The Hexslinger Omnibus review
Author: Gemma Files
5 out of 5 stars
Book Info: Genre: Weird Western/Supernatural Horror/Steampunk
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of Weird West, horror, those interested in Meso-American religious practices
Trigger Warnings for series: murder (including mass murder), killing, execution, non PC language, fighting, violence, suicide, explicit M/M sex (first book only), human sacrifice, self injury, giant spiders
Animal Injuries: several horses are killed during a melee
My Thoughts on Omnnibus: The omnibus includes the Hexslinger trilogy as well as three bonus short stories, “Hexmas”., “Like a Bowl of Fire”, and “In Scarlet Town (Today)”. I have written individual reviews for each of the books in the trilogy, so for more detail on any given book, check that out. I will use this review to talk about the series as a whole, and also to review the three short stories.
One of the things I really liked about this series is the characters, and character development. Some of these people are really quite horrible human beings at the beginning, like Songbird and Chess Pargeter, yet they grow and change through the course of the series in such as way as to begin on a path to redemption. Others start out good people, like Ash Rook and Mesach Love, only to fall out of grace through one reason or another. I liked that the author was willing to make that sort of gamble. While I imagine there will be plenty of people for whom this series is definitely not their cup of tea, but for those who might like a Weird Western with some gay romance, well, this should fulfill that nicely.
As far as the short stories:
“Hexmas” is set 6 or 7 years after the events of the main trilogy. Ed Morrow and Yancey Colder Kloves are homesteading in the desert on a plot that Chess helped set up, but a new neighbor—a hex woman from Iceland—is causing trouble for them due to her fear that Yancey is a hex and will try to destroy her. To make things even more tricky, Yancey is close to delivering her first child, and afraid the neighbor woman will kill the babe upon its birth. Chess, recently elected Sheriff of Hexicas, comes to visit just in time. This short is more lighthearted, at least at the beginning, than a lot of the trilogy, and that was nice to see. It was also neat to see how Ed and Yancey have been keeping themselves during the time in question. There is mention that Yancey has been using her dead-speaker skills to try to learn more about her heritage, both from her father's Jewish tradition, and her mother's Romani.
“Like a Bowl of Fire” is set shortly after the events of the trilogy. Chess is traveling with Charlie, the young man he meets in the epilogue of book 3. They have traveled back east, where a local man has pointed them toward a section of land on which nothing will grow. Anything that goes there burns, be it a person or a plant. Chess and Charlie have to figure out why this is happening and try to stop it. During this short, we find out that Charlie has a special way with the arachnorses, the large spiders born from the giant spider in the third book, which are being trained as mounts. We also see how Chess has grown in his wisdom over the years.
“In Scarlet Town (Today)” takes place about a year before “Hexmas”. The leaders of Hexicas summon Chess to help them solve a murder, which should be impossible due to the Oath that all hexes must take to live in Hex City. Chess uncovers a cauldron of bad feelings between the hexes and the so-called “naturals”, upon whom many of the hexes look down and consider inferior, while the “naturals” are resentful of their treatment but feel they are stuck there and unable to leave. Charlie does as much to solve this as Chess.
I really did enjoy all the short stories, which gave a more in-depth look at some of the people from the series, as well as catching the reader up on them since the end of the series. Fans of the trilogy might want to purchase the omnibus mainly so they can read these stories, if for no other reason. I really have enjoyed reading these stories and look forward to whatever this author might come up with next. Watch for a guest post from the author, and a giveaway, coming on Friday on my blog!
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, review linked here
Disclosure: I received a copy of the omnibus from ChiZine in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Omnibus Synopsis: It’s 1867, and the Civil War is over. But the blood has just begun to flow.
For Asher Rook, Chess Pargeter, and Ed Morrow, the war has left its mark in tangled lines of association and cataclysmic love, woken hexslinger magic, and the terrible attentions of a dead god. “Reverend” Asher Rook is the unwilling gateway for the Mayan goddess Ixchel to birth her pantheon back into the world of the living, and to do it she’ll force Rook to sacrifice his lover and fellow outlaw Chess Pargeter. But being dead won’t bar Chess from taking vengeance, and Pargeter will claw his way back out of Hell, teaming with undercover-Pinkerton-agent-turned-outlaw Ed Morrow to wreak it. What comes back into the world in the form of Chess Pargeter is a walking wound, Chess’s very presence tearing a crack in the world and reshaping everything around him while Ixchel establishes Hex City, a city state defying the very laws of nature—an act that will draw battle lines between a passel of dead gods and monsters, hexes galore, spiritualists, practitioners of black science, a coalition set against Ixchel led by Allan Pinkerton himself, and everyone unfortunate enough to be caught between the colliding forces. None of which will stop Chess from hunting down Rook, now consort to Ixchel, even if he has to rip the world apart to do it.
With the barriers between worlds crumbling, a new war being waged across the American West, and Ixchel preparing to kick off an Apocalypse fed by shed human blood while Rook plots one, final, redemptive treachery of his own, everything will come down to Chess Pargeter, once again trapped in a nightmarish underworld. But Chess has fought his way out of hell before. . . .