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The Final Reconciliation

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Thirty years ago, a progressive rock band called The Yellow Kings began recording what would become their first and final album. Titled “The Final Reconciliation,” the album was expected to usher in a new renaissance of heavy metal, but it was shelved following a tragic concert that left all but one dead.

The sole survivor of that horrific incident was the band’s lead guitarist, Aidan Cross, who’s kept silent about the circumstances leading up to that ill-fated performance—until now.

For the first time since the tragedy, Aidan has granted an exclusive interview to finally put rumors to rest and address a question that has haunted the music industry for decades: What happened to The Yellow Kings?

The answer will terrify you.

Inspired by The King in Yellow mythos first established by Robert W. Chambers, and reminiscent of cosmic horror by H. P. Lovecraft, Laird Barron, and John Langan, comes The Final Reconciliation—a chilling tale of regret, the occult, and heavy metal by Todd Keisling.

Kindle Edition

First published February 3, 2017

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About the author

Todd Keisling

49 books310 followers
TODD KEISLING is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of Devil’s Creek. His other works include The Final Reconciliation, Scanlines, and The Monochrome Trilogy, among several shorter works. He lives somewhere in the wilds of Pennsylvania with his family where he is at work on his next novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 77 reviews
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,861 reviews10.5k followers
February 9, 2017
Metal band the Yellow Kings are on their first tour when they meet Camilla Bierce, the woman who will be their downfall...

I was tangentially aware of The King in Yellow for years after playing Call of Cthulhu: Horror Roleplaying and my interest was further piqued by True Detective. When I read the synopsis for this, I was all in.

Told by the lone survivor of the band thirty years in the future, The Final Reconciliation is the tale of the disintegration of a band as they record an album, both personally and mentally as the walls of reality thin and fray. I knew they were fucked when Camilla called Los Angeles Carcosa but the depth of the penetration was still pretty surprising.

As the dreams and visions of red-robed faceless things in an alien golden city become more and more intense, things go so far off track the rails are no longer visible.

The writing feels more like noir than horror, not a bad thing in my book. There's just enough foreshadowing in the narration to make you dread the ending that's barreling toward you. I had an idea about what Camilla's goal was fairly quickly but the ending was still a punch in the sternum.

I've read other mythos stories involving musicians, Bleeding Shadows and Crawlin' Chaos Blues springing to mind, but The Final Reconciliation is the best so far. Five out of five Yellow Signs.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
1,657 reviews2 followers
September 7, 2017

As the synopsis indicates, THE FINAL RECONCILIATION, by Todd Keisling, pays homage to the ideas presented in Robert W. Chamber's "The King in Yellow". Even H.P. Lovecraft wrote in reference to Hastur (sometimes referred to as "The Unspeakable One", or "Him Who Is Not to be Named"), and the city of Carcosa. However, Keisling has simply nailed these concepts in a modern day style and setting, using Rock musicians as his "artists". The entire tale is told in the vein of an interview with the only surviving member of the band, The Yellow Kings.

". . . Out of those 234 people, 233 of them died that night in a variety of gruesome ways . . . I'm the only one who survived."

Aidan Cross is the aging rocker being interviewed by producer, Miles Hargrove, about the band's last night together, and the concert that ended with such carnage. This is the first time in the 30 years since, that Aidan has agreed to speak of the days and events that led up to that fateful night. During this read, I felt completely transported back in time with Aidan and his bandmates, Johnny, Hank, and Bobby, along with their perceptive manager, Reggie.

". . . used to smile like that all the time before his face was torn off . . . "

When they first meet "the gypsy", Camilla Bierce, after a great show, her movements and looks are so "telling", that it comes as no surprise when she leeches onto the lead vocalist, Johnny . . . and stays.

". . . We're all wearing pallid masks."

Keisling is outstanding when it comes to Camilla's character, and the dynamics she inserts within the group. She disrupts their lives with her literal intrusion, and the focus she puts on everybody needing to "take off their masks".

". . . this world is nothing more than a masquerade, and your music will help us all to remove the masks . . . A final reconciliation of this world and ours . . ."

As I read of Aidan's life in the Rock business, and then the subtle changes that he and the others began experiencing, I felt a literal "witness" to the story. Everything they saw and did was incredibly tangible to my senses--no matter what the context. It takes a considerable skill to be able to carry a reader along so effortlessly, even through the more surreal moments, yet Todd Keisling pulled it off, unquestionably.

". . . visions of something we aren't meant to see. Knowledge of something we aren't meant to know . . . "

By the time the band readied for what would be their final concert together at The Hyades, anything seemed plausible--and the shocking conclusion, nearly inevitable.

