Where I Got It: From the publisher through Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!)
Who I Recommend This To: Folks who like Westerns, historical fantasies, desert Southwest, detailed love scenes.
Narrator: Gordon MacKenzie
Publisher: Iambik Audio (2010)
Length: 10 hours 58 minutes
Series: Book 1 in the Hexslinger series
Wow! It is awesome when one stumbles upon a new, unheard of author and falls in love with their work. This is the story of how it happened for me with Gemma Files. This nitty-gritty Western cum hex-slinging fantasy is spice-rubbed all over with some steaming hot homoerotic love scenes. The scenery is 1860s US, Southwest desert. Reverend Asher Rook and soldier Chess Pargeter start off in the army, in a small section about to engage in a loosing battle. Chess kills the commanding officer to prevent that loosing battle, but his actions force the small band of soldiers to become outlaws. Eventually Rook is caught and hung, at which point he has a vision of a evil Goddess with questionable dress code (skulls, snake skins, etc.). Rook comes out of that hanging with his Hex skills in full blossom. As he learns to use his newfound witchcraft powers, he ends up killing bystanders and leveling small towns (and not always by accident).
After a series of such events, Ed Morrow is sent by Mr. Pinkerton to infiltrate the Rook gang and provide intel back to the Pinkerton network. Ed is straight up guy, one of the good ones. He witnesses several acts that he is uncomfortable with and eventually becomes ensnared in this business with Rook’s evil ancient Aztec goddess, Ixchel. Where Rook is level headed most of the time, Chess is volcanic and vicious. These two lovers make an odd match, their strengths and weaknesses bouncing off one another. I found myself looking forward to the next encounter between these two – will Rook be able to rein in Chess? Will Chess get his way by lashing out? This book was intense through and through. Also, at the beginning of the book, I didn’t really care for Chess; By the end, I was cheering for him.
Gordon MacKenzie was an awesome narrator. He did this deep cowboy bur for Rook and this younger, whipcord voice for Chess. Ed got a level, comforting voice like this personality. MacKenzie also did a great job of pulling off all the foreign words and dialects, from Chinese to Native American to ancient Aztec.
What I Liked: The oddity of the whole thing; Ixchel is a personification of evil and done very well; none of the characters are black and white – they are all complicated; Gordon MacKenzie’s narration was excellent; the love scenes were detailed and hot; several strong female characters; for a Western, not everyone is white and straight.
What I Disliked: The book leaps around a bit in time and this threw me off on the first leap for a chapter.