Prequel ebooks often get overlooked. They have weird volume numbers like 0.5 or 0 and can be harder to find than the main books in a series. They sometimes take places in different times or locations than the regular books, or they follow different characters. But they shouldn’t be ignored, because they’re great for several reasons:
- They’re usually either free or extremely cheap, saving your wallet.
- They’re generally short story or novella-length, so you can finish them fast and feel accomplished.
- If you like the prequel, you now have a brand new full-length series you can read!
- If you don’t like the prequel, it’s not like you invested a lot of time and money.
Like browsing for any new book, trying a prequel for an unknown series can be hit or miss. So to save you the trouble of scouring the internet for good ones, let me get you started with five urban fantasy prequels that I think are absolutely amazing.
by Jami Gray
When a questionable, but lucrative delivery job takes an unexpected turn, will Rory survive the collision or crash and burn?
Rory Costas, Premier Transporter, has a plan for her future and the first step includes getting out from under her debt to the Arcane Guild. When an anonymous party offers a lucrative side job with shady details and a hefty paycheck, the professional implications of a successful delivery override her personal reservations.
The seemingly simple contract takes a challenging turn when two mercenary mage crews attempt to seize the package and permanently divert Rory’s delivery. When she realizes her package is the ultimate prize in a lethal battle of magical heavyweights, she must choose between salvaging her reputation or her conscience.
With her reputation and life on the line, will Rory survive a hazardous delivery or end up buried under the wreckage?
This book is basically The Transporter movie meets an urban fantasy novel, and I LOVE it for that. The main character’s motivation is to make enough money to pay off what are essentially magical student loan debts, which I’m sure many readers these days can relate to. While she’s a bit morally gray, when her sketchy job goes past a line she won’t cross, she doesn’t hesitate to do the right thing. And she’s your typical urban fantasy protagonist whose snarky mouth moves faster than her brain.
She also has a secret magical power, which I won’t spoil beyond saying it comes in handy since almost every character she meets is trying to kill her.
The plot is fast-paced and feels appropriately like a paranormal action movie. It’s a complete story, so you don’t have to worry about cliffhangers, though the shadowy villain’s motivations are left ambiguous, presumably to be uncovered in a later book.
I for one will definitely be reading later books.
Get the Ebook…
For free by signing up for the author’s mailing list.
by Melissa Erin Jackson
Camila Fletcher has made a career out of finding missing people. Despite being a full-blooded human, she’s often contacted by members of the fae population hiding amongst mundanes. When a young fae girl asks for help finding her sister, Camila is thrust into an investigation that involves much more than one missing girl…
In my mind, a good prequel has to do three things. First, introduce a likeable protagonist. Second, transport the reader to an interesting world. And third, provide a satisfying plot. Veiled Threats does all three and does them excellently.
Camila’s job is one of my favorite tropes: the paranormal private investigator. She’s a caring individual and doesn’t hesitate to help a young woman who asks her to find her missing sister.
Camila and her husband discovered the existence of the supernatural years earlier and often take these kinds of jobs. They’re making a decent living but have received an invitation to work with a mysterious supernatural organization and go deeper into their hidden world. It’s risky but also represents better job security, and since Camila recently discovered she’s pregnant, she’s under even more pressure to make the best life possible for her child.
But that’s all background stuff. The main plot is the search for the missing fae girl, and it’s a good paranormal mystery/thriller story. The stakes are high, and there’s a ticking time bomb looming over the characters if they don’t find the girl in time. The book is short and satisfying, and the main series follows Camila’s daughter.
I just started reading Book 1. 🙂
Get the Ebook…
For free at the following retailers:
From the Ashes
by Lisa Edmonds
More Magic. More Danger. More Scotch.
You’re probably wondering how I ended up in jail with no magic. Believe it or not, it started in a used bookstore called McCann’s, just after lunch…
Meet Alice Worth. Mage private investigator, smart-ass, whisky connoisseur. As a PI who follows her own code, Alice has done plenty of things that might have landed her in jail, but she never expected to end up handcuffed to a table in an interrogation room on her day off. The situation goes from merely inconvenient to deadly serious when she discovers nothing about the crime she’s accused of is what it seems.