". . . whatever its purpose, this music was the catalyst."

This was my first read by author Todd Keisling, and I am eager to pick up my next.

Highly recommended!

*I chose to read an ARC of this book. All opinions are uniquely my own.*
Profile Image for Kenneth McKinley.
Author 2 books192 followers
February 7, 2017
So, as a fellow metal-head, I feel a kindred spirit with Todd as he unfurls The Final Reconciliation, a story about a journalist who is interviewing Aidan Cross. Cross is an aging guitarist who is institutionalized for going off his nut over the tragic show his band played 30 years ago. Aidan was the guitarist of the prog-metal band, The Yellow Kings. After hardcore touring in support of their EP, the band lands a two-album deal and head to Los Angeles to record their official first record. After a show in Texas, they pick up a groupie named Camille, who was waiting behind the club for the band. She immediately takes a shine to their lead singer, Johnny. Soon, the band learns that Camille is not your ordinary groupie trying to sponge of the band in hopes that they'll be famous. No, she has a different agenda and the band are simply pawns in her evil plan.

The Final Reconciliation pulls out it's inner Lovecraft and marries it with story about a heavy metal band. Metal bands have been influenced by all things macabre and Lovecraft is a favorite of many, i.e. Metallica. Keisling has done his homework. As someone who knows a thing or two, not much more, but a thing or two about metal bands, touring, and recording, he executes the story flawlessly. This is where so many writers can go astray - writing about something that they don't know enough about and the cracks show. This isn't the case here. Kudos to Keisling. Not only did he get his facts right, but he delivered one hell of a story, in the process.

5 Guitar Solos out of 5

This ARC was provided by Crystal Lake Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

You can also follow my reviews at the following links:



Profile Image for Bill.
1,509 reviews104 followers
March 27, 2017
4 young rock and rollers from Southeastern Kentucky get in a little bit over their heads, when Johnny the lead singer, takes on a new groupie. The beautiful and mysterious Camilla. She immediately asserts her will over Johnny and the band as they prepare for the release of their groundbreaking first album, The Final Reconciliation. Her influence is undeniable and with her help, “The Yellow Kings” first show is going to be a killer. Literally. It may also be the end of world as we know it. Now that’s rock and roll!!

For whatever reason, I couldn’t get Megadeth’s “The Conjuring”, out of my head while listening to this one on audio. (Not a bad thing either, btw.)

“Welcome to our sanguinary sect of worship
Feel at home in our black conventicle
As we anathematize
All of those who oppose us
Don't summon the devil, Don't call the priests
If you need the strength, The conjuring. Obey”

Fits. Maybe a wee bit of Venom in there too. Merciful Fate? Definitely. Those were some crazy fun shows back in the day…from what I can remember, anyway. Long hair, Slayer t-shirt, beer-bonging Yukon Jack and waaay too many chemicals. Gee, I wonder why the late 80’s were such a fog. Good times, man. Good times.

An excellent novella from Todd Keisling and a very well done audiobook from Joe Hemple. The story moved fast. No fluff required. Joe’s narration really gelled with the story and definitely enhanced the experience. Well done all the way around and highly recommended.

*I received a copy of this audiobook from the narrator in exchange for an honest review. This was it.
Profile Image for Matthew.
381 reviews135 followers
February 6, 2017
I've been on a bit of a novella kick the past six months. I've consumed titles by authors such as Laird Barron and Stephen Graham Jones, and for the most part loved every single one of them. So I was delighted to see author Todd Keisling continue this trend of excellence with The Final Reconciliation, a creepy and enthralling take on Chambers' Yellow King mythos.

Told in an interview narrative, The Final Reconciliation tells the story of the Yellow Kings, a progressive metal band whose members, along with a couple of hundred other people, were horrifically killed at a private performance of their first and only album. The lone survivor, band member and guitarist Aidan Cross, recounts in this interview the terrifying events that led up to that fateful night.

I loved this novella. I loved it so much that I actually went back and read it all over again after finishing. The Final Reconciliation is a wonderful example of a story that builds slowly yet surely and culminates in an ending that will blow your skill sideways. The pacing is superb, and Keisling slowly draws you in deeper and deeper until you realise that it's too late to escape. The characterisation is on point, with the depictions of band members and the dynamics of the music industry authentic and fascinating. I genuinely felt like I was watching a biopic of the Yellow Kings as I read, and that they were a real band whose demise was a great mystery wrapped up with conspiracy theories (like the death of Tupac, or Elvis). The inclusion of Camilla, a gypsy and groupie who drives wedges between the band members (like a modern day Yoko Ono or Courtney Love) was also brilliant, and I was terrified watching her manipulate the band members into performing a concert that would open a celestial gate and allow her entry into Carcosa.

