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The King in Yellow By Robert W. Chambers This must qualify as one of the strangest and most haunting volumes ever written. This is a collection of tales guaranteed to turn your blood to ice, If You Dare!


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The King in Yellow By Robert W. Chambers This must qualify as one of the strangest and most haunting volumes ever written. This is a collection of tales guaranteed to turn your blood to ice, If You Dare!

30 review for The King In Yellow -- FREE Audiobook Download [Annotated]

  1. 5 out of 5

    mark monday

    ƸӁƷ 5 Stars for the wonderful opening story "The Repairer of Reputations". although i wonder if 'wonderful' is the correct word. after all, this is a story that opens with a bizarre, sometimes dire alterna-history leading up to a 1920s America where on-lookers gather to contemplate terminally dispirited disportment within suicide-abetting "Lethal Chambers." and after this bit of surprising strangeness, the reader is plunged right into the mind of a classic Unreliable Narrator (the poor lad struck Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ 5 Stars for the wonderful opening story "The Repairer of Reputations". although i wonder if 'wonderful' is the correct word. after all, this is a story that opens with a bizarre, sometimes dire alterna-history leading up to a 1920s America where on-lookers gather to contemplate terminally dispirited disportment within suicide-abetting "Lethal Chambers." and after this bit of surprising strangeness, the reader is plunged right into the mind of a classic Unreliable Narrator (the poor lad struck his head after a fall from a horse and was never quite the same again), complete with insanely grandiose ambitions and malicious thoughts of revenge and devious yet doltish plans for his enemies - who are everywhere, simply everywhere! with the added bonuses of various books of ill repute, some surreal shenanigans starring a peculiarly malevolent cat, and the creepy Repairer himself. all in all, it is a bracing and imaginative bit of darkness on the page. and, to me at least, quite wonderful. the style is so breezy, the pacing so brisk, the imagination so fertile and so oddly modern, the experience was pure pleasure. it is hard to believe that this story was written over a 100 years ago. i also enjoyed the three tales of weird horror that followed, chock-full of dread and formless despair. good stories. interesting and off-kilter and pleasingly sinister. the big take-away is the idea of a monstrous play ("The King in Yellow") that horribly impacts anyone who dares read it, and which is a key element in each of the first four stories. here's an excerpt from said monstrous play (please don't kill yourself or anyone else after reading): Camilla: You, sir, should unmask. Stranger: Indeed? Cassilda: Indeed it's time. We have all laid aside disguise but you. Stranger: I wear no mask. Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No mask? No mask! hey, take a look at this cover for an edition i wish i owned: if you are at all familiar with this author or classic Weird Fiction in general, then you know the drill. those first four stories (along with Ambrose Bierce's "An Inhabitant of Carcosa") set the template for much Weird Fiction to come, from H.P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith to Karl Edward Wagner and beyond. the names, the places, the idea of fell books of unhealthy influence, creeping dread, hysterical romanticism, humans viewed as repulsive insects... this story-cycle's place at the beginning of it all is well-known. it is also a well-known disappointment. only those first four could be classified as Weird Fiction. a fifth, "The Demoiselle d'Ys", is an elegant, wispy ghost story/romance - and is also quite traditional. following that is "The Prophet's Paradise" - a collection of bits of ambiguous prose poetry, or impenetrable fable, or snatches from a larger tapestry never completed, or something. the remaining four tales (each fancifully titled after certain streets) have barely a whiff of horror about them and so have met a chilly reception over the years from Weird Fiction enthusiasts. they are all about living the lifestyle of a bohemian art student abroad in bohemian Paris' bohemian Latin Quarter. think Trilby minus Svengali. they are about romance, art, naive americans, lack of money, enticing but sometimes tragic whores, some bloodshed (at least in one story), a sad and lonely ending (in another story), some unbearable lightness of being... what it feels like to be young and artistic and ready to enjoy life in a bustling and sometimes violent big city. these stories were slim, rather quaint, rather witty, and quite vibrant. i particularly enjoyed "The Street of the First Shell", which plunges the reader into a you-are-there-now account of the milieu itself and then what it feels like to suddenly find yourself in the middle of a bloody, confusing battle full of heretofore-unexperienced chaos, terror, and death. overall this is an unusual and surprisingly quirky collection of stories. all of them were interesting and a couple really sang.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jean-marcel

    Can art drive a person insane? Could there be a book, or a film, or a piece of music that vibrates against the cortext in a certain way, or opens great gulfs of revelation so profound and so shattering that you could never be exposed to it without being changed forever? If the truth of such a piece got out, wouldn't anyone and everyone want to be exposed to it, scoffing and thinking that they, above all else, would be well equipped to handle any dangers, and yet feeling inescapably drawn to find Can art drive a person insane? Could there be a book, or a film, or a piece of music that vibrates against the cortext in a certain way, or opens great gulfs of revelation so profound and so shattering that you could never be exposed to it without being changed forever? If the truth of such a piece got out, wouldn't anyone and everyone want to be exposed to it, scoffing and thinking that they, above all else, would be well equipped to handle any dangers, and yet feeling inescapably drawn to find out just what it is that makes such a thing work so potently on the human psyche? Of course, these vistas, this mind-altering vibration, could never, ever be described. They could only be experienced. And having had the experience, you would have to dissemanate it to others. You wouldn't even have to try. If you had the presence of mind to warn your friends against it, even that warning would plant the seed of gnosis, and before you could say "Tears shall dry and die in dim Carcosa", they would be turning those mouldering pages, their eyes soon wide, staring into nothingness, but seeing....what? It's the idea of the King in Yellow that's so powerful and sticks with you long after you've finished Robert Chambers's odes to the play that nobody's ever read and remained untouched. Throughout the first four stories of this book, you'll get tantalising glimpses of the first act of the play, which is apparently harmless. The second act is what shakes everyone to their very foundation, and Chambers wisely does not give us a taste, for anything he could say would pale in comparison to what we might imagine, even if that imagining is but the faintest dark inkling. The first story in this series, "The Repairer of Reputations", is one of my favourite short stories, rivalling, I think, the best of Poe and many other writers. It's strange and electrifying; set in New York of 1920 (twenty-five years after this book was written), and the future depicted is very odd indeed. The USA seems to have become a fascist state, and the tale begins on the eve of the opening of the first Suicide Chamber, little gas chambers to be set up all over the country where people will be permitted to cleanly destroy themselves if life becomes too difficult for them. In just a few pages, Chambers paints a sharp and eloquent picture of this altered, would-be-future new York, and it is here, among the clean streets and pristine boulevards, that our narrator resides. He's just recovered from an injury (falling from his horse, he says), and during his convalescence had little better to do than to read the now infamous The King in Yellow. He believes he's made a sterling recovery, but his friends are convinced that he's not a well man. Throughout the story he rails against comrades and family, secretly plotting to undermine the order of things with the mysterious and bizarrely freakish Mr. Wilde. Their "Reputation Repair" service is designed to make them a good deal of money...but to what end? Well, you simply have to read the story to find out. Then read it again to pick up on the little details you might have missed the first time. It's really good stuff; definitely an unsung classic of the highest order. The next few stories also deal with the play The King in Yellow in one way or another. "The Mask" is my second favourite tale, and its romantic and tragic and haunting, and set around the time when the play first emerged into the world. You may need to read the ending twice to realise what is going on. Just remember that anyone who has claimed to have read the play has perceptions that should not wholly be trusted. While I don't think Chambers ever manages to equal the glory of the first two tales, he does come pretty close at times. "The Court of the Dragon" is a short little piece with some extremely evocative writing. "The Yellow Sign" is a little more of a standard horror, but it still makes sense in the context of the play and the maddening effects it has apparently had on the world. From this point, things move into other territory as the concept of the play is abandoned and we get stories of mysterious love, possible time travel, war-torn France and even a very short and effective ghost story. The last of these is "The Street of the Four Winds", and it's really very good. The image of the young artist taking in this cat and trying to find out where it belongs is evoked so well that I found the story imprinted forever in my memory. This book has had a quiet, profound influence on many things, I feel. The most obvious would be H. P. Lovecraft and his Necronomicon, but the idea of books that rend the mind is a potent one that's burrowed into the literary conscious and has even showed up in a number of movies, too. One might even say that something like Borges's "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is a perfect extension and elucidation of this very idea. In a way reading The King in Yellow makes me sad, because it seems that Chambers, upon receiving some literary success, became rather neutered and churned out a lot of average schlock that's of little consequence, even if perhaps fun to read. If nothing else (and it is many things), The King in Yellow is proof that the best work is produced in times when there can be no room for complacency and no substitute for the fire of strange passions, and and that the contentment of a fine house and back-patting acolaides are seldom the elements that conspire to create great works.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amy (Other Amy)

