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The King in Yellow and Other Horror Stories

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  7,034 ratings  ·  517 reviews
"Every story of The King in Yellow has something riveting about it … so perfectly realized, they became the model for much of twentieth-century horror/fantasy." — New York Press
One of the most important works of American supernatural fiction since those of Poe, The King in Yellow was among the first attempts to establish the horror of the nameless and the unimaginable. A t
Paperback, 287 pages
Published July 30th 2004 by Dover Publications (first published 1970)
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May 07, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

Back in 2014 when I was still in college, My friends and I sat down and decided to watch a brand new detective TV show airing on HBO. There were two detectives and ritual murders, two timelines and unknown mysteries. By the time I finished watching a few episodes, I knew I was witnessing one of the best damn TV show ever produced.

True detective Season 1.

One thing I did not understand while watching the show was the constant reference to the Yellow King and the mysterious lands of C
May 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to Evgeny by: Althea Ann
Shelves: horror
This is a collection of short stories from an American writer who is not widely known these days. He is also credited with having influenced some horror writers including H.P. Lovecraft.
The King in Yellow
This collection mentions horror in its title; this is misleading as only first four stories can be qualified for this genre. Some blurbs mention the stores have common theme of fictional book The King in Yellow present in them (think about it as a small and much less harmful version of Lovecraft's Necronomicon);
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
I finished reading The King In Yellow and I'm feeling pretty good about myself. I feel satisfied that I've finally read this horror classic and I feel somewhat enlightened about the HBO show True Detective.

The KiY consists of a total of 8 stories. 4 horror, 1 ghost, 1 war and two romance-y type tales. The horror tales were my favorites of the collection, most especially "The Repairer of Reputations". These shorts were loosely connected by a play in book form titled The King in Yellow. Anyone wh
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Dangerous Reading

Alternating between fin de siècle New York and Paris, many (but not the majority) of these stories allude to another manuscript which is not present, the eponymous The King in Yellow. The experience is one of reading the second half of Cervantes’s Don Quixote but knowing the first half only through the second.

The King in Yellow is a play, fragments of which are strewn throughout the stories. It is referred to as a the “the supreme work of art.” However, it has been banned in se
Althea Ann
Mar 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
- The Repairer of Reputations
A re-read.
This story is wonderfully weird - and disturbing on several levels.
Set in a future 1920, the world has made several steps toward peace and stability. (I'm not sure I like them, and I'm also not so sure the author does, either.) The introductory segment drags on a bit, reminding me a bit in style of Edward Bellamy's 'Looking Backward' (1888). Then, the story really starts...
Our narrator lets us know that after a fall from a horse, he was unjustly confined t
mark monday

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 stru
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outside of Poe and Lovecraft, "The Yellow Sign" may be the most influential horror story ever written. It is the bridge between Gothic, Decadent, and Modern in horror. Unfortunately Chambers killed a lot of other trees. One of the most popular authors of his time, he is almost forgotten except for the slim little volume known as "The King In Yellow." He wrote mainly unreadable sappy romances and unadventurous adventures. Lovecraft agonized over Chamber's wastage of his talent.

The Yellow Sign is
Just read Ambrose Bierce's "An Inhabitant of Carcosa" instead. Really. Read it. It is brief, timeless, and creepy; three things Robert Chambers tries too hard for in The King in Yellow. The King is Yellow is gimmicky copycat weirdness.

The King in Yellow is a sub-collection of the first five stories of this book. The five short stories have a mythology and structure taken from Bierce's short story. Chambers' stories also share slight interconnections beyond the concepts of Carcosa, Hali, and the
Mark McLaughlin
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The stories in THE KING IN YELLOW are beautiful and wicked, and are required reading for true horror enthusiasts. THE KING IN YELLOW is also the title of a book within this book: in these stories, anyone who reads the fictional book of the same name goes mad. This concept is what inspired H.P. Lovecraft to come up with the concept of the NECRONOMICON -- a book that drives the reader insane.

The stories are in this collection are told in a somewhat leisurely fashion, but stick with them. They're
Jun 16, 2014 rated it liked it
There's something ... disquieting about reading a science fiction story written in the late 1890s and set in the fabulous future of 1920.