Speaking of Carcosa, I adored how Keisling weaved Hastur and the Yellow King mythos into this story. A creation of author Robert W. Chambers, the Yellow King has seen a resurgence in recents years (True Detective touched on a lot of this mythos in its first season) after living in the dark shadow of Lovecraft's Cthulhu for so long. And thank fuck it has, because Hastur is arguably more terrifying and confronting than Cthulhu. The imagery and horror that Keisling throws down before you in this novella will blow you away. There's plenty of sex, buckets of blood, and loads of unearthly tunes that transcend reality and take you to another place. Carcosa itself is terrifying, and Hastur and his minions will stay at the forefront of your mind long after finishing this story. The final performance of the Yellow Kings, where they unleash all of this hell, is both stunning and jaw dropping. In fact, Keisling does an amazing job conveying the idea that music transforms you and takes you on journeys both physical and spiritual. In the case of the Yellow Kings, this isn't always a good thing.

The Final Reconciliation is a brilliant tale told with a wonderful voice. Keisling has nailed it, and I personally can't wait to read more from him. If you like music (especially metal or rock) and mythos fiction, then you'll love this story.

4.5 stars out of 5.
Profile Image for Frank Errington.
738 reviews56 followers
February 6, 2017
Review copy

First, some background on The King in Yellow. Prior to season one of HBO's True Detective series, few people ever heard of Robert W. Chambers or his book of short stories by the same name. According to Wikipedia the book is named after a play with the same title. The first half of the book features highly esteemed weird stories, and has been described by critics as a classic in the field of the supernatural. There are ten stories, the first four of which mention The King in Yellow, a forbidden play which induces despair or madness in those who read it.

In The Final Reconciliation, Todd Keisling introduces readers to the fictional heavy metal band The Yellow Kings. It's been years since that fateful final performance at a small L.A. nightclub. Miles Hargrove and his producer are interviewing Aidan Cross, looking for the true story of their one and only performance of The Final Reconciliation.

The band was just starting to make a name for themselves when in walks a gypsy woman calling herself Camilla Bierce. She showed up shortly after the band had released an EP and were embarking on a cross-country tour. "We blew the doors off every place we played. Every night we took a bow together on stage, every night we piled back into the van, and every night Carmilla came along for the ride."

Keisling proves himself to be a master storyteller weaving a believable tale of an up-and-coming band with Chambers' mystique from The King in Yellow. When speaking of the time the band spent recording in L.A., "...we never really left that dim Carcosa. That's what Carmilla called it, you see. She never said 'Los Angeles' or 'LA' It was always Carcosa to her."

That should be enough to whet your appetite for this first-rate novella. Even the ending of The Final Reconciliation is about as good as it gets, and as a result this book receives my highest recommendation.

Now available for the Kindle from Crystal Lake Publishing. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge. Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - Todd Keisling is a writer of horror and speculative fiction, as well as the author of the novels A Life Transparent and The Liminal Man (a 2013 Indie Book Award Finalist), and the forthcoming collection Ugly Little Things. Born in Kentucky, he now lives with his wife and son somewhere near Reading, Pennsylvania.
Profile Image for Jen.
597 reviews253 followers
February 6, 2017
I was nervous going into The Final Reconciliation because I had Robert McCammon on the brain. How can I think of a horror story that revolves around music without thinking of McCammon's The Five? I feel bad for any book that has to live up to McCammon, but The Final Reconciliation had no trouble at all! Where McCammon's The Five was about feeling the emotion of music, The Final Reconciliation was about feeling the music itself. (That and some kick ass horror.)

I'm a metal head and I fancy myself a musician so I was absolutely the perfect audience for The Final Reconciliation, but I think that's all just icing to a really great story.

The Final Reconciliation was inspired by The King in Yellow mythos. I have to admit to never having read The King in Yellow. I actually tried to get into it last week, but I was just coming off The Great God Pan and was burned out on classic horror. It would have been cool to have a better reference point for The Yellow King, Carcosa, etc., but it wasn't necessary. I think if you've read The King in Yellow, you will dig the connection.

The Final Reconciliation is a novella so I'm hesitant to say much other than the fact that I really enjoyed it. I'd rather leave you to discover what happened to The Yellow Kings for yourself.