    Along the shore the cloud waves break, The twin suns sink beneath the lake, The shadows lengthen In Carcosa. Strange is the night where black stars rise, And strange moons circle through the skies But stranger still is Lost Carcosa. Songs that the Hyades shall sing, Where flap the tatters of the King, Must die unheard in Dim Carcosa. Song of my soul, my voice is dead; Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed Shall dry and die in Lost Carcosa. Cassilda's Song in "The King in Yellow," Act I, Scene 2 (I probably shouldn't Along the shore the cloud waves break, The twin suns sink beneath the lake, The shadows lengthen In Carcosa. Strange is the night where black stars rise, And strange moons circle through the skies But stranger still is Lost Carcosa. Songs that the Hyades shall sing, Where flap the tatters of the King, Must die unheard in Dim Carcosa. Song of my soul, my voice is dead; Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed Shall dry and die in Lost Carcosa. Cassilda's Song in "The King in Yellow," Act I, Scene 2 (I probably shouldn't open a review with lines from a play that has such ill effects on people, but the excerpts from the play were my favorite parts.) I have done homework for this review, which I now share with you: In about 1887, Gustave Nadaud writes a poem called "Carcassonne" (available online here) about a man dying before he sets eyes on the city of his heart's desire. This inspires Lord Dunsany to write a short story of the same name (included in A Dreamer's Tales), William Faulkner to write a short story of the same name (available in These Thirteen), and, apparently, Ambrose Bierce to write a short story called "An Inhabitant of Carcosa" (available in Can Such Things Be?). Bierce's story in turn inspires Robert W. Chambers to write a collection of short stories called A King in Yellow (a review of which you are now reading), in which the first four interlocking stories follow the repercussions of a fictional play also called A King in Yellow set in the theoretically still fictional Carcosa. Which in turn inspired H.P. Lovecraft to do something I haven't finished researching yet. Which has apparently spawned a whole cottage industry of books about the king in yellow and Carcosa (just judging by what I'm seeing on Amazon, here). So this is a literary iceberg we're standing on. The Repairer of Reputations The first story stars a Mr. Hildred Castaigne, convalescing from a concussion, poor man. The story shines in the first part for the sheer 'what on earth am I reading?' reaction it provokes, but half that reaction comes from the fact that the book was written in 1895 and describes a utopia (complete with a nasty little bit of racism) imagined in 1920. The other half comes from Mr. Castaigne, (view spoiler)[who is really not a very trustworthy gentleman (hide spoiler)] . The Mask The second story stars a character mentioned briefly in the first story, Boris Yvain, and narrator Alec. I think of this one as a retelling (view spoiler)[of the story of King Midas (hide spoiler)] . I rather enjoyed this one. In the Court of the Dragon This one stars an unnamed narrator and only names a Monseigneur C____. It is therefore difficult to say the exact links, but I have my suspicions. The Yellow Sign The fourth story stars Jack Scott (from the second story), an organist who may or may not be from the third story, as well as (view spoiler)[quite possibly the narrator of the third story (hide spoiler)] , and references the events of the first story. This is the most horrific story of the quartet. The Demoiselle D'ys Starring Philip and Jean D'ys. No links to other stories, but a pretty tragedy. The Prophets' Paradise A little bit of experimental fiction that didn't really work for me, although the words were strung together nicely enough; it might be better understood as poetry. The Street of the Four Winds The last four stories also form a quartet, but they have nothing to do with Carcosa or the horror genre. This first of the four stars Severn and Sylvia Elven. I kind of this one, because Severn is the kind of man who will feed a hungry cat better than he feeds himself. The Street of the First Shell This one also has a Sylvia, and a Jack Trent? Annoyed. Long war story. Skipped. The Street of Our Lady of the Fields Americans studying in Paris. Romance. Officially bored now. Barely skimmed. Rue Barree Same Americans (different set), still a romance. Skimmed. Overall, this was really a 2.5 for me (as a 200 page book that took me over a week to read). But I'm glad I read it for the sake of all the allusions I'm sure I've been missing and will now be able to understand. So it's got that going for it. And looking back I really did like the first four stories and a couple of the later ones, for all that the book was a slog. Rounding up. Reviewed 10/18/15

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paulo "paper books always" Carvalho

