My Review | Amazon | goodreads

The Isle of a Thousand Worlds

An aging alchemist seeks the key to the Universal Tincture said to unlock the Thousand Worlds of the Mind, but she never expected to solve the riddle of ther hermetic heart.

A meditation acolyte travels the mystical social media known as the Caravan and finds that the Thousand Worlds lie just below the surface, if she can only learn to see the space between the stars.

This spicy romantic fantasy explores the confluence of the physical and the metaphysical though the commingling of bodies and minds.

My Review | Amazon | goodreads

About the Author

Dan Fitzgerald is a fantasy and romance author living in Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When he is not writing, he might be gardening, doing yoga, cooking, or listening to French music.  

He writes fantasy in part because the state of the world demands an escape, but also because fantasy provides another lens through which to view what we are living now. Part mirror, part magnifying glass, part prism.  

He writes romance because we need more love in the world, and sometimes we need to know things will work out in the end. His first published romance will be Wings so Soft, coming in summer 2023.

What you will find in his books: Mystery. Darkness. Wonder. Action. Romance. Otherness examined and deconstructed. Queer and straight characters living and fighting side by side. Imaginary creatures and magic with a realistic touch.  

What you won’t find: Extreme violence. Sexual assault. Unquestioned sexism or discrimination. Evil races. Irredeemable villains. Predestined heroes. An ancient darkness that threatens to overspread the land.  

Interested? Check out The Maer Cycle trilogy (character-driven non-epic fantasy) or The Weirdwater Confluence duology (romantic fantasy with meditation magic).

Shadow Spark Publishing

Shadow Spark Publishing describe themselves as:

An Indie Publishing house looking to redefine what it takes to be successful in the industry, we develop relationships with our authors to bring their voices to the world.

From Fantasy to Sci-Fi, Romance to Horror to Poetry, we love anything & everything unexpectedly incredible & unique.


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