cover image A Book of Tongues

A Book of Tongues

Gemma Files, . . ChiZine, $16.95 (274pp) ISBN 978-0-9812978-6-6

A Pinkerton detective infiltrates a Wild West gang led by a spell-casting preacher in this boundary-busting horror–fantasy debut. Agent Ed Morrow is dispatched by a professor of magical research to evaluate the “hexslinging” abilities of Rev. Asher Rook, a renegade chaplain who survived his own hanging, and his lover, the prickly sharpshooter Chess Pargeter. As Morrow becomes part of the gang, the Aztec goddess Ixchel slowly seduces Rook into a bloody ritual marriage that endangers Pargeter and leads their followers down a road to hell. 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. Though it grows somewhat cumbersome in the leadup to a cliffhanger that demands resolution in the planned sequel, this promising debut fully delivers both sizzling passions and dark chills. (May)