With his debut novel THE LEGEND OF CHARLIE FISH, Josh Rountree created a story that is full of grit and wonder with compelling characters and a pristine setting

Josh Rountree’s debut novel THE LEGEND OF CHARLIE FISH continues to fascinate as evident in reviews from SparklyPrettyBriiiight and Hal C F Astell for The Nameless Zine. At ArmadilloCon 2023, Texas Authors Institute of History asked Josh about THE LEGEND OF CHARLIE FISH. Pseudopod 882 shares both the audio and print renditions of Rountree’s short story “See That My Grave is Kept Clean.”

The Legend of Charlie Fish
Cover by John Coulthart

With that kind of heart behind it, and a hugely powerful narrative heft that always cradles and cherishes the humanity at its heart, augmented by a magicality that is more real in its impact that much of the physical world around us, The Legend of Charlie Fish is a dark but hopeful gem that lives out its Western and fantasy influences with grit and wonder and an unfailing sense that while life can be terrible and some people even more so, that that is not the end of the story and that good and wondrous things can happen in awful circumstances to powerfully lasting effect.


Rountree keeps a small cast but grows each of them, ironically Charlie Fish perhaps least of all, and it’s easy to care about them, especially with those scoundrels probably just round the bend waiting to pounce. We actively root for them, because we know they’re going to be up against it with the storm, and they just can’t lose to a pair of scoundrels before they get a shot at surviving that, surely? I liked where Rountree took them and I can’t argue with his difficult choices. The setting is pristine too.

He’s written a lot of short stories, but this looks like his first work at a more substantial length. I’d pick up the next one in a heartbeat.

The Nameless Zine
Texas Authors Institute of History

The bone men tend the graveyard, unaware they’re being watched. You’re crying because you’d lost hope of ever seeing them. They step so softly they appear to drift above the graves. Bones bright as blades in the moonlight. Tall as trees and just as slender. They clear away dead flowers and smooth out the fresh graves with white gloved hands. They straighten tombstones. They scatter leaves in artfully melancholy patterns across the steps of the stone mausoleum. On their knee bones in the muddy soil, they lean in close to the earth and whisper to the dead. This is their most important task, or so you’ve been told.

Someone must keep the dead company, after all.

Pseudopod 882