This was a bit of an odd one -- a short story collection, but the stories themselves were two disparate halves kind of welded together. The stories in the first section (for which the book is best known) were fabulous (in the literal sense of the word), to one degree or another, including the aforementioned SF story ("The Repairer of Reputations"), "The Yellow
Printable Tire
Jan 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of many books I've purchased because the cover is cool and I've never heard of it or the author before. I read it concurrently with The Sketchbook of Washington Irving, which turned out to be a very appropriate pairing. From the Introduction (which I would recommend reading afterwards, as the stuffy though astute editor might turn you off from the ensuing book) I gleam that Chambers was one of a million forgettable, forgotten writers of copious crap in an olden age nobody really know ...more
Mattia Ravasi
Jun 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
(I'm guessing this is the same collection I've read)

The Restorer of Reputations (or whatever) is a great and fascinating horror story with a nice twist and a good amount of atmosphere to it, but the rest of it is far from horror. That said it's all fairly amazing, except for a severe lack of good and snappy endings, but it doesn't reach the levels of other masters of the genre (HP above all of course). The best stories are actually the love ones, with the very last one being particuarly touching
Sep 11, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone

The King in Yellow and Other Horror Stories is a collection drawn from four books of short stories: The King in Yellow (1895), The Maker of Moons (1896), The Mystery of Choice (1897), and In Search of the Unknown (1904). These twelve stories are certainly dated and might not be counted among the best short fiction ever written, but they all have their moments. There is an excellent Introduction which tells the reader about Robert Chambers and each of the tales.

While there may be flaws in the sto
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Had this been only the first four or five stories (out of the ten), I would have rated this four stars easily, and I feel like my two-star rating is a bit punitive. I might come back and re-score it a 3 or even a 4 when I don't feel as deceived.

The first four stories are horror stories concerning a book called "The King in Yellow," a play which has an effect on its readers, causing strange visions and erratic behavior. They contain some really interesting imagery and tantalizing glimpses into th
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jerry Jose
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The King in Yellow is a medieval play infamous for inducing madness and despair among its readers, a monstrosity denunciated by pulpit and press, the one its author shot himself for bringing forth.
It is fictional.

This book contains concatenated weird macabre(and amazing) short stories, built around the above-mentioned infamous and forbidden play.
They are fictional too.

It would be probably safe to tag above collection as proto-lovecraftian since passing references to the Yellow King, Hastur and L
I never realized until recently that Lovecraft admired and tried to emulate a few of this author's horror feel, that his stories are the godfather of the Cthulhu mythos. Strangely enough, the prose is fluid and compelling in a way that Lovecraft couldn't match. Of course, it isn't Lovecraftian prose, but the weight of the mythos that draws so many fans, but it was a pure delight to see spark that lit the fire for generations of horror fans around the world.
Kyell Gold
Feb 10, 2015 rated it liked it
I've heard about this book for twenty-some years now, ever since reading James Blish's short story "More Light" (in the out of print collection "Alchemy and Academe"). Finally I got my hands on it and had a chance to read through the origin of the "King in Yellow" mythos.

The introduction to this volume, by E.F. Bleiler, is worth reading, as it sets the expectations well for what you're about to read. Bleiler is no fan of most of Chambers' work and makes no secret of it (I was surprised to learn
Oct 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
A classic of weird horror, The King in Yellow is a collection of short stories. Well, the first four stories are weird horror classics. Related only by the existence and influence of the play The King in Yellow, the second act of which will inevitably drive mad any who read it, they're a set of nicely atmospheric set. What will really linger in your mind is the concept of the play, which we never get more than brief glimpses of. I'd say this is probably what makes the reputation of the book.

Oct 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
The first four short stories? Fantastic. The third one of four - 'In the Court of the Dragon' - was probably my favorite piece of late-19th century horror fiction, well served and set up by the two stories that came before.

After the four short stories came some very quick ... vignettes? Ultra-short stories? Only a few lines each, but effective and interesting. An example:


The Clown turned his powdered face to the mirror.
"If to be fair is to be beautiful," he said, "who can compare
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of psychological horror; students of the genre
(Read via Project Gutenberg, not this edition.)

Chambers, along with Lovecraft, is one of the grandpappies of the contemporary horror genre, and these are his masterwork: a series of connected short stories and novellas about a mysterious play (also called The King In Yellow) that drives a reader mad. The play itself is never more than vaguely described; the stories are about the effects it has on the minds of those who read it, and their subsequent actions.