My year has started out unusually strong, but I think it's a safe bet to say The Final Reconciliation will be one of my favorites of the year. I highly recommend it especially if you love music and horror.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Dave.
489 reviews14 followers
July 31, 2021
Keisling delivers a horrific novella which is equal parts Lovecraft meeting The Omen channeling Clive Barker. The cost a band pays by dealing with powers beyond their control. I would have liked to have seen the story fleshed out a bit more, but as a novella it is quick and to the point and strikes hard as we get the first hand account from the guitarist of the band, Aidan Cross, as he relates the story of his band The Yellow Kings and what happens when they come across a groupie with ever changing eye colors.
Profile Image for Ronald.
204 reviews37 followers
January 13, 2021
In the late 19th Century, American author Robert W. Chambers wrote a couple of horror stories that have been influential on fantasy, horror, and on a TV crime show (the first--and best--season of True Detective). In the universe of those stories by Chambers, there is a two-act play, titled The King in Yellow, which leads to madness and/or death to those who read it or see it performed.

Like the late Joe Pulver, author Todd Keisling eschews rote imitation of Chambers and does creative things with the original materials--Camilla, Carcosa, pallid masks, black stars, The King in Yellow. Here, the story is about progressive metal band The Yellow Kings, their growth and supernatural catastrophe. This novella, like The King in Yellow stories by Chambers, has a female character that plays a major role, and who is in a romantic relationship with another character in the story. You don't see that sort of thing in Lovecraft's fiction.

Metal music is not my genre, nevertheless I had fun reading about this fictional band's history. This novella has a twist ending. The story is, for me, closer to 4 stars than 3.

P.S. In case you're wondering, my goodreads profile photo is The Yellow Sign.
Profile Image for Darrell.
384 reviews7 followers
February 4, 2017
This book has been called Lovecraftian, but I think that's mostly because any book that's described as Lovecraftian automatically sells a bunch of copies. (Note to self: Describe next book as Lovecraftian.) Robert W. Chambers' King in Yellow mythos, which this book is actually based on, is less well known, but I've got to say, it's refreshing to come across a horror novel that isn't Lovecraftian for once. This book stands on its own, so you don't need to have read The King in Yellow first, but if you have, you'll pick up on some cool references.

The story takes the form of an interview with Aidan Cross, lead guitarist of a heavy metal band called The Yellow Kings. He's the sole survivor of a tragic concert that claimed the lives of everyone present excluding himself. The trouble all started while the band was on tour and they picked up the groupie from hell (perhaps literally). Keisling must be about the same age as me since most of the bands he name checks are ones I grew up listening to.

Keisling does a great job of building tension. As each chapter progresses, I felt a mounting sense of doom leading up to the explosive finale, which I'd say surpasses Chambers on the creepiness scale. "Take off your mask" indeed.

As an aside, I couldn't help wonder when this story takes place. Since many of the bands mentioned in the extended flashback are fairly recent, that would mean the frame story of Aiden giving the interview thirty years later actually takes place in the future. I'd estimate around 2030 or so. They don't call it a holointerview or anything like that, so Keisling must be imagining a future in which technology hasn't advanced all that much. Or maybe the technological advances are just all off screen.

My lease favorite part of the book is the end of the frame story once we've jumped back thirty years after the concert incident. It's a stereotypical horror ending that we would have been fine without, but overall, I'd say this book is highly recommended.
Profile Image for 11811 (Eleven).
662 reviews136 followers
March 4, 2017
Heavy metal and esoteric horror. A splendid marriage sanctified in an abyss.
Profile Image for Shane Hawk.
Author 10 books117 followers
June 28, 2021
Keisling's novella here was rad. I read it with the HOWL Society book club, though, I was busy during discussion days and by the time everyone had chimed in already, I had nothing unique to add. So it goes.

I also want to thank Keisling for being a cool cat and agreeing to come into the HOWLS server for a Q&A session immediately after the club completed the book. Lots of opinions flew through the air, good and bad, but I thought this was a solid novella. He wrote it five years ago, and I can only imagine he has honed his craft even more since then. Kudos to Todd. *headbangs out of room*
Profile Image for Noelle Kelly.
186 reviews8 followers
February 5, 2017
The Final Reconciliation is a hard metal symphony of terror.

Written in an album format, The Final Reconciliation is a tale of the occult, a gypsy who is more than she seems and a hard metal band trying to make the big time. When The Yellow Kings have the performance of their lives, there is only one survivor.

