Rhys Hughes's Salty Kiss Island: Fantastika Romantique was published by Immanion Press in June 2017.

Information about Rhys Hughes:

Rhys Hughes was born in 1966. Tartarus Press published his first collection, Worming the Harpy, in 1995, and since that time he has published more than thirty other books. His fiction is generally fantastical and his output mainly consists of short stories, though he has published several novels. His work is frequently compared to that of Boris Vian, Flann O'Brien and R.A. Lafferty, but he cites his major influences as Italo Calvino and Donald Barthelme. His most recent books include the collections Bone Idle in the Charnel House (Hippocampus Press), Orpheus on the Underground (Tartarus Press) and Brutal Pantomimes (Egaeus Press). Fascinated by paradoxes, he incorporates them into his fiction as entertainingly as he can.

Click here to visit his official website.

Information about Salty Kiss Island: Fantastika Romantique:

A collection of surrealist romantic stories.

This anthology collects for the first time Rhys Hughes’ fantastical love stories.

What is a fantastical love story? It isn’t quite the same as an ordinary love story. The events that take place are stranger, more extreme, full of the passion of originality, invention and magic, as well as an intensification of emotional love. Also, the voice that tells them has rather a different tone to a conventional romantic narrator.

The stories in Salty Kiss Island are set in this world and others, spanning the spectrum of possible and impossible experiences, the uncharted territories of yearning, the depths and shoals of the heart, mind and soul. They are adventure yarns, whimsies and comedies, tragedies and paradoxes. They are melancholy, gleeful, philosophic or mystical. A love of language runs through them, parallel to the love that motivates their characters to feats of preposterous heroism, luminous lunacy and grandiose gesture. They include tales of minstrels and their catastrophic serenades, dreamers sinking into sequences of ever-deeper dreams, goddesses and mermaids, sailors and devils, messages in bottles that can think and speak but never be read, shadows with an independent life and voyagers of distant galaxies who are already at their destinations before they arrive.

REVIEW: SALTY KISS ISLAND: FANTASTIKA ROMANTIQUE BY RHYS HUGHES

Rhys Hughes' short story collection Salty Kiss Island: Fantastika Romantique is a unique and delightfully quirky collection for readers who enjoy mesmerising and surreal fantasy stories. This collection collects the author's fantastical love stories for the first time into a single volume. According to the introduction, it spans the years 2001 and 2015 and features almost every fantastical story the author has written during that period, making it a must-have collection for the author's fans.

In case you're wondering what a "fantastical love story" means, I can mention that it's a love story that is in some ways fantastical and/or has speculative fiction elements. Fantastical love stories feature events that are stranger and more original when compared to events that are found in ordinary love stories. They're also more intense in many ways and their plot twists are often seducingly weird and surreal.

If you're new to Rhys Hughes and haven't read any of his stories before, Salty Kiss Island: Fantastika Romantique serves as an excellent entry point to his impressive body of works. This collection wonderfully showcases the author's unique writing style and his original approach to literary speculative fiction, love, eroticism and human condition.

Salty Kiss Island: Fantastika Romantique is one of the best short story collections I've ever had the pleasure of reading, because the stories are simply brilliant in their inventiveness, originality and whimsiness. Each of the stories instantly grabs hold of the reader's attention, because they're spellbindingly original and amusing.

This collection contains the following stories:

- All for Nothing
- Accordion Beach
- The Innumerable Chambers of the Heart
- Paradise Discarded
- Eternal Horizon
- Starlight Girl
- The Cargo Cults of Salty Kiss Island
- The Sweetheart Rosary
- Venus and Stupid
- The Mermaid Variations
- Message to Rosita
- Left on the Shelf
- The Cure of the Scandal in Averroës
- Love Keys
- The Requirements of Desire
- The Sublime Voyage of Ariana Aragão
- Died for Puns
- As I Walked Out One Midsummer Night's Dream
- Don Entrerrosca
- A Spaceship in the Shape of a Woman
- An Unpleasant Romance
- What the Shadow Sees

All of these stories are extraodinary reading experiences. Many of them are filled with wondrous sights and sensual experiences that rise way above normalcy. Their fantastical nature makes them seductive and unique, because you won't be able to tell in advance what happens in them, for they're not ordinary stories.

These stories combine elements of literary fantasy, magical realism and surrealism in a stunningly effective way. They're rewarding reading experiences to those who love fantastical stories.

Here's more information about the stories and my thoughts about them:

All for Nothing:

- A story about Márcia who - after her husband has vanished - buys a new pet, which unfortunately disappears one day.
- I enjoyed this story very much, because it begins in a seemingly normal way and gradually becomes stranges and thought-provoking.
- There's something philosophical and almost metaphysical about certain parts of this story that I find intriguing.

Accordion Beach:

- A story about a man and an accordion player who doesn't play tunes, but coaxes something else out of his accordion and never repeats himself.
- It was interesting to read about what had happened to the accordion player and how he loved a woman, because his story was fascinating.

The Innumerable Chambers of the Heart:

- In this story, Viviana lives in a large and geometrically confusing apartment block. She hears tapping messages coming from her radiator.
- This is a well written story about how a connection can form between two people who communicate by sending messages to each other.

Paradise Discarded:

- A story about Gabriel Mutis who is an advocate for troubled geographies.
- The idea of somebody being able to sense problems in the landmasses is simply brilliant.
- This is an excellent and unique story.

Eternal Horizon:

- In this story, a man falls in love with a sea goddess, Renuka.
- This is an extraordinary story, because this is the first time that I've read about a horizon giving birth to a baby horizon.
- This is one of my favourite stories in this collection.