    This is a hard book to give a rating. There are more things that made me wanna stop the book than to continue. But I stand firm and continue my path unfortunally the last two stories were too much for me. I read and skipped several paragraphs at time because it was too damn boring without any purpose or interest. But there are some cool stories. First of all, if you would like to try reading Robert W Chambers start with the first four short stories/novellas. These are the beginning of Weird Fictio This is a hard book to give a rating. There are more things that made me wanna stop the book than to continue. But I stand firm and continue my path unfortunally the last two stories were too much for me. I read and skipped several paragraphs at time because it was too damn boring without any purpose or interest. But there are some cool stories. First of all, if you would like to try reading Robert W Chambers start with the first four short stories/novellas. These are the beginning of Weird Fiction as later Lord Dunsany, HP Lovecraft, William Hope Hodgson, Robert E Howard, Arthur Mchen or Clark Ashton Smith made it so popular. That's no coincidence that HP Lovecraft used some elements in it's Mythos and he said about Robert Chambers: "Very genuine, though not without the typical mannered extravagance of the eighteen-nineties, is the strain of horror in the early work of Robert W. Chambers, since renowned for products of a very different quality. The King in Yellow, a series of vaguely connected short stories having as a background a monstrous and suppressed book whose perusal brings fright, madness, and spectral tragedy, really achieves notable heights of cosmic fear in spite of uneven interest and a somewhat trivial and affected cultivation of the Gallic studio atmosphere made popular by Du Maurier’s Trilby. The most powerful of its tales, perhaps, is "The Yellow Sign," in which is introduced a silent and terrible churchyard watchman with a face like a puffy grave-worm's. A boy, describing a tussle he has had with this creature, shivers and sickens as he relates a certain detail. "Well, sir, it's Gawd's truth that when I 'it 'im 'e grabbed me wrists, sir, and when I twisted 'is soft, mushy fist one of 'is fingers come off in me 'and." An artist, who after seeing him has shared with another a strange dream of a nocturnal hearse, is shocked by the voice with which the watchman accosts him. The fellow emits a muttering sound that fills the head like thick oily smoke from a fat-rendering vat or an odour of noisome decay. What he mumbles is merely this: "Have you found the Yellow Sign?" A weirdly hieroglyphed onyx talisman, picked up in the street by the sharer of his dream, is shortly given the artist; and after stumbling queerly upon the hellish and forbidden book of horrors the two learn, among other hideous things which no sane mortal should know, that this talisman is indeed the nameless Yellow Sign handed down from the accursed cult of Hastur—from primordial Carcosa, whereof the volume treats, and some nightmare memory of which seems to lurk latent and ominous at the back of all men's minds. Soon they hear the rumbling of the black-plumed hearse driven by the flabby and corpse-faced watchman. He enters the night-shrouded house in quest of the Yellow Sign, all bolts and bars rotting at his touch. And when the people rush in, drawn by a scream that no human throat could utter, they find three forms on the floor—two dead and one dying. One of the dead shapes is far gone in decay. It is the churchyard watchman, and the doctor exclaims, "That man must have been dead for months." It is worth observing that the author derives most of the names and allusions connected with his eldritch land of primal memory from the tales of Ambrose Bierce. Other early works of Mr. Chambers displaying the outré and macabre element are The Maker of Moons and In Search of the Unknown. One cannot help regretting that he did not further develop a vein in which he could so easily have become a recognised master." In my opinion, the four first stories are excelent linked horror stories as Lovecraft said before. The rest are not that interesting nowadays. To me they are boring(with the exception of The Demoiselle d'Ys). Imagine this to understand what I think of the stories.... A man is walking and finds a woman in a house where he talks with her. As the day/night advances he fell in love with her but it's late he got to get home and promise to return (At least five or six pages of talks/images and such). As he passes a church he talks to a priest and the priest says that there is no-one alive in that house. It existed a family there but they died "insert method of choice". The man frights himself and died. The end. In my experience this is the typical gothic story. There are similar story arcs in epic fantasy. A boy (usually), orphan, is found by a powerful magician/knight/seer or such and says that he is destiny to save the world/country/woman from a powerful evil, that no-one can defeat. But this boy who had no training in magic/war turns to a warleader/best magician, and fights an undefeated evil lord/magician and lives to tell the tale, unscathed. He and his powerful, beautiful, amazing wife. Oh well, I am getting sidetracked here. Review So, the four stories are linked to a book called The King in Yellow (try imagining Necronomicon). There exists also a powerful evil entity and a terrible Yellow Sign. Two of the stories are in a nearby alternative future America (Circus 1920) and two other stories are set in Paris. The first story "The Repairer of Reputations" Hildred, our main character in the first tale is one of the first attempts of an unnreliable narrator and as the story progress we get hints that he is delusional and had a broken mind. And this is what interests me, because the plot itself is not important. He thinks that he is the last Heir to the The Imperial Dynasty of America but his cousin is the way. The main protagonist reads a book called The King In Yellow, which is represented as a universally censored play which deeply disturbs him. This supposedly book makes people going insane and noone can read from end to end. It's legal and exist the Government Lethal Chambers in each city, were people can commit suicide, after reading part of this play. The second story The Mask is also connected to the first (the damned book and the land of Carcossa) and its straightforward with 10 pages. Maybe Yeovil Genevieve comes from this tale. In the Court of the Dragon is a fast paced story about a man who has been followed by an church organ player. As he tries to escape through Paris he awakes in the church all began. Suddendly it seems, a dream upon a dream, he awakes in Carcossa dying... "And now I heard his voice, rising, swelling, thundering through the flaring light, and as I fell, the radiance increasing, increasing, poured over me in waves of flame. Then I sank into the depths, and I heard the King in Yellow whispering to my soul: "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" The Yellow Sign is the last tale and what a tale it is. A tale about a painter and his muse. As the story progress we see the interaction between those two characters and a man by the churchyard that spooks them. As she gives him something she discovers (the Yellow sign) it seems that all come to light... "I am sure I wished to do so, but Tessie pleaded with me in vain. Night fell and the hours dragged on, but still we murmured to each other of the King and the Pallid Mask, and midnight sounded from the misty spires in the fog-wrapped city. We spoke of Hastur and of Cassilda, while outside the fog rolled against the blank window-panes as the cloud waves roll and break on the shores of Hali. The house was very silent now and not a sound from the misty streets broke the silence. Tessie lay among the cushions, her face a gray blot in the gloom, but her hands were clasped in mine and I knew that she knew and read my thoughts as I read hers, for we had understood the mystery of the Hyades and the Phantom of Truth was laid.Then as we answered each other, swiftly, silently, thought on thought, the shadows stirred in the gloom about us, and far in the distant streets we heard a sound. Nearer and nearer it came, the dull crunching of wheels, nearer, nearer and yet nearer, and now, outside the door it ceased, and I dragged myself to the window and saw a black-plumed hearse. The gate below opened and shut, and I crept shaking to my door and bolted it, but I knew no bolts, no locks, could keep that creature out who was coming for the Yellow Sign. And now I heard him moving very softly along the hall. Now he was at the door, and the bolts rotted at his touch. Now he had entered. With eyes starting from my head I peered into the darkness, but when he came into the room I did not see him. It was only when I felt him envelop me in his cold soft grasp that I cried out and struggled with deadly fury,but my hands were useless and he tore the onyx clasp from my coat and struck me full in the face.Then,as I fell,I heard Tessie's soft cry and her spirit fled to God,and even while falling I longed to follow her,for I knew that the King in Yellow had opened his tattered mantle and there was only Christ to cry. I could tell more, but I cannot see what help it will be to the world. As for me I am past human help or hope. As I lie here, writing, careless even whether or not I die before I finish, I can see the doctor gathering up his powders and phials with a vague gesture to the good priest beside me, which I understand." Conclusion The four first stories are worthwhile but the rest are not that good. They are romantic stories with some supernatural/horror elements... IF you can call that horror. Since all these stories are free try reading them for yourselves. If you enjoy weird fiction, lovecraft and the rest of the gang try reading them. As I said, the book "Necronomicon" was based on "King of Yellow" no doubt about it. Now an excerpt from it... Camilla: You, sir, should unmask. Stranger: Indeed? Cassilda: Indeed it's time. We have all laid aside disguise but you. Stranger: I wear no mask. Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No mask? No mask! He mentioned the establishment of the Dynasty in Carcosa, the lakes which connected Hastur, Aldebaran and the mystery of the Hyades. He spoke of Cassilda and Camilla, and sounded the cloudy depths of Demhe, and the Lake of Hali. "The scolloped tatters of the King in Yellow must hide Yhtill forever," he muttered, but I do not believe Vance heard him. Then by degrees he led Vance along the ramifications of the Imperial family, to Uoht and Thale, from Naotalba and Phantom of Truth, to Aldones, and then tossing aside his manuscript and notes, he began the wonderful story of the Last King.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris_P