I was delighted to receive an ARC of The Final Reconciliation from Crystal Lake Publishing (link to the Crystal Lake website). This is the third book I've read from Crystal Lake Publishing, including Gutted Beautiful Horror Stories. Gutted was the most memorable, brutal and beautiful collection of stories from last year.

The pace and length of this novella were perfect for this tale, narrated 30 years after the tragic concert by a journalist interviewing aging rock star Aidan Cross. The Yellow Kings are struggling to make their dreams come true when Camilla, a seductive gypsy character appears on the scene. Her introduction to them is the start of their nightmarish fate.

Friendship is key to the story and I loved the changing dynamics of the group. I loved the gory detail in the scenes where the band are pouring their souls into their final album. There is dark beautiful imagery during the visions of Carcosa. The final scenes were disturbing, yet mesmerizing. The album reaches its' crescendo with a horrifying climax. The Final Reconciliation is a horrifying tale, which will appeal to lovers of heavy metal and horror alike.
Profile Image for Michael J..
647 reviews16 followers
February 3, 2017
Author Todd Keisling has created a horrific composition in THE FINAL RECONCILATION, combining heavy metal music and horror mythos for a compelling configuration of a novella. It’s a quick-paced and captivating read that craftily builds tension right up to the final bloodbath.

A progressive metal band from Southeastern Kentucky parlays a successful EP release into a two-record contract with a major music label. Outside forces, in the guise of an entrancing ethereal groupie, exert a subliminal influence on the creation of their first (and final) album. Their new music has the ability to effect a trance-like state among both performers and audience, and opens a doorway into an otherworldly realm. These events are foreshadowed early in the novella, and will come as no surprise to readers. Still, the final resolution is even more intense for readers due to the power of the narrative and the suggestions that have been introduced along the way.

Keisling was inspired by The King In Yellow, an 1895 story collection by Robert W Chambers that also influenced the writing of H. P. Lovecraft. He pulls elements and themes from Chambers’ work, especially The Yellow Sign short story, and weaves them into THE FINAL RECONCILIATION.

Keisling’s primary characters, the four members of the rock band The Yellow Kings, are convincing and realistic. In a Q & A video on You Tube, Keisling reveals that he is not a musician and does not have a background in rock music, aside from being a listener and fan. Yet, his characters are fully realized. Knowledgable music fans and readers will easily empathize with them, especially lead guitarist Aiden Cross, who serves as narrator of the story.

The descriptions of the Hyades music club, and the strange city of Carcoas, as well as its inhabitants and the acolytes of Hastur are visualized in good detail. Keisling also manages to include the scenes of sexuality and bloody, brutal violence through suggestion and summary rather than elaborate graphic descriptions. Yet, they will still remain vivid in the readers’ minds due to his narrative skills.

It’s an impressive story, and is scheduled to be included in a forthcoming anthology from Crystal Lake Publishing.

DISCLOSURE: A digital copy of this novella was provided by the publisher, with the hope of an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Chad.
Author 76 books625 followers
May 4, 2017
This is my first read from Keisling. It definitely won’t be my last. He writes well and easy and doesn’t convolute his work with prose he thinks may impress, much like Koontz. The topic within the pages culls from ideas born in the late 1800s by Robert W. Chambers. Ashamedly, I was unfamiliar with Chambers’ King in Yellow mythos until Keisling breathed his own life into it with The Final Reconciliation--a modernized, rock & roll take on a dangerous and haunting idea. The book reeks of Lovecraftian doom, which makes sense considering Lovecraft reeked of Chambers’ work, in particular with The King in Yellow.

The listing’s own summary pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the book so I won’t rehash that here. I will, however, tell you that fans of all things heavy metal, Lovecraft, and horror will feel very at home within these pages.

While some may see the end coming from only one third of the way through, it doesn’t matter because of the way the book is built. It presents itself in a way that teases you here and there about the ending, and though you may have come up with your own conclusion, you’re still enjoying the ride. By the time the end starts to unfold and show its ugly face all knobs are turned to eleven and you’re in it for the long haul.

The Final Reconciliation scratches a multitude of itches, some of which you may not know you had. Oddly enough, the book made me miss my days of writing and recording with my bands and gave me a newfound appreciation for Paul, George, and Ringo.
Profile Image for Matthew Rogers.
Author 2 books19 followers
January 30, 2017
Taken from: https://thewriterfromthenorth.wordpre...

So, it's been awhile, but hello fellow reader nerds! I am back with a review of The Final Reconciliation written by Todd Keisling, as I asked for an ARC copy in trade for a review.

