- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Wordsworth Editions (5 May 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1840226447
- ISBN-13: 978-1840226447
- Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 1.3 x 19.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 62 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The King in Yellow (Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural) Paperback – 5 May 2010
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This has become something of a cult classic over the years and does have many hardcore fans. We can quite clearly here see some inspiration coming through from Ambrose Bierce’s writings, and from there we can see how this book has influenced many over the years; most notably H P Lovecraft springs to mind with his Cthulhu Mythos.
Before each story here we have a piece from the actual fictional play, which supposedly if you read in full will drive you mad and kill you. The first story here is arguably the best, and by the time you get to the last few the decadence, the macabre and the weirdness is much toned down or missing, as these latter tales are more in the way of what would have been called romance writing.
This won’t be for everyone, and if you are not a particular fan of weird fiction I would recommend that perhaps you give this a miss. Robert William Chambers is arguably these days remembered only really for this book, although he was a prolific writer. The problem with Chambers has always been that although he could come up with some really good ideas and plots he just wasn’t as good a writer as one would have expected, and if it hadn’t been for Lovecraft we would probably not even have heard of this book these days.
It may seem like I have a bit of a downer on this book, but that isn’t so it is just that others have come along and written much better, but this is still an important text as quite a few people do enjoy it, and it has been influential on novels and short stories up unto today.
Fans of H P Lovecraft will find something to love but general or literary readers will likely be disappointed. My initial excitement faded and I got bored. Most of the stories have an unconvincing 'whiplash' ending and the overarching theme is weak. It doesn't develop the mystery of The King in Yellow: the fictional book at the seat of the collection. It just repeats the book's side effects on the stories' protagonists. I found this trying.
Chambers is skilled at showing his characters' declining mental states, and he can paint a vivid scene, but he's not great on plot or pace. I wanted to fall in love with this book. I didn't. Maybe you will. It's all a matter of taste.
I would recommend this for the first 4 stories alone, however be aware that the beginning is the best bit.
Like most people, I read this off the back of 'True Detective' and the book is as suited to McConaughey's character. I wonder if this book inspired 'House of leaves' as I was left in a very similar state of mind when I finished it.
I'd recommend it for you to read and the revisit True Detective, to see if you can make out more of the characters in both the series and the book.
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Most recent customer reviews
You may hate it, or you may have a new favourite book. Only one way to find out.
Is it unputdownable? No.
Is it turgid in places? Yes.Read more