    The Repairer of Reputations: ** The Mask: **** In the Court of the Dragon: *** The Yellow Sign: *** The Demoiselle D' Ys: **** The Prophets' Paradise: ***** The Street of the Four Winds: **** The Street of the First Shell: ** The Street of our Lady of the Fields: ** Rue Barée: *** 3.2 Before Algernon Blackwood, Robert E. Howard, Ray Bradbury, Thomas Ligotti and many more, there was Robert W. Chambers. But the one who was influenced the most by Chambers was H. P. Lovecraft. Some basic ideas from the myth of The Repairer of Reputations: ** The Mask: **** In the Court of the Dragon: *** The Yellow Sign: *** The Demoiselle D' Ys: **** The Prophets' Paradise: ***** The Street of the Four Winds: **** The Street of the First Shell: ** The Street of our Lady of the Fields: ** Rue Barée: *** 3.2 Before Algernon Blackwood, Robert E. Howard, Ray Bradbury, Thomas Ligotti and many more, there was Robert W. Chambers. But the one who was influenced the most by Chambers was H. P. Lovecraft. Some basic ideas from the myth of The King in Yellow were used by Lovecraft almost intact. How the creator of Cthulu managed to maintain his well-known originality is a whole other story. Chambers uses haunting atmosphere to create cosmic horror and he does it well. Not all his stories focus on horror, though. Therefore, the reader might get distracted from the atmosphere that was built at first, especially with the last three stories. My personal favorites are Demoiselle D' Ys and The Prophets' Paradise with the latter being an excellent example of the surrealistic/absurd literature that would flourish later in the 20th century. Overall, a pretty interesting collection of stories with its ups and downs.

  6. 4 out of 5

    El

    In 1986 Robert Chambers killed a young woman in Central Park in New York. The media called Chambers the Preppie Killer. This Robert W. Chambers is not the same guy. Robert W. Chambers died in 1933 and, as far as I know, didn't kill anyone. Just so we're clear on that. The first four stories or so in this collection are loosely related, in that there's this connecting theme of a fictional drama called The King in Yellow. Those who get their paws on it and read it wind up going crazy. These stories In 1986 Robert Chambers killed a young woman in Central Park in New York. The media called Chambers the Preppie Killer. This Robert W. Chambers is not the same guy. Robert W. Chambers died in 1933 and, as far as I know, didn't kill anyone. Just so we're clear on that. The first four stories or so in this collection are loosely related, in that there's this connecting theme of a fictional drama called The King in Yellow. Those who get their paws on it and read it wind up going crazy. These stories are great. I enjoyed the shit out of them. The rest of the stories did not follow along the same theme and it took me a while to realize that. Like an embarrassingly long time. Like I sat there wondering how the fifth story related to the first four. I didn't realize that they wouldn't all be related in some way, so after my mind was blown by the actual King in Yellow stories, I was disappointed in the other stories. Though, in reality, had I read those other stories separately I would have really enjoyed them as well. Latin Quarter, Paris, bohemians - I love that stuff! But it wasn't what I wanted with this read. I am reading spooky stuff for Halloween-month, and while the first four stories fit my theme so well, the rest left me feeling cold and a little sad. That being said, The Street of the First Shell is a wonderful story. What I will say about Chambers is he was incredible at writing atmospheric fiction. I felt like I was with every character he wrote, I felt like I was in every circumstance. Even in the stories I didn't care for, I felt like I was making a connection to Chambers' words. He was a romantic writer, who also wrote some macabre. Personally I would have enjoyed more of the macabre, but then I'm like the Queen of Death over here, so y'know. I would say if you can read The Repairer of Reputations, The Mask, In the Court of the Dragon, and The Yellow Sign, do so. I don't think you'll be disappointed. They're incredible and slightly freakish and I can see how Lovecraft would be influenced by them. And then read The Street of the First Shell because it's just a really good story. Very powerful. The others can probably be skipped. Unless you want the romantic, flowery Chambers. Phooey.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Camilla: You, sir, should unmask. Stranger: Indeed? Cassilda: Indeed it's time. We have all laid aside disguise but you. Stranger: I wear no mask. Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No mask? No mask! - The King In Yellow I came to this by way of the HBO show True Detective, which is pretty cool although not anywhere near as clever as it thinks it is, and which features references to the Yellow King and to a ruined city called Carcosa. Robert Chambers was the first guy to write about the Yellow K Camilla: You, sir, should unmask. Stranger: Indeed? Cassilda: Indeed it's time. We have all laid aside disguise but you. Stranger: I wear no mask. Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No mask? No mask! - The King In Yellow I came to this by way of the HBO show True Detective, which is pretty cool although not anywhere near as clever as it thinks it is, and which features references to the Yellow King and to a ruined city called Carcosa. Robert Chambers was the first guy to write about the Yellow King, in the first four stories in this 1895 book.* And they're pretty cool. I liked the first and last ones the best - "Repairer of Reputations" and "The Yellow Sign". * El says not to bother reading the rest of it, so I didn't. The King in Yellow here is a play, and if you read past the first act of the play you go nuts. And these stories are weird, macabre fiction in the grand American tradition that reaches back to Poe - if we're being honest, past him and back to that master of horror Jonathan Edwards. Carcosa is mentioned here, and that in turn is a crib from the short story "An Inhabitant Of Carcosa" by Ambrose Bierce, which shares themes with his more well-known "An Incident At Owl Creek Bridge." Bierce doesn't really do it for me. And later on Lovecraft will borrow the King in Yellow for his story "The Whisperer in Darkness" (1930). The idea of fiction spilling over into life, like The King in Yellow does, is one that Lovecraft took about as far as anyone else has, so you can see why he grabbed onto it; his Necronomicon almost exists at this point, so carefully has it been insinuated. So True Detective is part of a long conversation here, and my friend Liz pointed out over brunch that we're seeing the creation of a myth, like Faust: an idea fun enough that people want to pick it up and play with it and make it theirs. It's a meme. Outside of the specific myth of the King in Yellow, the broader idea of entertainment that will kill you is increasingly ubiquitous. David Foster Wallace plays with it in Infinite Jest, and there's the 1991 Japanese novel Ring, better known for its movie adaptations, and Cronenberg's 1983 Videodrome, and etc. It is not an example of a tulpa, a thing created by force of imagination a la Slenderman. That is a silly idea and it doesn't exist. It is not, in other words, possible that by producing and consuming enough stories about stories that drive the consumer insane, we might inevitably, eventually produce a story that will actually drive us insane. That's ridiculous. Anyway, I'll write more about this later but my wife wants me to watch a movie with her.

  8. 4 out of 5

    P.E.

