A Book of Tongues - Gemma Files
Two years after the Civil War, Pinkerton agent Ed Morrow has gone undercover with one of the weird West's most dangerous outlaw gangs-the troop led by "Reverend" Asher Rook, ex-Confederate chaplain turned "hexslinger," and his notorious lieutenant (and lover) Chess Pargeter. Morrow's task: get close enough to map the extent of Rook's power, then bring that knowledge back to help Professor Joachim Asbury unlock the secrets of magic itself.
Magicians, cursed by their gift to a solitary and painful existence, have never been more than a footnote in history. But Rook, driven by desperation, has a plan to shatter the natural law that prevents hexes from cooperation, and change the face of the world-a plan sealed by an unholy marriage-oath with the goddess Ixchel, mother of all hanged men. To accomplish this, he must raise her bloodthirsty pantheon from its collective grave through sacrifice, destruction, and apotheosis.
Caught between a passel of dead gods and monsters, hexes galore, Rook's witchery, and the ruthless calculations of his own masters, Morrow's only real hope of survival lies with the man without whom Rook cannot succeed: Chess Pargeter himself. But Morrow and Chess will have to literally ride through Hell before the truth of Chess's fate comes clear-the doom written for him, and the entire world.
"(A) boundary-busting horror-fantasy debut . . . Files smoothly weaves an unusual magic system, Aztec mythology, and a raunchily explicit gay love story into a classic western tale of outlaws and revenge . . . this promising debut fully delivers both sizzling passions and dark chills."
"Files' poetic prose is pitch-perfect: languid, precise and full of dark imagery. . . . (A) brooding and deeply sinister novel, which will undoubtedly be a challenging read for some, but Files has definitely managed to create a world complex enough to sustain the series that this book initiates."
---Justine Warwick, Rue Morgue
"(T)he easily offended or those put off by a challenging narrative need not apply . . . Gangs of New York rubs against the cross-genre cheek of True Blood, mashed with a healthy dollop pf J.R.R. Tolkien by way of a dusty, mud- and semen-caked Deadwood . . . power-blending pulp fiction with profound, often poetic prose that does what all good horror fiction should do, which is mirror our collective humanity while jettisoning us into the black, blood-drenched ether . . . truly one-of-a-kind, violent, carnal and creepy."
---Chris Alexander, Fangoria
"Even Clint Eastwood's stoic gunslinger from those spaghetti westerns might blanch at some of the doings here, as Files describes them with a graphic, unflinching eloquence . . . But a kind of natural poetry runs through even the worst of it, combined with an imaginative view of magic. It's there in the title taken from one of its epigraphs, a poem by Gwendolen MacEwen. That quote opens with the title phrase and ends: 'Beware! I know a language so beautiful and lethal / My mouth bleeds when I speak it.' Such an image transcends mere gore, and so does this debut novel."
---Faren Miller, Locus Magazine