Finishing up my look at the books and authors in the Weird Western StoryBundle. The bundle is only available through September 8; don't miss out!
Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover
Hardboiled detective story meets westerns with suggestions of something deeper, timeless, and terrifying. A deceptively simple, haunting novel that left me wanting to know more about who U.S. Marshal John Marwood really is.
About the book:
Thermopylae. Masada. Agincourt. And now, Haxan, New Mexico Territory, circa 1874. Through a sea of time and dust, in places that might never be, or can't become until something is set right, there are people destined to travel. Forever. Marshal John T. Marwood is one of these men. Taken from a place he called home, he is sent to fight an eternal war. It never ends, because the storm itself, this unending conflict, makes the world we know a reality. Along with all the other worlds waiting to be born. Or were born, but died like a guttering candle in eternal night. . . . Haxan is the first in a series of novels. It's Lonesome Dove meets The Punisher . . . real, gritty, violent, and blatantly uncompromising.
About the author:
Kenneth Mark Hoover is a professional writer living in Dallas, TX. He has sold over 60 short stories and is a member of SFWA and HWA. His fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Strange Horizons, and many others.
A Book of Tongues (Hexslinger #1) by Gemma Files
For various reasons, I approached this book with some trepidadation, but at halfway through I'm glad to report that while raw, graphic, gritty, and told in large part through the point of view of the "villain" rather than the "good guy," A Book of Tongues is also great fun. The story is told in a unique, engaging voice with characters you love and love to hate at the same time. Note: while some books in the StoryBundle are suitable for teen/YA readers, this book is very much for adults only.
About the book:
Two years after the Civil War, Pinkerton agent Ed Morrow has gone undercover with one of the weird West's most dangerous outlaw gangs - the troop led by Reverend Asher Rook, ex-Confederate chaplain turned hexslinger, and his notorious lieutenant (and lover) Chess Pargeter. Morrow's task: get close enough to map the extent of Rook's power, then bring that knowledge back to help Professor Joachim Asbury unlock the secrets of magic itself.
Magicians, cursed by their gift to a solitary and painful existence, have never been more than a footnote in history. But Rook, driven by desperation, has a plan to shatter the natural law that prevents hexes from cooperation, and change the face of the world - a plan sealed by an unholy marriage-oath with the goddess Ixchel, mother of all hanged men. To accomplish this, he must raise her bloodthirsty pantheon from its collective grave through sacrifice, destruction, and apotheosis.
Caught between a passel of dead gods and monsters, hexes galore, Rook's witchery, and the ruthless calculations of his own masters, Morrow's only real hope of survival lies with the man without whom Rook cannot succeed: Chess Pargeter himself. But Morrow and Chess will have to literally ride through Hell before the truth of Chess's fate comes clear - the doom written for him, and the entire world.
About the author:
Gemma Files was born in London, England and raised in Toronto. Her story "The Emperor's Old Bones" won the 1999 International Horror Guild Award for Best Short Fiction. She has published two collections of short work (Kissing Carrionand The Worm in Every Heart, both Prime Books) and two chapbooks of poetry (Bent Under Night, from Sinnersphere Productions, and Dust Radio, from Kelp Queen Press). A Book of Tongues, her first Hexslinger novel, won the 2010 DarkScribe Magazine Black Quill Award for Small Press Chill, in both the Editors' and Readers' Choice categories. The two final Hexslinger novels, A Rope of Thorns and A Tree of Bones were published by ChiZine in 2011 and 2012. Since then, she has published We Will All Go Down Together, and Experimental Film, the latter of which won the 2015 Shirley Jackson Award, and has been nominated for the Sunburst Award.
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