    Otherworldly as far as the first four fantastical stories go, then queerly realistic. You never saw such a blend of vividness in settings and sharp foreboding as in The Repairer of Reputations, The Mask, the Court of the Dragon and The Yellow Sign! As to the other half of the book, you may enjoy The Demoiselle d'Ys and The Street of the First Shell, enjoy them hugely even, if you're into magical realism and impressionnistic accounts of wars (the likes of Ambrose Bierce's or Celine's). Civil War Sto Otherworldly as far as the first four fantastical stories go, then queerly realistic. You never saw such a blend of vividness in settings and sharp foreboding as in The Repairer of Reputations, The Mask, the Court of the Dragon and The Yellow Sign! As to the other half of the book, you may enjoy The Demoiselle d'Ys and The Street of the First Shell, enjoy them hugely even, if you're into magical realism and impressionnistic accounts of wars (the likes of Ambrose Bierce's or Celine's). Civil War Stories - Ambrose Bierce Rigadoon - Céline What amazed me the more was how increasingly France came to the fore, starting from the short story set in mythical Brittany... I don't know if it was foreseen by R.W. Chambers, but this shifting of gears is an uncommon tricky feature to weld otherwise loosely connected halves. On the whole, tremendously profitable reading! I recommand it to whoever feels like to dare the thrall of the King in Yellow! Matching Soundtrack : Danse Macabre - Camille Saint-Saëns

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nate D

    A classic of proto-weird, bearing all the marks of decadent era during which it was conceived (ie 1895; Chambers was likely exposed to the currents of fin-de-siecle writing when studying in Paris a couple years before), at turns uncanny and voluptuous. Borrows some names from Ambrose Bierce, lends some themes, much later, to H.P. Lovecraft. Opening story The Repairer of Reputations is justifiably the most noted here for its projected dystopian 1920s, creeping unease, and rather spectacularly unr A classic of proto-weird, bearing all the marks of decadent era during which it was conceived (ie 1895; Chambers was likely exposed to the currents of fin-de-siecle writing when studying in Paris a couple years before), at turns uncanny and voluptuous. Borrows some names from Ambrose Bierce, lends some themes, much later, to H.P. Lovecraft. Opening story The Repairer of Reputations is justifiably the most noted here for its projected dystopian 1920s, creeping unease, and rather spectacularly unreliable narrator. Subsequent stories build on the myth of the titular madness-induing play with somewhat diminishing returns, then shift gears into a cycle of less genre-inflected Parisian stories, of which "The Street of the First Shell", set during in the 1870 bombardment of Paris by Prussian forces, is actually among the best developed pieces here.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ctgt

    This was an odd collection. My version contained 10 stories of which only 5 had some correlation to The King in Yellow. I could find no relevance to this theme in the remaining five stories. I went into the book figuring all the stories would have some tie to the main concept but I suppose that was my own fault for presuming. The interesting part about this idea of The King in Yellow is that those who read the book become madmen but you, the reader, never find out exactly what this book/play con This was an odd collection. My version contained 10 stories of which only 5 had some correlation to The King in Yellow. I could find no relevance to this theme in the remaining five stories. I went into the book figuring all the stories would have some tie to the main concept but I suppose that was my own fault for presuming. The interesting part about this idea of The King in Yellow is that those who read the book become madmen but you, the reader, never find out exactly what this book/play contains. There are lines quoted from the book and other oblique references but nothing explicit. This type of writing resonates with me, I have always enjoyed stories that leave some things to the readers own imagination. If I was rating just the King in Yellow stories this would be a five star book but the other stories, while not bad were not what I was looking for from this collection and would get three stars. Along the shore the cloud waves break, The twin suns sink beneath the lake, The shadows lengthen In Carcosa. Strange is the night where black stars rise, And strange moons circle through the skies But stanger still is Lost Carcosa. Songs that the Hyades shall sing, Where flap the tatters of the King, Must die unheard in Dim Carcosa. Song of my soul, my voice is dead; Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed Shall dry and die in Lost Carcosa. Cassilda's Song in "The King in Yellow" Act 1, Scene 2.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Merl Fluin

    The five stars are for the first four stories in this collection: "The Repairer Of Reputations", "The Mask", "In The Court Of The Dragon" and "The Yellow Sign". Those four are the "King in Yellow" stories proper, and they're superb. To paraphrase Clive Barker, when you read a horror story you should feel that you're in the hands of a madman. That was how I felt while I was reading those stories – particularly the first, a spectacularly wild ride, and the fourth, which operates more stealthily (a The five stars are for the first four stories in this collection: "The Repairer Of Reputations", "The Mask", "In The Court Of The Dragon" and "The Yellow Sign". Those four are the "King in Yellow" stories proper, and they're superb. To paraphrase Clive Barker, when you read a horror story you should feel that you're in the hands of a madman. That was how I felt while I was reading those stories – particularly the first, a spectacularly wild ride, and the fourth, which operates more stealthily (and seems to foreshadow a famous sequence in Dreyer's Vampyr, for all you horror movie buffs). There are six other stories in the collection. They have less and less in common with the "King in Yellow" theme as the book progresses, although the final story does take you on a tour of night-time Paris that includes some of the locations mentioned in the first four. But they're of variable interest, and more at the three-star level overall; some of them are frankly sappy romances. But even when the stories themselves started to border on the banal, I found myself admiring Chambers's technical skill as a writer. According to the introduction to this edition, before he turned to writing Chambers trained as an artist, and he certainly brings a painterly eye to his descriptions of people, places and things. For example, "The Street Of The First Shell" is too long, too overcrowded with characters and too hard to follow as a narrative, but it opens with a description of a young woman sewing that's so beautifully done it glows with light and colour. But of course, it's the utterly unhinged "King In Yellow" that's going to stay with me. "Have you found the Yellow Sign?" Brrrr.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    FTC DISCLOSURE: I am the publisher of this book. Are you a fan of the hit HBO show "True Detective?" I sure am! And after finally checking out the real 1895 horror collection that this show's Satanic mythos is based around, Robert W. Chambers' 1895 "The King in Yellow," and especially after being disappointed at all the crappy, sloppily done editions currently for sale at Amazon, I decided that my arts center could do better; and thus volume one of our new "CCLaP Victoriana" series, in which we p FTC DISCLOSURE: I am the publisher of this book. Are you a fan of the hit HBO show "True Detective?" I sure am! And after finally checking out the real 1895 horror collection that this show's Satanic mythos is based around, Robert W. Chambers' 1895 "The King in Yellow," and especially after being disappointed at all the crappy, sloppily done editions currently for sale at Amazon, I decided that my arts center could do better; and thus volume one of our new "CCLaP Victoriana" series, in which we present gorgeously designed yet scholarly accurate editions of cult classics from the 1800s, along with brand-new introductions from yours truly that give you more of the book's historical background. You can of course download this book for free at places like Project Gutenberg; but for an extra-great reading experience, I encourage you to pick up this exquisitely done new paperback edition that was inspired directly by "True Detective," to help us fund future titles in this series.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rick Soper

    I read this book because I saw an article that mentioned it as a source material for the HBO series True Detective. And yes there are parts that might have been pulled from this book, but they aren't the only source for the show. I found this book pretty interesting from a historical perspective because it was very influential to many horror authors who came afterwards, very specifically HP Lovecraft. Now I've always loved HP Lovecraft and i could see where he might have found inspiration in The I read this book because I saw an article that mentioned it as a source material for the HBO series True Detective. And yes there are parts that might have been pulled from this book, but they aren't the only source for the show. I found this book pretty interesting from a historical perspective because it was very influential to many horror authors who came afterwards, very specifically HP Lovecraft. Now I've always loved HP Lovecraft and i could see where he might have found inspiration in The King in Yellow. The book is a collection of 10 short stories broken into three subjects, The Weird Tales, A Ghost Story, and The Artistes. The first two section are pretty cool, not over the top King/Lovecraft cool, but the kind of stories that can stick in your mind. The basic premise being that the people who read the book "The King in Yellow" (which is a play according to the stories) go crazy. The King starts ok in the first act, but then the second tears off the wrapper of the craziness and seeps into the readers brain like a cancer that consumes them with delusions that tear apart their view of reality. But then we get to the Artistes stories which were ok from the perspective of historically seeing what Paris was like at the time this book was written in 1895, but other than that they really don't go anywhere and strike me more as filler than a continuation of the wonderment that started off the first half of the book. All in all the first part is worth checking out, but the back half leaves a lot to be desired.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aidan Hennessy