I read Book 1 in the Alice Worth series before I read the prequel, so it’s a little hard to judge this story on its own merits since I was already a fan of the protagonist and world. But I still think this is a good introduction to Alice and her series.
Alice’s first-person narration immediately gives you a sense of her personality. The story also gives you a good taste of the world she lives in, where everyone knows about magic and it’s simply a part of daily life. When Alice gets arrested, she’s required by law to inform the police she’s a mage, and they slap magic-suppressing handcuffs on her. Oh, and story starts out in a (magical) used bookstore that sounds amazing and makes me wish it was a real place.
The mystery of the book is why and how Alice was framed for a crime. The climax isn’t a fight scene, as the antagonists are so powerful that Alice can’t physically fight them. She has to use her wits and talk her way to freedom, which is no less tense and exciting than a magical battle, believe me.
The best part about From the Ashes is that it sets up Alice’s character arc and the growth she’ll have to make in the main series. Character development! It’s the true magic of storytelling.
Get the Ebook…
For free by joining the author’s mailing list. (FYI, the ebooks for the main series are only available on Amazon.)
by Shelley Russell Nolan
Never say no to the Grim Reaper
After twenty-five years working as a reaper, Ash is looking forward to fulfilling his contract and being reborn with a clean slate. When he refuses a job that would put his rebirth in jeopardy, he is cast out of the comfortable afterlife he’d built for himself in the Underworld. Ash must fight for his last five reaps. Not an easy task when the Grim Reaper wants to shred his soul.
Will Ash have what it takes to cheat Death?
Full disclosure: in the beginning of this book, I had trouble getting engaged with the story and main character. But once the plot kicked off in earnest, I couldn’t put the book down.
A protagonist needs a clear goal in a story, and Ash has one: reap his last five souls, get reborn, and forget his past life and time as a reaper as he starts fresh. But there would be no story if achieving that goal was easy. After Ash refuses to kill a woman on the Grim Reaper’s orders, the Grim Reapers sends out a literal army of malevolent reapers to stop Ash from reaping his final souls and bringing them to the afterlife. Things get super tense and fast-paced, and you’re really cheering for Ash to succeed.
I won’t spoil how it ends, but the main series seems to follow the woman Ash was ordered to kill for mysterious reasons, though Ash himself still plays a part.
Get the Ebook…
For free at the following retailers:
Rites of Passage
by Amber Fisher
What can a necromancer do when the dying won’t die?
Kezia Bernard is a natural-born necromancer who comforts the dying, guiding them to their ancestors on the other side.
But when a witch doctor with a rare talent prevents Kezia’s sick, elderly patients from dying, Kezia is the only person who can end his cruel manipulation of life, suffering, and death.
The only problem? The witch doctor in question is already dead.
With hoodoo and death magic at her fingertips, a living opponent would be no match for Kezia. But when life is used as a weapon, will necromancy be enough to lay the suffering to rest?
This book was on my list of top urban fantasy reads from last year. It’s a good-sized novella with plenty of story to sink your teeth into. It also has one of the most interesting takes on necromancy that I’ve ever read.
Kezia isn’t a private investigator, bounty hunter, or monster slayer like many urban fantasy protagonists. She works in a nursing home, and her powers help dying patients move on to the afterlife. So when a sinister magic prolongs her patients’ suffering and stops them from dying at their natural time, Kezia has a problem.
Rites of Passage has a great mystery with a twist I didn’t see coming (but probably should have, since it was foreshadowed). It’s fun exploring this world and how magic works in it, and the scenes of Kezia using her powers are particularly cool.
The book has a satisfying conclusion but introduces a few dangling threads that will make you eager to continue the series.
Get the Ebook…
For 99¢ at most of the following retailers, but $3.99 on Amazon at the moment. (FYI, the ebooks for the main series are only available on Amazon.)
Do you have a favorite urban fantasy prequel? Shout it out in the comments!