From my real-time review of JOURNEYS BEYOND ADVICE by Rhys Hughes (Gloomy Seahorse Press) HERE:
A Rape of Knots
"While I could accept a gestalt rat with an evolved sentience, the application of this talent to metaphysics was too ungainly a conceit for such humid stews as Nassau."
At different times I come to a certain side of Rhys Hughes' work that appeals strongly to a certain side of my reading taste. I relish his work's various sides ironic as well as visionary simply because I think I have many sides to myself that can individually tune into what is being asked of me by whichever Rhys Hughes work I happen to find myself reading. But this story immediately replaces my current favourite of his works (i.e. The Quixote Candidate) - and 'A Rape of Knots' may even become, at a good rate of knots, my favourite fiction story by anyone. I know that is a bit strong, but I feel sufficiently strong about it to make that perhaps dangerously premature assessment.
This story combines the almost religious 'soul-searching' (literally) quest of the previous Stairwell novella together at one point with that novella's dimensionless feel of a secret passage potentially reaching forever... Also a stunningly strong genius loci of the place in question, here Nassau, brilliant turns of phrase and conceit common to most Rhys Hughes fiction whatever its caste, an examination of evil and the Nature of God as philosophising that does not disrupt the flow of the plot, and effectively deep character development, too, here, of a gay priest and his precarious relationship with the ungay narrator, and a creatively dangerous approach to these factors and to notions of racialism, and the most memorable human-entwined 'monster' that is prefigured by that wheel of a 'gestalt rat' and its knot of tails about which my quotation above from earlier in the story is concerned.
I have long defined the word 'ligotti' as 'knots' (plural of 'ligottus') and the themes of Thomas Ligotti's anti-Natalism, evil dolls, puppets etc and the examination of the nature of evil present in this Rhys Hughes story seem exquisitely to dovetail.
But I came away from 'The Rape of Knots' uplifted, not depressed. Uplifted by its intrinsic truth - but a truth from a healing fiction or a devastating nightmare? Or both?