    Classic of weird fiction and inspiration for much of Lovecraft's imagery.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wreade1872

    No... nope, does not work. I tried i really did and i can see why people like these tales but i seriously believe they're judging them more on potential than actuality. Look the writing isn't bad, Chambers has a decent ability to paint a scene and his characters are actually quite good, as are his ideas. However there is not a single completely satisfying story in the bunch. Its quite remarkable but everyone of them has some sort of crippling tonal inconsistency or plot incoherency. At times it f No... nope, does not work. I tried i really did and i can see why people like these tales but i seriously believe they're judging them more on potential than actuality. Look the writing isn't bad, Chambers has a decent ability to paint a scene and his characters are actually quite good, as are his ideas. However there is not a single completely satisfying story in the bunch. Its quite remarkable but everyone of them has some sort of crippling tonal inconsistency or plot incoherency. At times it feels like your reading something in translation. The best tales are actually the ones near the end of the collection and those are just parisian love stories. They're the best simply because they have the least defects but they're not particularly compelling especially if your expecting weird fiction. Then there is the 'King in Yellow' motif itself, another good thing wasted. The idea being that the collection would be held together by each story referencing a fictional play called the 'King in Yellow'. In reality only about a 3rd of the stories make any reference to it which is just aswell because it NEVER works! The fragments of the 'King in Yellow' are too different to any of the tales to be anything but another problem, but its also never used as a contrast to the main text so its worthless. It never adds to the text, its effect is always neutral or detrimental and most of the time feels forced into the plots as an afterthought. Disappointing.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I read this short volume of "interrelated" stories some time ago, but wanted to go over it again before I rated or reviewed it. The "book" is built around the existence of a fictional play, "The King in Yellow". In the opening story, The Repairer of Reputations" (which can be seen not only as horror but also as a sort of alternate history, though in it's own time of writing it was placed 25 years in the future), we are told that the book is universally reviled, condemned, and censored. It "appar I read this short volume of "interrelated" stories some time ago, but wanted to go over it again before I rated or reviewed it. The "book" is built around the existence of a fictional play, "The King in Yellow". In the opening story, The Repairer of Reputations" (which can be seen not only as horror but also as a sort of alternate history, though in it's own time of writing it was placed 25 years in the future), we are told that the book is universally reviled, condemned, and censored. It "apparently" attacks the sanity of any reader. This story is told from the point of view of an "unreliable narrator" who has been in a "hospital" (an asylum) for the insane. The stories continue in various forms moving from psychological terror to almost pure romance and back again. I suppose the best description of this book would be "esoteric" (maybe pronounce it with a "long E" in front so it sounds more exotic). I found it by turns interesting, absorbing, or boring. If you're a Lovecraft fan he liked this book and (apparently) included it's influence in his own writing. I'd say try it, like the work of Lovecraft, Chambers will appeal to some and not to others. I liked some stories and not others so it seems it's also possible to fall somewhere in between the extremes also. So, not a bad read, enjoy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ed Erwin

    I have seen the Yellow Sign! (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] The first 4 (or maybe 5) stories here are classics of Weird stories, included in the Cthulu mythos. They are also very difficult to decipher. They seem simple on a first reading, but nothing is what it seems. Narrators are very unreliable. No interpretation seems definitive. It is possible to find this for free on Project Gutenberg and other places. I decided to splurge on a 99 cent version with "notes". The notes consisted only of an int I have seen the Yellow Sign! (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] The first 4 (or maybe 5) stories here are classics of Weird stories, included in the Cthulu mythos. They are also very difficult to decipher. They seem simple on a first reading, but nothing is what it seems. Narrators are very unreliable. No interpretation seems definitive. It is possible to find this for free on Project Gutenberg and other places. I decided to splurge on a 99 cent version with "notes". The notes consisted only of an introduction which contains a biography of Robert Chambers. Note, however, that Robert Chambers, while interesting, has nothing to do with this book by Robert W. Chambers. That, I think, is the perfect edition of the book, since it teaches you to trust nothing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    R.

    Non-text note: This particular Ace paperback edition of The King in Yellow contains an ancestor of the online pop-up ad: the cardstock paper cigarette advert embedded into the binding approx. midway, for True and Newport cigarettes. True: slashes tar in half and a taste worth smoking! (illustrated with a Sesame Street-ish big white No. 5 sitting proudly atop the phrase "mgs. of tar") ... Newport: Alive with Pleasure! (the concept of "pleasure" illustrated as a mustachio'd Bo Duke looking dude tr Non-text note: This particular Ace paperback edition of The King in Yellow contains an ancestor of the online pop-up ad: the cardstock paper cigarette advert embedded into the binding approx. midway, for True and Newport cigarettes. True: slashes tar in half and a taste worth smoking! (illustrated with a Sesame Street-ish big white No. 5 sitting proudly atop the phrase "mgs. of tar") ... Newport: Alive with Pleasure! (the concept of "pleasure" illustrated as a mustachio'd Bo Duke looking dude trying to show a laughing-with-eyes-closed Farrah Fawcett clone/discocaine queen the finer aspects of archery: she's not taking him - or this outdoor weekend of his he cooked up to salvage their relationship - seriously! Ha ha ha! Pssssh! Ha ha ha!: and please note in the picture neither has a Newport, the menthol kings, dangling from their lips) ....Also, before Amazon or online recommendations and ordering? The back of the book has little check-the-box and clip-out coupons for Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ursula K. Leguin, Clifford Simak, Fritz Leiber, Philip K. Dick and Mack Reynolds (Five Way Secret Agent/Mercenary from Tomorrow 95 cents! - plus 35 cents handling fee per copy!).

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    I read this because of the 2013 HA Horrors Best Book challenge. The King in Yellow is a collection of short stories first published in 1895. I liked the way a few of the stories, although completely different, were connected to “The Yellow King” or “The King in Yellow”. The reading was a bit slow for me and the horror is subdued, but the stories themselves are told very well with a lot left to the imagination. It is interesting to note that this collection created an entire mythos of its own and I read this because of the 2013 HA Horrors Best Book challenge. The King in Yellow is a collection of short stories first published in 1895. I liked the way a few of the stories, although completely different, were connected to “The Yellow King” or “The King in Yellow”. The reading was a bit slow for me and the horror is subdued, but the stories themselves are told very well with a lot left to the imagination. It is interesting to note that this collection created an entire mythos of its own and heavily influenced some of the greatest early horror writers to expound on its concepts and are still widely used today. Definitely required reading for any horror aficionado. Plus it was written in 18 F'N 95 which is pretty amazing that it still stands up.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kirstin

    The Repairer of Reputations 5 stars- Excellent story! The Mask 4 stars-Brought to mind a Twilight Zone episode In the Court of the Dragon. 3 stars- Didn't really make an impression on me The Yellow Sign 5 stars- Loved this one! The Demoiselle d'Ys 4 stars- Enjoyable read The Prophets' Paradise 1 star- Can't say I liked these short snippets of conversations The Street of the Four Winds 4 stars- Really liked this one! I didn't finish the other 3