I'll give you the skinny before I jump right in. It'll probably be short though, but this review will be full of love (and maybe spoilers? Just read at your own risk).

So, as taken from Goodreads:


Thirty years ago, a progressive rock band called The Yellow Kings began recording what would become their first and final album. Titled “The Final Reconciliation,” the album was expected to usher in a new renaissance of heavy metal, but it was shelved following a tragic concert that left all but one dead.

The sole survivor of that horrific incident was the band’s lead guitarist, Aidan Cross, who’s kept silent about the circumstances leading up to that ill-fated performance—until now.

For the first time since the tragedy, Aidan has granted an exclusive interview to finally put rumors to rest and address a question that has haunted the music industry for decades: What happened to The Yellow Kings?

The answer will terrify you.

Inspired by The King in Yellow mythos first established by Robert W. Chambers, and reminiscent of cosmic horror by H. P. Lovecraft, Laird Barron, and John Langan, comes The Final Reconciliation—a chilling tale of regret, the occult, and heavy metal by Todd Keisling.

And with that, here's what I have to say...

I really loved this novella. Being a writer myself, I find that I have my area which I tend to stick to the most, which is Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but Horror is an area that I admire. To take humanity and to turn it inside out, to subject our fragile minds to the unknown-from what may be in our own backyard to the great cosmic-it's a great experiment we run over and over again through this genre.

Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, and in this case, like all those who happen to stumble across those from Carcosa, the latter comes to be, because the world is not always full of happy endings.

Now I'm not really gonna dive deep into the story and expose it bit by bit, since you dear reader should, you know, actually read it, but I just want to talk about what I liked from this story.

You see, in most recent years, stories that usually involve The King in Yellow, or the creatures from H. P. Lovecraft, have been noticeable for quite some time. Shows like True Detective, while great, helped bring these ideas back to the forefront and has allowed more exposure to these great stories. Problem is, like any genre really, it can get stale.

So, as any writer knows, even if the area gets stale (and I use that word loosely), just write in it anyway cause who cares? Each person has a unique voice, and no two writers would write the same story if they thought of the same premise. As while all stories may have already been written, it's what the individual brings to the table, to the story, to the mythos, that would set them a part from everyone else.

This is what Todd does. I say this in full honesty.

See, to me, it's hard to write about music. Music is an audio experience, so it can be tough to put the sounds, the feelings, into words. But through Aidan, we get a good full account about the love for the music, the feel of it, how it affected him before it was corrupted by a particular individual, and as he went along to record the album. If they were left on their own, the group could have probably made it and became legends, you can see it in the words that Todd uses. He is able to take his love of the music and express it in this tale, but he then starts to twist it, transforming it as the real court of Carcosa begin to seep in.

That's the other element Todd plays well: The influence of The King in Yellow mythos is obviously known from the synopsis, but he doesn't just beat you over the head with it. He instead leads you into the influence like Aidan and his band-mates were, slowly, with time. Each moment he pulls back the veil is a peak into the world that lays beyond our own, and by the time it comes to that final performance, you too are just waiting to see what happened, and it's a sad night for everyone involved, well, almost everyone.

That's the best part of this entire story, you get a entry into the mythos that doesn't feel hashed out, but thought of carefully, expressed with the right emotions and phrases at the right time. Add in the music that Todd obviously loves, and they blend together to give you a sad tale of these guys who just wanted to express themselves, but end up doing far worse because someone happened to look upon them and see that they would be useful for something else.

I only have one tiny little gripe. For me, this felt too short.

I know, I said this story is a novella, so it's longer than a short story. It's probably because I was able to just run right through it without much as a pause to be honest. But at the same time, it goes to show how of a good read this is, well at least to me. There was no stopping for me unless I had to put it down, I was that entranced by it.

So, I highly recommend this tale. Todd's skills are at their best here, and I cannot wait to see what comes next.

Just remember, whatever you do, don't take off your mask.

See you guys around.
Profile Image for JL Shioshita.
249 reviews2 followers
May 3, 2018
It's like reading a Rolling Stone interview...but filtered through Chambers and Lovecraft. What's not to like. I just wish it was longer.
Profile Image for Morgan Tanner.
Author 12 books33 followers
June 3, 2017
Now I don't want to sound all fan-boy straight off the bat, but OMG OMG he just sooo understands me, it's like Todd has written this book just for me, ooh I'm in love!!!

OK, so my love for the book isn't that demented or stalkerish, but the ingredients here are pretty much exactly what floats my boat. Lovecraftian madness-inducing horror told through the story of a metal band. And they're definitely metal and not just rock, the drummer plays double-kick!

