Review: A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files

A Book of Tongues (Hexslinger #1) by Gemma FilesHow did I get it: Bought it awhile back.

Why did I get it: Initially I saw this on display at my library in the Adult Fiction section, but once I realized what all it was about? I had to own it. And honestly, I’ve actually read this book several times and couldn’t come up with an adequate review, but now that A Book of Tongues has been nominated for a Locus Award, I figured I’d give it a try. The book will also count towards my Horror & Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge for 2011.

How I would rate it: 5 out of 5 stars.


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. Because magicians, despite their awesome powers, have never been more than a footnote in history: cursed by their own gift to flower in pain and misery, then feed vampirically on each other-never able to join forces, feared and hated by all.

But Rook, driven by desperation, has a mind to shatter the natural law that prevents hexes from cooperation, and change the face of the world-a plan sealed by unholy marriage-oath with the Mayan-Aztec goddess Ixchel, mother of all hanged men, who has chosen Rook to raise her bloodthirsty pantheon from its collective grave through sacrifice, destruction, and apotheosis.

Caught between a passle 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, in A Book of Tongues.

Review: Wow. Just wow. I didn’t expect anything less but utterly incredible things from this book after reading its backcover, but even so, I think this book exceeded my wildest dreams by leaps and bounds. I have been a fan of westerns, gay gunslingers, horror, Pinkerton agents, crazy priests, and Mayan/Aztec culture for ages, but I never expected to see them put together in such an awesome way. And I’ve been meaning to write this review for a long time and have even read this book several times over, but in the end the words just are not really there because it is extremely hard to write a review when one’s mind has been blown.

I don’t even know what to say that would do this book justice. A Book of Tongues was flawless, fun, original, dark, haunting, chilling, and so very vivid that once I finished it, I re-read every section about five more times because Files’ writing is fantastic. Every character is so complex that, even if you don’t like them, there’s nothing else to do but read and read. But Rook and Chess and what ultimately becomes of their love was really what made this story so power, so sad, and so absolutely amazing. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to poor Morrow too.

Basically my only complaint is I needed the next two books in this series yesterday, but I sort of love having that problem as a reader. There is no book like this out right now, and I absolutely crave more.

In conclusion, so, so awesome! I absolutely cannot wait for A Rope of Thorns. In the mean time, I will be trying to devour everything else Gemma Files has ever written. I have a lot of lost time to make up for.

About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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8 Responses to Review: A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files

  1. S says:

    I’ve been wanting to read this for a while. ChiZine puts out some great stuff (I love their covers, too).

  2. Oh wow. Such praise! Thanks for the great review. I’ve not heard of this book before. Sounds great. 🙂

    • It is definitely awesome, but I think the fact that it’s from a smaller press might make it a little more difficult to find. Definitely worth finding though. Glad you liked the review!

  3. Great blog, Just wanted to comment that i can not connect to the rss stream, you might want install the right wordpress plugin for that to workthat.

  4. Pingback: Best Reads of 2011 (So Far) | CSI: Librarian

  5. Pingback: Best Reads of 2011 – Adult Fiction | CSI: Librarian

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