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lilyn G. | Sci-Fi & Scary

    I've never read 'The King In Yellow' before. Somehow I wasn't even aware of it until fairly recently. Then, when I was, it seemed to pop up everywhere for a while.  It was like the fates were decreeing that I needed to read this book. I decided to consider it part of my "Read all the Horror Greats" crusade that I am (ever so slowly) making progress on. On a side note: I was quite surprised by the reception of The King in Yellow when I asked about it on Instagram and Twitter. (You can find me both I've never read 'The King In Yellow' before. Somehow I wasn't even aware of it until fairly recently. Then, when I was, it seemed to pop up everywhere for a while.  It was like the fates were decreeing that I needed to read this book. I decided to consider it part of my "Read all the Horror Greats" crusade that I am (ever so slowly) making progress on. On a side note: I was quite surprised by the reception of The King in Yellow when I asked about it on Instagram and Twitter. (You can find me both places at @scifiandscary.) Generally with any book I ask about, there's always at least one or two people that poo-poo it. That was not the case here. While I did get warned that there were some romance stories in it, everyone who had read it seemed to like it. My opinion started off high, and then got steadily lower. I've talked about my favorites of the book below. The Repairer of Reputations - The first story in 'The King in Yellow'. It bothered me because of the current trend in America that certain members of society are trying to push upon us. That being, of course, the idea that the country will be better if we push out all the foreigners.  I was immediately caught up in Chambers' vision, even as I was mentally scoffing at it. (I was scoffing because most of America just doesn't seem to have that much common sense any more in terms of taking care of its land and people.) I don't know what I was expecting from the story. Actually, I don't think I was expecting anything other than it being creepy. What I found was weirdness. You go from this view of America "recovering" to being inside the mind of a guy who may or may not be batshit. The way Chambers built things up was masterful though, and I found myself enjoying the story. Did hope the rest of them were a bit more creepy though. I found it funny that I was expecting an actual story of the King in Yellow. I had no clue this was a book that would be involved in the stories. The Mask - This was one of the 'romance' stories I had been warned about. To my surprise, I enjoyed it as well.  I was captivated by a particular process involved early in the story. Chambers has a way with words that delights me. Even though some of what was going to happen was fairly obvious, I still found myself pleasantly surprised at the end. In the Court of the Dragon - I didn't care much for this one, though while reading it I did feel vaguely uneasy. He does a good job of making the reader feel the presence of a stalking evil. The Yellow Sign - This was a fun one. It's amazing how creepy something can be without the character/the reader ever directly interacting with it. I was thoroughly grossed out. The ending felt like a bit of a cop-out,but I was, overall, squicked out enough that I didn't even care. The rest of the stories are gag-a-maggot mush that just don't appeal to me on any level. Overall, while I think Robert W. Chambers is insanely talented when it comes to the horror side of things, I can't say I'd buy this book. Maybe if I could get an edition with just the four horror stories in it, I'd consider it.  (Why is this book so awkwardly bundled, anyways? Can someone explain?)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Suvi

    When I re-read Ambrose Bierce's An Inhabitant of Carcosa in February, I decided to finally revisit The King in Yellow after trying to get into it several months back and never managing to gain enough enthusiasm for it. Now the situation was completely different. The first story, The Repairer of Reputations, is a great introduction to Chambers's universe. It starts as a sci-fi story of sorts, but then it slowly makes you question everything you've read previously. In The Mask, an unusual scientif When I re-read Ambrose Bierce's An Inhabitant of Carcosa in February, I decided to finally revisit The King in Yellow after trying to get into it several months back and never managing to gain enough enthusiasm for it. Now the situation was completely different. The first story, The Repairer of Reputations, is a great introduction to Chambers's universe. It starts as a sci-fi story of sorts, but then it slowly makes you question everything you've read previously. In The Mask, an unusual scientific discovery is able to turn living beings into marble. In the Court of the Dragon leans heavily towards horror with its creepy as hell organist, and The Yellow Sign (my absolute favorite) is an equally sinister story about a man who is disturbed by a worm-like churchyard watchman, who babbles about the Yellow Sign. The Street of the Four Winds has a kitty. Kitties for the win (and people who talk to their cats like they're their friends)! The rest of the stories, although enjoyable, weren't simply even comparable to the great beginning. While not bad on their own, I'm still struggling to understand why Chambers decided to include them in the collection in the first place, instead of writing more about the yellow king and the play that has the power to drive people mad (what a fantastic concept, by the way!). There are a few connections between the first and the latter half, but they're mostly superficial, and the tone is significantly different in the stories about artists in Paris. What comes to the mythology, it's definitely interesting enough to warrant a position in literary history. I haven't had much interest toward Lovecraft or cosmic horror in general, but the Yellow Sign (which inspired Lovecraft, by the way) is somehow very intriguing. The more you try to grab hold of it, the further it escapes from your grasp, and that mystery and lack of answers are the keys to Chambers's success. Apparently, apart from a few names, Bierce's story has nothing in common with Chambers's stories, but the parts True Detective referenced are easy to spot. The starry sky, the mind control aspect, the ear thing with Mr. Wilde and youknowwho etc. Reading The King in Yellow doesn't necessarily help you navigate through the show, but I don't think it's supposed to. The mythology just adds to the mysteries of the show and makes the South a whole lot creepier. I'll never look at the color yellow the same way again, that's for sure. Strange is the night where black stars rise, And strange moons circle through the skies But stranger still is Lost Carcosa.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers is a Classic collection of ten short stories with a creepy supernatural feel and a book within a book. The first five stories all have one recurring item linking them together; a old and twisted book that seems to have incredibly disturbing and damaging effects on all who read it. This book's title is of course ‘The King In Yellow’. All these five stories worked really well, both on their own and together. Having this weird and inhuman book affecting all d The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers is a Classic collection of ten short stories with a creepy supernatural feel and a book within a book. The first five stories all have one recurring item linking them together; a old and twisted book that seems to have incredibly disturbing and damaging effects on all who read it. This book's title is of course ‘The King In Yellow’. All these five stories worked really well, both on their own and together. Having this weird and inhuman book affecting all different and unrelated peoples lives was interesting to see. The five stories in the second half of the book did not work as well for me personally. The switch in the overall feel was dramatic, going from spooky and surreal to tame art nouveau tales. The first five were fast paced and had a really good rhythm and flow to them. The second half felt greatly slowed and drawn out. In Summary: An interesting short story collection with a curious 50/50 split in theme and feel; the first 5 stories worked for me, the second half didn't.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Raymond