Keisling obviously knows his genre (music one, that is). I lost count of how many times I threw the metal horns whilst reading. The references to Slayer, Opeth, Mastodon, Tool, Al Jorgensen; yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes!!

But it's not just the musical references that kept me reading, the story is just fantastic. There's definitely enough there for the non-metal-loving horror junkie to get their ravaging teeth into.

The tale is told by Aidan Cross, the last surviving member of The Yellow Kings (RIP – literally). Things were going well for the band, they were making a name for themselves in the live circuit, their EP was well received, it seemed like the world was theirs for the taking. That was, until they met Camilla.

She meets the band after a show in Texas and takes an instant liking to singer, Johnny. The band don't take her too seriously at first, seeing her as just another groupie gypsy-type, but soon she's right there on the tour bus, headed to the next show.

People may say she's the most disruptive female to interfere with a band since Yoko Ono, but think more Jeanine from Spinal Tap, with the ideas for the stage show and band policies, etc. (It's your fucking wife!)

To be fair, the rest of the band have a go on her, too, including Aidan, albeit sort of against his will, but it's Johnny she really has eyes for.

Aidan recounts strange dreams where faceless beasts haunt his mind, seemingly implanted there by this groupie-bitch. I won't divulge what he sees, it would spoil the magic of reading them for yourself. But it seems that something very strange is down with this woman. And indeed it is.

The story is being related to a journalist and the fact that the terrible event that ended this bands careers and most of their lives is already known to the reader, makes the fear for the eventual outcome that much more terrifying. It's classic Lovecraft in this respect, a troubled soul reliving an awful atrocity that shook their world and caused them to live in emotional agony for the rest of their life.

The book foreshadows the last show the band play, a set of their, as yet unreleased new album. Johnny has written the music, with more than a little influence from his new girl. When the band begin to practice the songs things seem great. The new stuff is killer, better than they could imagine. But Johnny, complete with his strange and poetic lyrics, prevents them from playing too much of it at once in the studio. It appears that to play the whole thing in its entirety needs to be saved for that show.

The infamous final show is organised by Camilla who chooses the venue and designs the stage set and band costumes (red robes and white masks, not quite the astrological costumes put forward by Jeanine to 'Tap). A large number of fans and journalists are invited along and are all given a strange mask to wear.

Obviously I'm not going to give specifics about the ending, but you already know that it's all leading up the band's final and terminal show and that it's not going to end well. But really how bad is it? Well, pretty fucking brutal!

So there you have it, read it. If you like metal or horror you will love it, if you like both, well you're in luck!
Profile Image for Robin Lee.
99 reviews
February 9, 2017
“This world is nothing more than a masquerade”


I found this story to be a brilliant, original, modern-day take on “The King in Yellow” mythos. Especially, for those that are into heavy, metal rock bands. The writing was perfect and the setup for the story was excellent. It’s a story told within an interview and the chapters are tracks off the LP. (They actually sound like song titles). I thought I had one of those special, lanyards with backstage privileges that gave me a very exciting, but terrifying glimpse into this rock and roll world Keisling creates. Plus, once the first track is over the intensity increases and kept me riveted to the pages. His characters are relatable and believable, even when the mystique or the occult enters the rhythm. By now I wanted to know the truth behind the myth of the Legendary Metal Band, “The Yellow Kings”. Plus, how surviving member Aidan Cross’s face became a mass of thick, ugly scars. Their concept album is complete, the stage is set for the show and a shocking, double twisted ending, that left me speechless.

Then I thought what If ?

Track 2- The Gypsy on Darkened Shores, begins the story of four young men in their 20’s getting to live out their dream. They are on a cross-country tour, playing in small venues and supporting their first released EP, “Jesters in Our Court”. One night when their show is over outside the venue they will meet Camilla Bierce. Before you know it this self-proclaimed gypsy woman, will have them spellbound, especially Johnny, the band's leader and lyricist. Now their manager is also ready with good news, that they are to meet in L.A. to sign a deal for a two-record contract. Three of them will return to their hometown for a break before they begin recording a new album. Johnny stays behind with Camilla. When they all return to L. A. Johnny is a changed man. By the time, they are up to recording Track 5-Season of The Leech, the banding is bleeding for their art. So, exhausted, yet caught up in this curse that has been placed upon them, they must to carry out “The Final Reconciliation”

For it’s time to see who the true “King” is and if they will all be driven mad.

