Recently I showcased some amazing Vellas (serialized stories on Amazon) with a fantastic first page hook. This month I’m giving a shout out to some speculative Vellas that cross numerous genres without watering down those genres’ best features.
As always, the Vellas vetted on my website are guaranteed to be Vgood (*I own the rights to the word “Vgood” by the way). Perhaps more importantly, these Vellas probably won’t cross any of your personal boundaries, unlike so many of the serials on Wattpad and Reddit.
Also, if you’re new to Kindle Vella, the good news is you’ll likely get anywhere from 2-5 dollars in free tokens to start! (No one is exactly sure how the Zon gods make these decisions.) And of course, the first three episodes of any Kindle Vella are free to read/download.
My very favorite Vella pick for this week is Charlotte and the Demons by Vella newcomer Alethea Eason. Eason, a member of Borderlands Writers, has two traditionally-published middle grade novels as well as an indie magical realism set as young adult. But in Charlotte, Eason writes for adults through the eyes of a child. Here’s her blurb:
“In 1965, eight year-old Charlotte is visited one night by Ezequiel, a young demon with a halo, who teaches her how to win at cards and to let her know her bedroom closet is a door to Hell. Three powerful demons will emerge to enjoy and manipulate the Las Vegas gambling scene and get in cahoots with Charlotte’s father, a cop on the LVPD vice squad. As time passes, Charlotte finds darkness overwhelming her. Ezequiel, though a demon, may offer her the only path to get out of hell.”
Eason’s Vella showcases a whip-smart, poetic voice and a hero who will make you remember what it was like to experience the world through young and imaginative eyes. A cross between magical realism, historical fiction, and a Raymond Chandler novel, Charlotte and the Demons has a noir feel while showcasing Eason’s seemingly effortless capacity for surprise and wit. Another benefit of Eason’s series is that the first three (free) episodes are quite long, and you’ll be fully immersed and impressed by the time you have to decide if you want to continue.
Next I present The Fern and the Rose by Andrew L. Hicks, a Vella series that crosses as many genre boundaries as it does mindscapes.
Hicks’ blurb claims: “No one can avoid their destiny forever. Bedbound and shut away from the world by a mysterious lifelong illness, Rei Fern can’t imagine a life free of pain, depression, and hopelessness. It is the persistent friendship of his loyal caregiver and an unlikely encounter with a powerful stranger, that springs forth Rei’s quest to find his rightful place in the grand tapestry of existence.”
The opening to Hicks’ series crackles with the warmth and wit of a Dickensian fireplace. Here we meet Rei Fern, a young man trapped by the confines of his own mental and spiritual malingering, and the good-hearted young Glenn who tends him. In fact, Glenn might be the most endearing and steadfast character we’ve met since Sam Gamgee, and he perfectly foils Rei’s self-absorbed and self-imposed misery. Soon we’re endeared to Rei as well as he embarks on an outdoor adventure and inner journey that would throw Joseph Campbell into a tailspin. Comedic, metafictional, and twisting genres every fifteen minutes like an REM funhouse, you’ll find you just have to know what kind of mind-trip-slash-fieldtrip Rei navigates in each new episode.
Lastly, I bring you another fantastic crossover series from N. Y. Seely called A Game of Leviathan. Her other Vella series, Who Wants to be a Sidekick, has been a top-crowned fave for months on the site.
Seely’s blurb is brief and confident: “In a realm beset by intrigue, murder, and betrayal, the contest for power is a deadly one, and the game is just beginning.”
What this blurb doesn’t tell you is how deftly Seely’s series combines her talents as a mystery writer (A Memory of Murder) with her considerable talent for high fantasy. Leviathan is brightly-conceived and wildly imagic Games of Thrones-type serial that doesn’t kill absolutely everyone or cause readers to need therapy afterwards. With elaborate worldbuilding around a unique matrilineal “Kingmother” premise, Seely’s three characters of “new adult” age range battle as gladiators, solve castle espionage, and escape to the high road to (literally) outrun their destinies. Each storyline is nuanced and satisfying, and Seely’s stellar use of medieval jargon and setting cues will have you feeling as if you’re right there with them in the Riverlands.
If you haven’t checked out Amazon Vella yet, don’t forget to cash in on your free tokens, and if you’re an author, check out my website where I update with tips for Vella author.
*I don’t own any rights to any words; I made that up.
Kendra Griffin is the author of the Vella series A People’s History of Magic, a genre crossing humorous science fantasy: imagine Community meets Umbrella Academy. Kendra is a presenter, professor, developmental editor (Status Quill) and the author of the young adult apocalyptic Pox Series. Kendra has never met a good dog or a good underdog she didn’t love, and she hopes you adopt a shelter pet.
Photo credit: Canva