    First, let's all be honest. We're only all reading this because we're addicted to True Detective. The show is inspired, at least in part, by this book, so reading it became a priority. If you're looking for insight into the show, nothing is obvious. The themes that are borrowed have been discussed at length. That leaves the short stories, half of which feel like they inspired Laird Barron directly, half of which are ultimately forgettable on a whole. Not all of Lovecraft's stories were winners, e First, let's all be honest. We're only all reading this because we're addicted to True Detective. The show is inspired, at least in part, by this book, so reading it became a priority. If you're looking for insight into the show, nothing is obvious. The themes that are borrowed have been discussed at length. That leaves the short stories, half of which feel like they inspired Laird Barron directly, half of which are ultimately forgettable on a whole. Not all of Lovecraft's stories were winners, either, but nostalgia and Mythos/HBO drama links aren't enough to really sustain this. On the other hand, it's a freebie in the public domain, so... I reserve the right, of course, to change my mind on this if the show ends up different. It may end up being a brilliant inspiration that works better as a companion. Worth it for hardcore weird fic types, but that's all.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    Initially, I went into this with low expectations (it’s hard not to notice the low GR rating), and so maybe that was why I ended up enjoying this one more than I thought I would. The King in Yellow is comprised of ten short stories. The first 5/6 of which mainly deal with the aforementioned: the titular “King in Yellow”— a play that, if read, drives the reader mad— as well as the dreaded “Yellow Sign”. Each of these stories surprised me- they were macabre and quite unsettling. I should mention how Initially, I went into this with low expectations (it’s hard not to notice the low GR rating), and so maybe that was why I ended up enjoying this one more than I thought I would. The King in Yellow is comprised of ten short stories. The first 5/6 of which mainly deal with the aforementioned: the titular “King in Yellow”— a play that, if read, drives the reader mad— as well as the dreaded “Yellow Sign”. Each of these stories surprised me- they were macabre and quite unsettling. I should mention how creeped out I was by a few of them; even more-so than some of the genre fiction I’ve read in recent memory. That is truly a great feat for a book that was written 150+ years ago. Of the first six shorts, the two in particular I liked the most were “The Mask”— weird science and madness— and “The Demoiselle d'Ys”— a superbly crafted ghost story. It was only when I began the last few stories that I became confused. Gone was The King in Yellow motif and the eerie themes of the previous shorts. The remaining stories, in fact, were more romantic in nature. There was one that dealt with the Paris Siege of 1870, though, which I found thrilling, and a few love stories that worked better than many modern romance novels... and Mr. Chambers mananged to do it all in half the pages. Each of these drifted between America and the demimonde of Paris, where artists and bohemians reigned, so the characters that populated it were romantics in-and-of themselves to begin with. It was a drastic shift in tone I wasn’t expecting, but enjoyed nonetheless. So, on the whole, I liked more of the stories than I didn’t (I’d say 7/10). If anything, I’m pleasantly surprised to find this odd collection exceeded my expectations.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elektrohase

    Just dnf'd it. It was too boring, sorry to say that. It was a great start with the repairer of reputations, the stories after this were mediocre and got more and more uninteresting.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dergrossest

    I only read this book because I am a True Detective slappy and needed something to help with my withdrawal after the conclusion of the series. I confess that I embarked on my reading with some trepidation since I saw that the author inspired H.P. Lovecraft, who I think is as frightening as over-cooked pasta and as exciting as a Mitt Romney campaign rally. Anyway, I am happy to report that my fears were unfounded. The King in Yellow has a truly weird vibe to it, sprinkled as it is with odd excerpt I only read this book because I am a True Detective slappy and needed something to help with my withdrawal after the conclusion of the series. I confess that I embarked on my reading with some trepidation since I saw that the author inspired H.P. Lovecraft, who I think is as frightening as over-cooked pasta and as exciting as a Mitt Romney campaign rally. Anyway, I am happy to report that my fears were unfounded. The King in Yellow has a truly weird vibe to it, sprinkled as it is with odd excerpts from some horrible play that drives men mad, and its short stories were surprisingly well written. The first story, The Repairer of Reputations, is by far the best of the lot and quite the unsettling tale of a man driven mad by a brain trauma and now committed to restoring the never defined, but clearly unholy, reign of the King in Yellow from some other plane of existence with a deformed, masochistic and bat-shit crazy accomplice funding their efforts through an elaborate campaign of extortion. The mood is dark and disturbing with strong anti-immigrant and Fascist undertones, but what is truly amazing is the author’s anticipation of the First World War and state-sanctioned assisted suicide. I kept re-checking the 1895 publication date while reading this story, amazed at how prescient and strangely modern it felt. The rest of the stories are not as good, but still generally entertaining, if occasionally a little silly and surprisingly romantic. Nevertheless, I was glad I finished the book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    Thank goodness for True Detective. Without it, The King in Yellow might never again have made it back into the mainstream, which would be a shame. This is a wonderful and creepy book. The opening four stories are what lend the book its title. All four refer to the fictional play "The King in Yellow." It's a work so horrible in its truth that it drives mad all those who read it. Needless to say, several within the first four do. The back six are, while occasionally tinged with the supernatural, for Thank goodness for True Detective. Without it, The King in Yellow might never again have made it back into the mainstream, which would be a shame. This is a wonderful and creepy book. The opening four stories are what lend the book its title. All four refer to the fictional play "The King in Yellow." It's a work so horrible in its truth that it drives mad all those who read it. Needless to say, several within the first four do. The back six are, while occasionally tinged with the supernatural, for the most part rather ordinary tales that inhabit the world. A puzzling thing, considering there is no mention of The King In Yellow again. This is the work's genius. Much like the play itself, of which the first act is an addictive introduction to the play, one that can be safely read (unlike the second act, which drives readers mad), The King in Yellow uses its creepy opening to drive reader interest, then switches to an almost disappointingly normal mode of storytelling. The reader is deprived of a follow-up, hooked as they were by the first act of the collection of short stories. It's also a reminder of the world that this fictional play inhabits. It is a normal world, brought to horror and ruin by the words of the play. Without them, life goes on, with mortal lives encountering mortal problems. Without a doubt one of the most interesting pieces of horror fiction around, The King in Yellow is worthy of the esteem in which it is held, and a mandatory read for those with an interest in the roots of modern fantasy and horror.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Robin Bo

    I hardly know what to write about this one. I would agree with most people that the first story is the best and left with me with a feeling of genuine disquiet after reading it. There are several of the other stories that I thoroughly enjoyed however my one complaint is that while the initial stories obviously had the King in Yellow theme, the later stories seemed not to and I began to lose track of how there were connected. I have no doubt the stories are all meant to connect somehow but I seem I hardly know what to write about this one. I would agree with most people that the first story is the best and left with me with a feeling of genuine disquiet after reading it. There are several of the other stories that I thoroughly enjoyed however my one complaint is that while the initial stories obviously had the King in Yellow theme, the later stories seemed not to and I began to lose track of how there were connected. I have no doubt the stories are all meant to connect somehow but I seem to have lost the thread about half way through! That being said, it is a fascinating read, especially considering this is late Victorian writing. It reads so incredibly modern considering it was published in 1895! I would recommend folks to try it. I can't guarantee you'll love it, but it's an experience!

  30. 5 out of 5

    David

    Perturbing little collection. The first five stories are certainly more directly unsettling, and if you're here because of True Detective, you'll find more overt connections there. But the rest of the stories are certainly worth reading, and I think the themes of TD definitely connect deeply to those last stories. Side point: this is why the current approach to public domain in the US is disastrous. Look what a wonderful web of intrigue Pizzolatto's woven from this old work, and what a cool thing Perturbing little collection. The first five stories are certainly more directly unsettling, and if you're here because of True Detective, you'll find more overt connections there. But the rest of the stories are certainly worth reading, and I think the themes of TD definitely connect deeply to those last stories. Side point: this is why the current approach to public domain in the US is disastrous. Look what a wonderful web of intrigue Pizzolatto's woven from this old work, and what a cool thing it is that he's sent us all back scrambling to read Bierce, Chambers, and Lovecraft. By our cowardly congress yielding to "content providers" like Disney an extension of protection from works entering the public domain, they stifle creativity like this. It's disgusting.

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