This is precisely the type of horror I
Feb 27, 2014 rated it liked it
What a disappointing book. The first four or five stories in the book are very effective horror stories that sort or revolve around a play called "The King in Yellow." To read this, in several of the stories, drives the reader mad. Those stores kind of relate to one another, in tone and in the way the horror works out, and I thought I was in for a real treat. But the stories that comprise the second half of the book don't relate to or mention the King in Yellow or the yellow sign, and are instea ...more
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: no one in particular
Recommended to Still by: HBO
Inspired by the HBO series True Detective I broke down & read this in the last half of October 2014.

It was almost Halloween and I always read H. P. Lovecraft & his spawn when the leaves on the trees start changing colors. Lovecraft was allegedly a Chambers devotee, so ...I felt it incumbent upon me to give it a try.
Made it through "King..." and a couple of others but finally gave it all up.
Also read a few tales by Ambrose Bierce before going back to Lovecraft to wrap up the scary season.

To sum i
Alexander Draganov
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
I liked the stories, connected with the Yellow King very much, as well as those with mystical feel, but the last three were kind of boring to me, so between four stars in the first half of the book and two in the second one my average and final rating is three stars.
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it
My favorite stories were
The Repairer of Reputations
The Yellow Sign
The Mask

Perhaps not a surpise. The first 5 stories were good, but the remaining ones were not for me. Not weird enough, maybe.
Feb 26, 2012 rated it liked it
One of the first things I did with my ereader was to download free, public domain works. _The King in Yellow_ was one of them.

This is a curious collection of stories. In the universe of these stories, there is a two act play, titled _The King in Yellow_ which has been denounced and even banned for its deleterious effect on those who read it. Sometimes a few lines of the play are given. The play is a curious mixture of science fiction and the 19th century Decadent movement.

So in one story, one c
This is a strange little volume. The first half contains four short stories centering around the fictional story of The King in Yellow, which sends anyone who reads it utterly mad. These are striking and original horror stories with a penchant for detail and the grotesque. A man who is reclusive and works as a 'restorer of reputations' keeps a cat who mauls him ferociously and rolls around on the floor his legs curled up towards the ceiling like a dead spider. A newly built park contains a chamb ...more
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
A short take:

I read this nearly a year ago, and yet, flipping through it now and perusing the odd paragraph, many of these stories, along with their eerie plots and weird doings, come back to me and remind me of the great satisfaction I experienced in these pages. I am fascinated by the fact that "King in Yellow" stands out as an odd entry among Chambers' large career of now-forgotten prose. Whatever compelled him to pen these stories, I am so glad that we can enjoy them, today.

Some favorites: "
Feb 15, 2014 rated it liked it
The first few stories of the collection are riveting and eerie; I thoroughly enjoyed the madness, picking this up after hearing about the literary references in True Detective. The fun tapers off and becomes kind of tedious by the end of the book. There were some good surprises and fun, scary narrative. Enjoyed those parts.

I'd give the first half of the book five stars and the second half two. So, three and a half stars total.
Mar 12, 2014 rated it liked it
This book starts out strong with an eerie style reminiscent of Poe and Lovecraft. It remains that way for a while and then proceeds to get not very good. The first few stories were extremely enjoyable, the super short stories in the middle were weird but clever, and the last few stories, while visually enjoyable, were a bit of a task to make it through.
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
On Paths Unknown: KIY first 4 stories - BIG SPOILER thread 33 18 Nov 15, 2015 06:23AM  
On Paths Unknown: KIY Part 4: The Yellow Sign 13 11 Nov 13, 2015 01:08PM  
On Paths Unknown: Part 3: In the Court of the Dragon 22 14 Nov 13, 2015 05:29AM  
On Paths Unknown: Part 2 : The Mask 23 13 Nov 12, 2015 09:07AM  
On Paths Unknown: Part 1: The Repairer of Reputations 54 22 Nov 05, 2015 12:26PM  
On Paths Unknown: Where it all started: The King in Yellow 37 22 Nov 02, 2015 12:42PM  
On Paths Unknown: Part 5 The Demoiselle d'Ys 1 5 Oct 31, 2015 02:34PM  

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Robert William Chambers was an American artist and writer.

Chambers was first educated at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute,and then entered the Art Students' League at around the age of twenty, where the artist Charles Dana Gibson was his fellow student. Chambers studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, and at Académie Julian, in Paris from 1886 to 1893, and his work was displayed at the Salon as ear

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