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The Legend of Charlie Fish

Josh Rountree



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25 July 2023
Josh Rountree's powerful debut Western novel wades into the literary waters of True Grit and Lonesome Dove by way of The Shape of Water. This story of turn-of-the-20th-century Texas pits an unlikely found family, including a strange gill-man, against relentless bounty hunters - all set against the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.

After burying his father, Floyd Betts is returning to Galveston, Texas. He is not alone in his journey, riding out of town with two orphaned siblings he has rescued. Descended from a long line of witches, Nellie struggles with visions from other people's minds. Her impulsive younger brother Hank just wants to break out his oversized revolver.

On the way to Galveston, Floyd, Nellie, and Hank rescue a lost, two-legged amphibian, Charlie Fish. But dangerous men, who want to profit from the spectacle of Charlie, are hot on their trail.

As Nell forms a strong psychic bond with Charlie, Floyd, still grieving, is struggling to protect this strange new family. Ominous winds are picking up from an impending hurricane. Meanwhile, all Charlie wants is to return to his home at sea.

With the taut intensity of an impending storm, Josh Rountree has created a unique Western, neo-gothic novel that demonstrates exactly why he is a rising star of American fiction.

'Odd, creepy, funny, The Black Lagoon meets the Six Gun universe. High up on the way-cool factor. You need this.' - Joe R. Lansdale, Edgar Award-winning author of the Hap and Leonard series

Imprint:   Miscellaneous
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 203mm,  Width: 128mm, 
ISBN:   9781616963941
ISBN 10:   1616963948
Pages:   192
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Josh Rountree has published more than sixty stories in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies, including Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Realms of Fantasy, The Deadlands, Bourbon Penn, PseudoPod, PodCastle, Daily Science Fiction, and A Punk Rock Future. Several of his stories have received honorable mentions in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Seventeenth and Twenty-First Annual Collections, as well as The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection. His latest short fiction collection is Fantastic Americana: Stories from Fairwood Press. Josh lives somewhere in the untamed wilds of Texas with his wife and children, and he tweets about books, records, and guitars at @josh_rountree.

