A Tree of Bones: Volume Three of the Hexslinger Series Paperback – May 15 2012
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About the Author
Born in London, England and raised in Toronto, Canada, Gemma Files has been an awardwinning horror writer for over twenty years, as well as a film critic, screenwriter and teacher. She has published two collections of short work: KISSING CARRION (2003) and THE WORM IN EVERY HEART (2004), both from Wildside Press. She has also written two chapbooks of poetry. Her first novel, A BOOK OF TONGUES: VOLUME ONE OF THE HEXSLINGER SERIES, won the 2010 Black Quill award for "Best Small Press Chill" (Editors' and Readers' Choice) from DARKSCRIBE MAGAZINE, and was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. Its sequel, A ROPE OF THORNS (2011), along with A TREE OF BONES (2012), complete a trilogy which is really one narrative broken into three instalments. For her next trick, she looks forward to writing something different.
Learn more about Gemma Files at her official website, musicatmidnightgfiles.blogspot.com, or more than you probably want to know at her blog, handful_ofdust.livejournal.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I can't really talk about the plot without giving away some major spoilers, but it is more than just a horror story. It is densely written, layered with meaning and the entire trilogy is handsomely resolved at the end and leaves room for the author to continue writing more stories set in this universe (and I hope she does.)
The reason it only gets 4 stars is it really slows down in middle of the third book as we spend far too much time waiting with some of the characters for the protagonist to get a move on. I actually liked the guy, but he is not the brightest character and I kept wishing he would just hurry up so I could get to the main blow-out at the end.
Also, for those of you not in the know, this trilogy does contain a m/m love story, more or less.
Those of you looking for a unique, dark (and it is very dark) and compelling romance may want to check this out.
Chess was... Not likeable, but interesting, because he had a heart but a broken sense of conscience and empathy. The character he becomes by 50% through this book isn't interesting, he is just another paranormal good guy. She fixed all of the broken parts of him and ruined the character entirely.
Authors love to reunite estranged parent/child pairs. Unfortunately they really don't seem to *understand* the legacy of abuse enough to do so without turning it into a forgiveness trope entirely lacking in understanding of forgiveness. Children don't estrange themselves from their parents because they are angry over the past, they do so because parents don't generally stop being abusive just because their children are grown. This author, who put so much thought into so many aspects of this book, completely missed the point. Abusive parents generally do "love" their children. The fact that the author made Chess's realization that his mother felt love for him the cornerstone of an epiphany is just so shallow given that she had written the character of Oona (the mother) as being *still* verbally abusive right up until that point. Then suddenly they are OK together. Because he realized HE HAD IT ALL WRONG! She wasn't a mother who had sold her son into prostitution, physically injured him, torn him down from every side. She loved him! She had kept him alive and he had to love her for that! Hearts and flowers! Once he *understood* her, she stopped abusing him (after all, it was his fault her life was so bad in the first place. If she hadn't gotten pregnant, all kinds of bad things would never have happened to her). I found the whole set-up offensive, and it was the start of a downhill slide, by the end of which Chess was not even recognizable as a character. Not because he had changed- character growth is a good thing, but because he had *transformed.*
I would not have read this trilogy, honestly, if I had known she would spend half of the last book moralizing in such narrow and unremarkable ways. I was looking forward to a creative ending and what I got was a formula romance ending. The religious nuts all find tolerance, the bad guys all turn perfect or find final justice, and everyone lives happily ever after. Blech.
Just finished it. The first one was ok, but had a lot of problems. The second one was much better. The third one was fantastic in every way.
The characters were so well developed, the plot so original and exiting. Not to mention the writing, which was just beautiful.
This was a crazy trilogy, with a lot of violence and hard moments, but it was so very worth it.
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of Weird West, horror, those interested in Meso-American religious practices
Trigger Warnings for Book 3: killing, human sacrifice, bullying, non PC language
My Thoughts on Book 3: This really is a most satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. Watching Chess's evolution has been quite amazing, and I've also quite enjoyed seeing how Yancey and Ed and Songbird all grew and changed through the course of the trilogy.
These books are very LGBTQ oriented, with a number of characters from the QUILTBAG included, as well as the inherent hostility toward them of the time. Still, it was refreshing to see a piece set during the late 19th century that was open and honest about the existence of all types.
Ultimately there is not a lot I can say here without there ending up with spoilers, so I'll just say that I really did enjoy this book—this whole trilogy—quite a lot. Watch for my review of the omnibus, which also includes a bonus short story.
Series Information: The Hexslinger Series
Book 1: A Book of Tongues, review linked here
Book 2: A Rope of Thorns, review linked here
Book 3: A Tree of Bones
Disclosure: I received a copy of the omnibus from ChiZine in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: New Mexico, 1867: Months have passed since hexslinger Chess Pargeter sacrificed himself to restore the town of Bewelcome, once cursed to salt by his former lover, "Reverend" Asher Rook. Now a coalition led by Allan Pinkerton's Detective Agency lays siege to reborn Mayan goddess Ixchel's notorious "Hex City," the one place on earth where hexes can act in concert, and the desert just outside Bewelcome has become the front line in what threatens to become a new Civil War—one in which wild magic and black science clash headlong, producing carnage like nothing the world has ever seen!
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