The King in Yellow
By Robert W. Chambers
Published in 1895
Thibault’s Score: 2/5
The King in Yellow is a collection of short stories written in the late 19th century by American author Robert Chambers.
I bought the book for three reasons. First, it was a favorite of HP Lovecraft, who is an author who influenced me. Second, I physically liked the book (it's beautifully printed, pictured is my copy). Finally, I wanted to have some short stories that I could quietly read (not audiobook) while my daughter sleeps.
I was hoping for some Lovecraftian cosmic horror. Instead, I got some mediocre sappy 19th century romantic fiction mixed in with discount Edgar Allan Poe tier spooky fiction. Because I don’t recommend it, this review will contain spoilers.
The first story that I read, called The Repairer of Reputations, had an extremely interesting set up. It takes place in New York in 1920. Of course, because the book was written in 1895, it isn’t our 1920 - its 1920 as it was imagined by an American upper-class elite author from 1895. The story correctly predicts WW1, the militarization of America, the exclusion of Jews from immigrating to the US, and the redevelopment of New York city. It also makes some seemingly absurd predictions such as the creation of an independent negro state in Louisiana. I got a great dystopian vibes from it. However, the rest of the story fell flat.
I then read a mediocre soppy romance story about two sculptors who loved the same French woman, and a boring lazy story about some guy who fell asleep during mass at a church and had a nightmare.
Finally, the last story was about a painter who saw a creepy man staring at him from the window. It was a little bit more mysterious than the other three stories, and had some better Lovecraftian elements; however it still fell short.
Overall I do not recommend the King in Yellow.
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