Starlight Girl:

- A story about a man who gets an unexpected visitor, a woman, who is composed of pure starlight.
- I was mesmerised by the appearance of the woman, because the author writes about it in an enjoyable way.

The Cargo Cults of Salty Kiss Island:

- This is an amazing and well written story about Salty Kiss Island.
- I enjoyed reading about how the story begun in an unusual way, because it worked well. I also enjoyed the exotic setting very much, because the author writes fluently about exotic settings.
- This is one of the best and most intriguing stories in this collection.

The Sweetheart Rosary:

- A story about Begonia and Richard, who has a unique rosary.
- This story has an excellent and surprising ending.

Venus and Stupid:

- In this story, Mr Wilfred Nobbs buys a shell that turns out be something truly unique.
- It was intriguing to read about what Mr Wilfred Nobbs thought about himself, because he was convinced that he must be a woman.

The Mermaid Variations:

- This is a brilliant and a bit different kind of a story about mermaids.
- It's great that part of this story takes place in Wales, because Wales is unfortunately a seldom used setting in fantastical stories.
- What the author writes about Caroline Moreira, the mermaid, is wonderfully fascinating.
- I loved this story and found the ending perfect.

Message to Rosita:

- A story about a man who sends a message in a bottle to Rosita who lives in Fuerteventura.
- An excellent story that gives readers something to think about.

Left on the Shelf:

- A story about Franz and Silvia who have been lovers. They live in the same house and enjoy mountain climbing.
- What happened to Franz and Silvia when they went climbing in the pantry intrigued me, because it was unexpected. Their predicament is quite interesting.

The Cure of the Scandal in Averroës:

- A story about a wanderer who has traveled along the ancient hills and hidden valleys of Spain. One night he finds himself mistaken for another man.
- The author's descriptions of the places and what happens to the protagonist are marvellously entertaining.
- An excellent and well written story.

Love Keys:

- This short story is an original approach to the concept of a bridge with locks on it.
- I liked this fascinating story very much.

The Requirements of Desire:

- In this story, Pedro arrives in the mysterious and strange Chaud-Mellé with Roxana. Pedro and Roxana trade in requirements and provide people with what they require.
- When I read this story, I found myself fascinated by the paradoxes of the city, because it was a unique metropolis in many ways.
- This is a compelling and well written story.

The Sublime Voyage of Ariana Aragão:

- In this story, Ariana Aragão, who has invented a new camera, arrives in Lisbon to meet the editor of the journal that has been publishing her poems over the years.
- Ariana's camera is a fascinating invention, because it can produce interesting and extraordinary photographs.
- This is a deeply compelling story that will impress readers.

Died for Puns:

- I'm not going to reveal what kind of a story this is, because it's so uniquely different from the other stories that writing a brief synopsis about it wouldn't do it justice. I'll only mention that it's a story about love.
- I found this story captivating and enjoyed it a lot.
- What is mentioned about Poe and Wilde is fascinating.

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Night's Dream:

- The protagonist of this story walks out one night and tries to pursue the evening star that fascinates him.
- This is one of the best and most compelling stories in this collection, because it's a fantastical and wonderfully written tale.

Don Entrerrosca:

- A story about Don Entrerrosca and Eva Marcela Soler, who is causing a bit of problems to the authorities.
- It was enjoyable to read about how Don Entrerrosca tried to win Señorita Soler's heart, because his attempts were captivating.
- The author paints a vivid picture of Don Entrerrosca and writes fluently about him.
- This amazing tale is simply marvellous in its fantastical nature.

A Spaceship in the Shape of a Woman:

- A delightfully original story about a spaceship that resembles a human being.
- This story is one of the best examples of what kind of wondrous sights the author has to offer to his readers.

An Unpleasant Romance:

- In this story, the author explores what a bitter and unpleasant love story is and he does it well, because he stays true to his writing style and creates a story that is both surreal and fantastical.
- The tale about the two fish and their parasites is outstanding, and the ending of this story is perfect.
- I think that this story will stick to the readers' minds, because it's something different.

What the Shadow Sees:

- A story about a man who notices that his shadow has changed shape and is the shadow of a woman.
- A wonderfully intriguing and imaginative story that will please readers.

The relationships, romances, courtings and infatuations depicted in these stories are truly mesmerising. I like the author's way of examining these issues from a skewed and observative point of view. His descriptions about them are wonderfully imaginative yet meaningful.

I have to mention that I love the author's sense of humour, because he has a deliciously quirky sense of humour. It's possible that his humour may not be to everyone's liking, but those who have an appetite for puns, black humour and twisted humour will adore it.

I'm very impressed by the author's prose, because he writes excellent prose that is descriptive and wonderfully nuanced. I find his ability to write unique stories amazing, because he never fails to impress his readers. No matter what he writes about, he does it well.

What's great about these stories is that they feature quite a lot of underlying observations about our way of life, social norms and human condition. They're not just merely brilliant entertainment, but also thought-provoking. This makes them stand out, because not many authors are capable of writing this kind of entertaining fiction.

One of the things that impresses me about these stories is that many of them become something more as they develop into something fascinatingly strange and mind-boggling. They're seemingly ordinary premises are almost like preludes to the forthcoming fantastical happenings and surreal twists and turns.

Rhys Hughes' Salty Kiss Island: Fantastika Romantique is a marvellous short story collection that will appeal to many readers. The stories found within its pages are so good and whimsical that readers who are looking for unique stories to read simply can't afford to miss it. Please, do yourself a big favour and let this collection seduce you with its fantastical love stories and entertaining surrealism.

Highly recommended!

Log in to comment
Discuss this article in the forums (0 replies).
Online 44 visitors
Newest member: Caitlyn Bennett
Total members: 4942