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Gemma Files


Experimental Film

Gemma Files

Experimental Film is a contemporary ghost story in which former Canadian film history teacher Lois Cairns-jobless and depressed in the wake of her son's autism diagnosis-accidentally discovers the existence of lost early 20th century Ontario filmmaker Mrs. A. Macalla Whitcomb. By deciding to investigate how Mrs. Whitcomb's obsessions might have led to her mysterious disappearance, Lois unwittingly invites the forces which literally haunt Mrs. Whitcomb's films into her life, eventually putting her son, her husband and herself in danger. Experimental Film mixes painful character detail with a creeping aura of dread to produce a fictionalized "memoir" designed to play on its readers' narrative expectations and pack an existentialist punch.

Grave Goods

Gemma Files

This short story originally appeared in the anthology Autumn Cthulhu (2016), edited by Mike Davis. It can also be found in the anthologies The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2017, edited by Paula Guran, and The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Nine (2017), edited by Ellen Datlow.

Kissing Carrion

Gemma Files

In this first published collection of short stories from one of Canada's most talented rising stars of horror, Gemma Files takes us into a world of black magic and bleak desire. A world where obsession is stronger than death. Where body, soul, time and space itself, are all fluid and treacherous. Where living houses dream longingly of oblivion, and vampires ache for more than simply blood. A world where the only escape from the darkness within is to embrace it.... A world not so very different from our own.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction - (2003) - essay by Caitlín R. Kiernan
  • Kissing Carrion - (2003)
  • Keepsake - (1997)
  • Rose-Sick - (1996)
  • Blood Makes Noise - (1999)
  • Skeleton Bitch - (1994)
  • Folly - (2001)
  • Mouthful of Pins - (1994)
  • Pretend That We're Dead - (2000)
  • No Darkness But Ours - (2001)
  • Job 37 - (2002)
  • Bear-Shirt - (2000)
  • Hidebound - (1996)
  • Skin City - (1994)
  • Seen - (2001)
  • Torch Song - (1998)
  • The Diarist - (1997)
  • Dead Bodies Possessed by Furious Motion - (2001)
  • Afterword (Kissing Carrion) - (2003)
  • About the Author (Gemma Files: Kissing Carrion) - (2003)

The Worm in Every Heart

Gemma Files

IN THE SHADOWS OF WAR AND HISTORY, THE MIRROR BETWEEN MAN AND MONSTER BREAKS... From the haunted hills of Roman Britain to the sewers of occupied Warsaw... in the bloodied streets of Revolutionary Paris, and the anarchy World War II Shanghai... out of the wilds of America, India, Africa and Europe... down the long savage darkness of the centuries, monsters have fed upon us. They are shapeshifters, vampires, sorcerers and spirits--things named only in myth, and things for which we have no name. They are our demons, our reflections, our desires and our nightmares. And all too often, they are... only human.

In this second collection from Gemma Files--featuring the award-winning 'The Emperor's Old Bones' (winner of the 1999 International Horror Guild Award for Best Short Fiction), and five never-before-published stories--we tour the overlooked intersections between wilderness and civilization where secret dances of fear and pain are performed and hunters and hunted change roles.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction - essay by Nancy Kilpatrick
  • Nigredo
  • Ring of Fire - (1995)
  • The Guided Tour - (1996)
  • Year Zero - (2001)
  • Flare - (1994)
  • Bottle of Smoke - (1998)
  • Fly-by-Night - (1993)
  • In the Poor Girl Taken by Surprise - (2004)
  • A Single Shadow Make - (1994)
  • The Land Beyond the Forest - (1994)
  • Sent Down - (2004)
  • The Kindly Ones
  • By the Mark
  • The Emperor's Old Bones - (1999)
  • The Narrow World - (2001)
  • Afterword - interview of Gemma Files

We Will All Go Down Together

Gemma Files

In the woods outside Overdeere, Ontario, there are trees that speak, a village that doesn't appear on any map and a hill that opens wide, entrapping unwary travellers. Music drifts up from deep underground, while dreams—and nightmares—take on solid shape, flitting through the darkness. It's a place most people usually know better than to go, at least locally—until tonight, at least, when five bloodlines mired in ancient strife will finally converge once more.

Devize, Glouwer, Rusk, Druir, Roke—these are the clans who make up the notorious Five-Family Coven. Four hundred years ago, this alliance of witches, changelings, and sorcerers sought to ruin and recreate the Earth in their own image, thwarted at the last only by treachery that sent half of them to be burned alive. Driven apart by rage and hatred, their descendants have continued to feud, intermarry, and breed with each other throughout the centuries, their mutual dislike becoming ever more destructively intimate.

But now, from downtown Toronto to the wilds beyond, where reality's walls grow thin, dark forces are drawing the Coven's last heirs to a final confrontation. Psychics, ex-possessees, defrocked changeling priests, shamans for hire, body-stealing witches, and monster-slaying nuns—the bastard children of a thousand evil angels—all are haunted by a ghost beyond any one person's power to exorcize unless they agree to stand together once more, at least long enough to wreak vengeance upon themselves.

A Book of Tongues

Hexslinger: Book 1

Gemma Files

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.

Table of Contents:

  • City of Jades - (2010)
  • Skull-Flower - (2010)
  • Jaguar Cactus Fruit - (2010)

A Rope of Thorns

Hexslinger: Book 2

Gemma Files

New Mexico, 1867. As consort to resurrected Mayan goddess Ixchel, hexslinger Reverend Asher Rook has founded Hex City, the first place in all of human history where magicians can live and work together safely. But this tenuous peace is is threatened by the approach of Rook's former lover, Chess Pargeter, bent on revenge over Rook's betrayal, as he kills his way toward the very same spot, dragging Pinkerton agent-turned-outlaw Ed Morrow along with him. Because Chess, sacrificed in Ixchel's name, has become far more than just a hex: his very presence has torn a crack in the world, remaking everything around him. And as the cycle of Chess's power approaches its climax, Chess, Morrow, and a young spiritualist named Yancey Colder—caught up in Chess's vendetta—will all have to shed yet more blood as they face down his mysterious patron demon, known only as the Enemy... along with every other enemy Chess has already made along the way.

A Tree of Bones

Hexslinger: Book 3

Gemma Files

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 consort, 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.

Though reinstated with the Agency, Pinkerton-turned-outlaw Ed Morrow finds himself caught between factions, as Aztec trickster god Tezcatlipoca roams the battlefield wearing Chess's face and body, promising aid while sowing dissent. Further into the wasteland, spiritualist Yancey Kloves and her allies struggle to stop an ever-widening, monster-spewing crack from breaching the wall between worlds, while Ixchel ruthlessly exploits the hexes gathered around her in order to resurrect the rest of her dead pantheon, kicking off an Apocalypse fed by shed human blood.

And in Hex City's darkness, "Reverend" Rook—Ixchel's consort, her key supporter up 'til now—plots a final, redemptive treachery of his own.

As ever, these gory, perverse, and world-wrenching schemes all hinge on "dead" Chess Pargeter's participation, though the man himself is currently trapped in an underworld dimension based on London's notorious Seven Dials slum, with only his oldest enemy—his similarly deceased mother, "English" Oona—for company. But Chess has fought his way out of hell before....

This is the third and final installment in the Hexslinger Trilogy.

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