cover image A Rope of Thorns

A Rope of Thorns

Gemma Files. ChiZine (Diamond, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (350p) ISBN 978-1-926851-14-3

Sacrificed to the bloodthirsty Aztec goddess Ixchel, flamboyantly queer outlaw Chess Pargeter is reborn and filled with a god's dark power in the powerful sequel to 2010's A Book of Tongues. Ixchel takes Chess's ex-lover Rev. Asher Rook as her hexslinger consort, and they create the magical city of New Azteclan in the desert and summon all hexes there. Meanwhile, Chess and ex-Pinkerton detective Ed Morrow are pursued south by the vengeful revenant Mesach Love, with fast-growing, magical Weed covering the ground in Chess's wake. A slow start yields to a spectacular blend of Aztec religion and Western gunslinging in a richly detailed cycle of blood and sacrifice that eventually draws in the great Pinkerton himself. Potent mythology, complex characters, and dollops of creeping horror and baroque gore establish Files's Hexslinger series as a top-notch horror-fantasy saga. (June)