A Rope of Thorns: Volume Two of the Hexslinger Series

You must let blood to get blood.

New Mexico, 1867. As consort to resurrected Mayan goddess Ixchel, hexslinger Reverend Asher Rook has founded Hex City, the first place in all of human history where magicians can live and work together safely. But this tenuous peace is is threatened by the approach of Rook's former lover, Chess Pargeter, bent on revenge over Rook's betrayal, as he kills his way toward the very same spot, dragging Pinkerton agent-turned-outlaw Ed Morrow along with him. Because Chess, sacrificed in Ixchel's name, has become far more than just a hex: his very presence has torn a crack in the world, remaking everything around him. And as the cycle of Chess's power approaches its climax, Chess, Morrow, and a young spiritualist named Yancey Colder—caught up in Chess's vendetta—will all have to shed yet more blood as they face down his mysterious patron demon, known only as the Enemy . . . along with every other enemy Chess has already made along the way.

Reviews of A Rope of Thorns: Volume Two of the Hexslinger Series:

Potent mythology, complex characters, and dollops of creeping horror and baroque gore establish Files's Hexslinger series as a top-notch horror-fantasy saga.
For those who yearn for the next Harry Potter-like series, be warned; the brave and resourceful Harry would have been dead and his body desecrated and defiled within five minutes in Files' universe. . . . Where is Files going with all this? I cannot tell, except that the finale will no doubt be apocalyptic in scope, a battle which will make Potter's last stand at Hogwarts seem a slap fight between fifth graders.
This sequel to A Book of Tongues paints a stark, vivid, and gory picture of the 'wild west' in the years following the Civil War. . . . Filled with antiheroes, sacrificial victims, and supernatural beings, Files’s latest is not for the squeamish but should delight fans of gothic Western fantasy and Central American myths.
For all that it is character driven, this is a book that is full of sound and fury, as gods and magicians go head to head in epic battles that transmute the warp and weft of reality itself. Files commits to the page scenes so vivid that they will brand themselves on the reader’s mind . . . She has produced a luminous and uncompromising fantasy series, one that is awash in blood and shot through with remorseless brutality, but also peppered with scenes of striking originality, a narrative that should appeal to horror fans and all those who adore anything that is different. Succinctly, I loved it from first word to last.
—Black Static
The worldbuilding is glorious too, so deeply believable it seems almost real, like the best of historically-set fantasy. Files’s hexes and gods fit perfectly into the mythology of the Old West that grows in the American psyche. Not just the old stereotypical Hollywood version, either—this series fits right into the modern bleak Western tradition. It reminds me of Deadwood, True Grit, Carnivale.
One of the things I like best about these books is the character development. The author creates characters that you love, or love to hate, with depth and quirks.
I am surely addicted, and this new addiction has a name–Gemma Files. We had company over the weekend, company I adore and hadn’t seen in a year, and I still snuck in bits of this audio book. The author spins together imagery that is breath-taking in both beauty and terror.
Files pulls something from the liquid dark with this text, playing with audience desires and the twining of horror and delight.

Other Reviews

goodreads 4.15/5 stars more...

Author Info

Gemma Files was born in London, England and raised in Toronto. Her story “The Emperor’s Old Bones” won the 1999 International Horror Guild Award for Best Short Fiction. She has published two collections of short work (Kissing Carrion and The Worm in Every Heart, both Prime Books) and two chapbooks of poetry (Bent Under Night, from Sinnersphere Productions, and Dust Radio, from Kelp Queen Press). A Book of Tongues, her first Hexslinger novel, won the 2010 DarkScribe Magazine Black Quill Award for Small Press Chill, in both the Editors’ and Readers’ Choice categories. The two final Hexslinger novels, A Rope of Thorns and A Tree of Bones were published by ChiZine Publications in 2011 and 2012.

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