Reviews for The Legend of Charlie Fish

"""A tense, exciting, and gorgeous read that will sweep you up immediately and not let go, lingering even after you turn the last page."" --A. C. Wise, author of Wendy, Darling ""Part adventure story, part lament, the whole is a triumph of voice and heart."" --Andy Davidson, author of The Hollow Kind ""A paean to turn of the 20th century Galveston, Tex., Rountree's romp of a debut novel (after the collection Fantastic Americana) combines a historical disaster with fantastical elements, including a creature who would fit right in, in the Black Lagoon. Floyd Betts meets orphaned siblings Nellie, a 12-year-old telepath, and Hank, a nine-year-old marksman, while in Old Cypress, Tex., for his father's funeral and decides to take them back with him to Abigail Elder's boarding house in Galveston. On the way, Floyd, Hank, and Nellie infuriate of a pair of circus charlatans calling themselves Professor Finn and Kentucky Jim by liberating the scoundrels' big score, a human-fish hybrid the children name Charlie Fish. Nellie's ""whisper talk,"" or empathetic telepathy, allows her to communicate with Charlie, who longs to reunite with his fellow fish people. Meanwhile, both Professor Finn and Kentucky Jim and an incoming hurricane pose threats even after the makeshift family is welcomed at Abigail's. Despite a somewhat unfocused plot, which jumps around in both time and alternates between Floyd and Nellie's points of view, a sense of looming doom keeps tension high, and Rountree's talent for scene setting is on full display in lush descriptions of the Old West. This weird western should win Rountree plenty of fans."" --Publishers Weekly ""The monsters are human, the humans are monsters, and hope still lives in Pandora's Box. It is a tale of today in yesterday's clothes. Beautifully written."" --Del Howison, author of The Survival of Margaret Thomas ""Josh Rountree knows how to spin a yarn. Great storytelling ability bringing Charlie Fish to life so I could fall in love with him. More of his adventures would be awesome! Highly recommend this to people who enjoy magic, whimsy, characters to invest in, and an emotional journey."" --Mother Horror ""A tight heart-filled tapestry of almost alternate history that hits all the notes I crave in weird fiction. I adored it."" --John Boden, author of Jedi Summer, Spungunion, and Snarl ""Author Josh Rountree knows the city of Galveston and its tragic history backwards and forwards. Recommended for those who enjoy a good 'weird western.'"" --Nancy A. Collins, author of Sunglasses After Dark ""The lyrical prose and sense of foreboding as undeniable as the first gusts of a hurricane make for an utterly charming and haunting tale."" --KC Grifant, author of Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger ""A fantastic work of dark historical fiction, in the spirit of Lansdale, Gorman, Pronzini, and McMurtry."" --Brian Keene, author of the Rising series ""Rountree's debut novel serves as an ode to Texas storytellers such as Joe Lansdale and dark-fantasy spinners such as Guillermo del Toro.... VERDICT: Rountree's colorful palette brings together Western and fantasy elements to create a magical tale about the deep bonds forged by circumstance."" --Library Journal ""Memorable characters, bad guys you'll love to hate, a fast-moving plot, and the right amount of supernatural elements--all expertly used to immerse you in the story."" --SF Signal ""The Legend of Charlie Fish is a quintessential example of a weird western."" --Booklist ""Rountree deftly casts his characters into dangerous waters and tells a lyrical, stormy tale of chosen family that is wonderfully hopeful, even amidst loss and hardship. I loved it."" --Patrick Swenson, author of Rain Music ""Odd, creepy, funny, The Black Lagoon meets the Six Gun universe. High up on the way-cool factor. You need this."" --Joe R. Lansdale, author of the Hap and Leonard series ""Mixing equal parts of Elmore Leonard toughness and Joe R. Lansdale wit in a Charles Portis-shaped shaker, The Legend of Charlie Fish is an old fashioned cocktail readers will savor."" --C.S. Humble, author of The Massacre at Yellow Hill ""Rountree effectively crafts deep characterizations for each of his cast members and makes you care for their plight, especially during the breathless final act as a colossal hurricane bears down on their Galveston locale. I was thoroughly taken with this story, Rountree's writing, and the unique island setting."" --The Speculative Shelf ""Equal parts touching and bizarre, The Legend of Charlie Fish is a weird western with heart, and is a completely delightful read from start to finish."" --David Liss, author of The Peculiarities ""If there's one thing I like more than strange fish-man stories, it's a terrific weird western, and with The Legend of Charlie Fish, Josh Rountree fuses these two genres into the fishiest, weirdest of westerns!"" --Cullen Bunn, author of The Sixth Gun and Harrow County 5/5 stars. ""Highly recommended for my fellow Texans, but also for western and literary fantasy fans!"" --The Book on the High Shelf 4.5/5 stars ""I inhaled this book. . . . The emotional content and build was spot-on."" --Book Reviews Forevermore ""Well-written, entertaining, and hugely original."" --Booklover's Boudoir Praise for Josh Rountree ""Josh Rountree is that rarest of creatures, a natural born storyteller."" --Jaime Lee Moyer, author of Divine Heretic and Brightfall ""Rountree's writing came down on me like the Assyrian on the fold."" --Howard Waldrop, author of Night of the Cooters ""Despite the popularity of fantasy during the past twenty years or more, very few writers have done much with short fantasy fiction rather than novels, and Rountree is definitely one of the exceptions."" --Critical Mass ""Rountree demonstrates impressive range in his wild debut collection of 21 speculative shorts. Unusual juxtapositions create striking tales . . . The result is as inventive as it is eclectic. --Publishers Weekly ""A corkscrewing roller coaster that stretches from sea to shining sea."" --Bradley Denton, author of Lunatics and Blackburn ""The Legend of Charlie Fish is ultimately fun, full of deep character work and heartfelt emotion."" --Horror DNA ""Amazing dialogue, plenty of action, and a group of memorable characters."" --Locus"

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