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A Book of Tongues (The Hexslinger Series 1) Kindle Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the paperback edition.
“Experimental Film is sensational. When we speak of the best in contemporary horror and weird fiction, we must speak of Gemma Files.”
“Gemma Files has one of the great dark imaginations in fiction―visionary, transgressive, and totally original. With this new novel [Experimental Film], Files explores the world of film and horror in a way that will leave you reeling. A smart, sharp page-turner with heart and depth.”
“Gemma’s been producing top-notch horror stories for years, and her weird Western Hexslinger trilogy is chock full of hellish horrors.”
“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.”
―A Dab of Darkness (audiobook review)
- ASIN : B08F9G6182
- Publisher : Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (October 13, 2020)
- Publication date : October 13, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 7399 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 280 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0981297862
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #689,680 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This book starts off with a bang. It is not perfect - for one I find it lacked in subtlety a bit. But the concept was just so good. The magic system feels fresh and unique. Reverend Rook using passages from the Holy Bible as the base of his spells might have been my favorite part of the concept (or as I excidetly told my friend, someone's finally utilised HOW METAL the Old Testament is). Occasional weaving in of delightfully nightmarish Mesoamerican mythology was right up my alley. And the characters, of course - interesting, fleshed out, and unashamedly queer which is always a bonus in the lit world that either silences queer characters or makes things about their sexuality.
Like so many readers, I have qualms with the second part (and more specifically last third) of the book. As many pointed out, the pacing loses its rhythm, in fact i am reasonably sure that a single conversation occupied a 10% chunk of the book. While I enjoy Mesoamerican mythology, removing Rev's Bible spells was in my mind a huge mistake. And finally, finally, characters start acting in a way that make no sense, and the book makes a halfhearted attempt to explain it and immediately fails at it - sometimes it wants you to believe that all of the strange actions are Ixchel's influence or the hex, sometimes that none, and not in a good "waiting for plottwist reveal" way. I can frankly say I did not enjoy my slog through several chapters closer to the end there.
However, I enjoyed the rest of the book and I still would recommend it to lovers of horror fantasy, unusual mythology and magic system, and queer fantasy that is not about the big Q
Not so with A Book of Tongues Volume 1 (The Hexslinger Series) by Gemma Files. She not only knows the west, she brings it alive as part of a new and very different (and sometimes very disturbing) world. She not only gets the history right she gets the words people used back then, and their inflections, right. That's pretty rare for someone who wants to bring fantasy and speculative fiction to this genre. Like I said, ofttimes the west is just throwaway background. Files did her homework and I love that.
But the west, while integral, is not all there is to this world Files has created. There's a myriad of cultures intermixed with fantasy and sexual themes and while at times it might seem Files is bringing too much to the plate, at least she keeps it consistent. That, too, is rather unusual. Again, many fantasy writers throw magic against a wall to see what sticks. Files not only makes her magic work, but it has consequences and cultural influences you often don't see in other weird west stories. Or any fantasy stories for that matter.
There's a lot to like about this novel, but there are some problems, too. Because she brings so much to the world, so many varied cultures, it sometimes comes across as forced. We don't get to spend as much time with some characters as we would like, because Files has to keep the story moving.
What I mean is, you can tell she's going that extra mile to make the setting stark and unusual by bringing so much into the mix. Which is unnecessary because almost everything about the story is stark and unusual. She runs the gamut from Mayans to Christianity, gay sex to shootouts, dark magic to Steampunk. She gets it right and it's believable and it all hangs together, but it came across as too much. Not heavy-handed, mind you, not at all. But a little forced.
Another thing, and this is only a stylistic choice, one of the characters in the novel, the Rainbow Lady, has her thoughts presented in bold type. It jumps off the page and I found it distracting. But, seriously, that's only a stylistic choice and not a reason to pass this book by.
The setting is fantastic and all the characters are interesting, some more than others. I really liked Ed Morrow, the Pinkerton agent, and the wonderful twelve-year old Albino mage, Songbird. They both are wonderful and I would like to read more about them.
Since the book sets itself up for an obvious sequel on the last page I suggest you get on board now. There's a lot here to like. Give it a peek.
Highly recommended, but not if you can't handle some violence.
Top reviews from other countries
This tale of hexslingers - bandits with incredible magical abilities - and the risks they pose for agencies like the Pinkertons, with characters as well realised as the central pairing of Rook and Chess, should have sucked me in. Instead it lost me early by its refusal to engage with normality, or linger on the consequences of the extreme events being played out. Characters bounce from one extravagant emotional or supernatural trauma to the next, and through environments so strange that the nominal setting of America in the 1800s is quickly forgotten. It’s flensing all the way down, and when the book crescendos on a cliffhanger that makes clear the entire world is under threat I found it difficult to care, because the entire world was long ago and far away, and hadn’t mattered much for a long time.
The story is a beautifully described thing, and intricate in its internal structure and rhythms, but at the same time it feels vain and uncaring. Too well written to abandon, I found myself exhausted for the wrong reasons by the final page.
The book is filled with Aztec mythology and lyrically gruesome descriptions of the life these outlaws lead. But it is the character development which made me give this book such a high rating because by the end of the book, the characters have acquired a depth and a resonance that made me truly feel their struggle in a place where life is cheap and disposable. Chess's rage and sheer hurt at the betrayal he'd been dealt is equally enthralling and believable and made me love this character which I would have normally shied away from. Rook, especially as we see his journey from somewhat meek preacher to desperate man in love all the way to vile villain, made me understand him and sympathise with him as he loved chess, and essentially just wanted to keep him safe. I felt for the characters. That says a lot, because in some other books I've read, I haven't developed any kind of empathy like this to characters who are thieves and murders.
All I know, is that Gemma Files has written a story that lives and breathes. And that I appreciate.I love Chess he is broken by betrayal and the fact that his is a whoreson but he lives by his own rules and that is the difference between him and Rook, he lives by his own set of rules. However deep down I think he still knows Rook is his and he is Rooks.
What an amazing book, go and read it and read something different and unique
Its something not like a anything I have read before.
To say more might give the story away. As it's not easy
to say what it is about