I'm going to do something a little different with this review. I've been so busy with writing, work, and the holidays that I've actually been able to read both books currently in the Hexslinger series, so instead of reviewing them individual I'm going to put up a combined evaluation.
Let's see how it goes.
Okay, first book is A Book Of Tongues. Second is A Rope Of Thorns. So first off we can see a common naming convention; they're both a something of something. The next in the series, A Tree Of Bones is now available for pre-order. Gotta love consistency.
Another thing that's consistent, the books are pretty good. At times a bit dense with their descriptions, but filled with monstrous and interesting characters. Chess, the main character, is a prime example. At best he's a protagonist, and even that's a stretch at times as it could be argued he's the worst monster in the series. A lawless, murderous fiend with a dark secret even he doesn't know about, Chess is a force of nature contained in a red-haired, purple clothed dandy wielding two pistols.
I read elsewhere that Gemma Files creates characters that are monsters and then makes you care about them. In this case she's successful. I won't go into details, but let's just say you can almost feel it when Chess has his heart ripped away. (I'll let you guess if it's figuratively or literally.)
I recommend this series with one major caveat; be prepared for gay characters and more sexual detail than you may desire. This threw me for a loop when I first came across it. Outside of works specifically directed to a gay audience it's unusual to find that level of detail, and at first it can be uncomfortable for the reader if they're not prepared. You may be tempted to put the book down. Don't. Try to understand why your feelings and move past them, as the sex is part of who these characters are and removing it would leave a gaping hole in the narrative.
These scenes do border on erotica. The only reason they don't reach that level is because they are brief and not the central theme of the books. They surprised me for two reasons, their level of detail and because I normally don't read erotica, gay or otherwise. If any part of this is going to upset you, you may want to pass on this series. However, before you do, consider why it bothers you. If it's because the sex is man on man, ask why that upsets you or strikes you as wrong. I know I had to do some soul searching because of it, and I'd like to think I've become a bit more aware of myself. (And for any family members who may be reading this, no, I'm not gay.)
So, with that warning, off you go. Find the books on the Chizine website. (Not recommending Amazon right now due to recent business practices.)