Fantasy · Horror · Short Stories

The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

A great collection of classic horror stories that are definitely worth it.

I was expecting just one type of story so I was a bit disappointed to read others while the title indicated otherwise. Even so, they were pleasant to read and I enjoyed them more than I thought I would. The novel consists of four horror tales, each different from the other but still loosely connected. The King in Yellow is a cursed book that no one seems able to read until the end, driving people to insanity and even commit suicide. It makes an appearance in all the four stories I think it’s a nice touch, the book seems to have the ability to compel people to read it, which adds spice to the stories.

The style of writing is beautiful and compelling, like hearing a soft, creepy melody coming out of the book but with words instead of music notes.

Here are the summaries and some light comments of each story:

The Repairer of Reputations
A weird but enjoyable read. The narrator tells the story of how he fell from a horse and confined to a mental institution until the doctors realise there was a misdiagnosis. After being freed, he plans to take revenge on the doctor while trying to deal with growing feelings for his brother’s fiancée. The narrator spends time with a mysterious man that “fixes” reputations by dealing with scandals. Everyone seems to think this man is mad… or is the narrator the mad one?

I truly enjoyed this one! It’s creepy, very well described and a great start to the collection.

The Mask
It tells the story of the young creator of a sculpture called “The Fates” and his death. The sculptor, also a chemist, creates a potion that whatever is put inside turns to stone. He begins to experiment with flowers and goldfishes but finishes by filling his pool with the solution…

This one is more on the creepy side since we see it through the eyes of the narrator, the man in love with the sculptor’s wife. With that said, it’s not hard to guess what takes place after. Even so, it was a tragic line to it.

In the Court of the Dragon
A man becomes increasingly troubled as he becomes aware of an evil force during church services. It seems that this force is working against him. Is there an evil force at work or is it all in his head?

The worst things are those you can’t see. This story takes this to a new level and it leaves trying to figure out of there is actually something there or not. Very psychological indeed! On the downside, I think the author had space to go develop a bit more the character and go a bit more in-depth into the story. I feel it wouldn’t lose any intensity if it was a bit longer.

The Yellow Sign
Similarly to the “In the Court of the Dragon”, a bohemian artist senses an evil force around the night watchman of the churchyard right outside his window. The man almost looks like he’s dead and skeletally so. In the beginning, he discards his wild, irrational fears, but when hi favourite model begins to suffer from bizarre nightmares, and the neighbours tell a few disturbing tales, he begins to question his sanity. The King in Yellow come out to play and we all know that it’s not the sign of a happy ending.

Robert Chambers and his work was unknown to me before I read this book and I highly enjoyed it. I will definitely look at his other works.

I recommend this book to fans of short stories, both from the horror and romance/drama genres.

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher Pushkin Press for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.

5 Stars

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