cover image A Tree of Bones: Volume Three of the Hexslinger Series

A Tree of Bones: Volume Three of the Hexslinger Series

Gemma Files. ChiZine (Diamond, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-926851-57-0

Apocalypse threatens on all sides in the rousing conclusion to Files's remarkable Hexslinger trilogy (after A Rope of Thorns), set in the post-Civil War American southwest. Magically-corrupt detective Allan Pinkerton's army, with its anti-magic devices and enslaved hexes, advances on the beleaguered Reverend Asher Rook's Hex City (a refuge for persecuted magic-wielders) as a group of women, including dead-speaker Yancy Kloves and the powerful but crippled Chinese hex, Songbird, struggle to aid Chess Pargeter's escape from the underworld. Throughout the proceedings, trickster god Tezcatlipoca roams free in Chess's body, only adding to the mischief. Underlying the plentiful gore are the moral dilemmas of both Pinkerton's more ethical agents and the hexes, whose freedom comes at the terrible price of blood-sacrifices to the goddess Ixchel. With her assemblage of strong female characters balancing the flamboyantly gay Chess and his former lovers, Files turns in a bravura performance, bringing a complex conflict among gods, monsters, hexes, and ordinary humans to a satisfying resolution. (May)