The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

The King in Yellow (1895) by Robert W. Chambers. It’s strange, it’s weird, it’s horror, sci-fi and romance all in one. The King in Yellow is a book of loosely connected short stories, full of fear and madness.

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Dare you read it? This collection has been called the most important book in American supernatural fiction between Poe and the moderns. H. P. Lovecraft, creator of the famed Cthulu mythos, whose own fiction was greatly influenced by this book stated that The King in Yellow ‘achieves notable heights of cosmic fear’.Moly

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“Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Dim Carcosa.”

—From Cassilda’s Song in The King in Yellow, Act i, Scene 2
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As well as being the title of the anthology, The King in Yellow is also the name of a play within the book, bringing madness to all who witness it. Although the play is never shown in full, it is referred to in a number of the stories.

 There is also a graphic novel by INJ Culbard. One of the UK’s most prolific cartoonists, his work always guarantees an intelligent and instantly recognizable graphic style. Clean lines, bold colors, and characters that wriggle right into the readers’ brain are Culbard’s trademark. In the realm of The King in Yellow, those skills are put to dastardly use as what begins in intrigue ends in poisonous insanity and palpable fright. Publishers Weekly

 Just as T.V. series True Detective borrowed the term Carcosa from Chambers more than a century after The King in Yellow was written, Chambers borrowed the term from Ambrose Bierce and H.P. Lovecraft later borrowed it from Chambers! This all just makes me want to watch series one of True Detective for a third time.

 You can download an audio version of Chambers’ The King in Yellow from Downpour.
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2 thoughts on “The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

  1. I’ve read and reviewed it a while back. What I found interesting is that the current short stories in the King in Yellow collections are not the same as 50 or 100 years ago. Somewhere along the line publishers decided the book should be an overview of Chamber’s work and replaced some of the tales in 2nd half of the book with some of his more dramatic stories from later in his career. That’s why it seems to change in tone as the book progresses. There are other stories more aligned with the first 5 stories in the book that would make more sense as a collection.

    Liked by 1 person

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