Reviewed by www.robinleesdarkside.com
Profile Image for Matt.
245 reviews9 followers
June 25, 2021
The Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling is a fun novella combining the cosmic horror of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow mythos with the story of a metal band. The book is reminiscent of both Elizabeth Hand’s Wylding Hall (2015) and Grady Hendrix’s We Sold Our Souls (2018). This book is an entertaining read. The plot is not that hard anticipate, but I nevertheless had a blast listening to the audiobook version. The combination of the narrator (Joe Hempel) and Keisling’s prose made this a hard story to put down. I read this book as a @howl_society book club selection, and we began the week reading some of Chambers’ short stories from The Kong in Yellow collection. I would highly recommend familiarity with Chambers before reading The Final Reconciliation (just as I would recommend familiarity with Lovecraft before reading The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle) in order to enjoy the story with the background and context necessary to understand some of the references and allusions Keisling has made to Chambers. I think having that background elevated the experience from vague cosmic horror to a highly specific story expanding upon earlier work. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there is only ONE significant female character in the book. Additionally, the book very casually uses a term now frequently understood as a slur against the Romani people. The author has said he was not aware of this word’s pejorative meaning when writing the book. All that said, I still had fun listening to this one and plan to read more Todd Keisling in the future. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Profile Image for Chris Mccormick.
19 reviews1 follower
January 7, 2021
This is Todd’s take on the King in Yellow Mythos by Robert W. Chambers. I’ve never read Chambers, but I know enough of the Mythos. Todd totally melted my face with this story.


Here we have Aidan lead guitarist of The Yellow Kings a Heavy Metal Prog Slug Group from South Eastern Kentucky (my home state) recounting the events of the last live show of The Yellow Kings. It’s been 30 years since that fatale night and Aidan is the soul survivor of that ghastly night.

He recounts the early days of the group and the first tour and the gypsy they picked up along the way. The Record deal and everything leading up to that night.

Todd really captures you in this book, you want to keep reading. The pace is great and the story is full of detail and wonder. If you’re a metal fan you can hear a little of the music they made. I can defiantly see this as a movie. Kevin Beacon playing the aged Aidan recounting his life. This read is well worth your time and by the end you’ll have arrived at the gates of Carcosa, and you’ll have taken your Mask off to Hastur. Do you know the Yellow Sign?
Profile Image for Tere Fredericks.
1,353 reviews10 followers
February 4, 2017
The Build-up is Amazing

The story as told by the protagonist, Aidan, has you wondering why he wasn't the lyricist. Excellent background, and of course the fore shadowing is in the title.

Little by little, we are led to The Final Reconciliation, which gives the reader the urge to either scream or read more rapidly. As beloved was sleeping soundly next to me (how can he DO that when I am holding my breath to the point of taking deep gulping breaths when I could no longer hold it) I chose more rapidly, greedily sucking in the story until The Final Reconciliation.

Excellent read. Completely pulls you in from the beginning. Absolutely no dead spots, complete drawing to the inescapable conclusion, which was absolutely not what I expected. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Profile Image for Kenneth Cain.
Author 85 books202 followers
June 4, 2017
I was anxious to get to this one as the premise sounded interesting. I’d also heard good things about it, so I dug into the audiobook version and was pleasantly surprised. Keisling paints the lifestyle of a band with accuracy, detailing the behind the scenes workings in a believable way. And I love the twist that ties lore to a modern day legendary band. Also, caught the fun reference to Joe R. Pulver, Sr. Good stuff. Great job. I look forward to more.
Profile Image for Paul Ataua.
1,245 reviews119 followers
May 19, 2020
Aging guitarist Aidan Cross is interviewed about his Metal band, ‘The Yellow Kings’, whose meteoric rise to stardom some thirty years earlier, being somehow brought about by the enigmatic and controlling Camilla, was cut short by a disastrous show that left the other band members dead and him in a mental institution. All was not, and maybe still isn’t, what it seems. Short and entertaining read that doesn’t disappoint.
Profile Image for Scarlett Algee.
Author 26 books9 followers
February 4, 2017
So it's February, and I can already tell that THE FINAL RECONCILIATION will be on my "year's best books" list. Aidan Cross, former guitarist for The Yellow Kings, recounts the tale of his band's humble beginnings, their shot at fame, and the horrific damage done by the recording of one unreleased album--and the presence of one woman who's not at all what she seems.

That's just a tiny summary of the plot, because I'm not sure I can do it justice. The idea of using a metal band as the focal characters for a homage to Chambers' "The King in Yellow" seemed a little far-fetched to me at first, but I've always had a soft spot for dim Carcosa, and oh, Todd Kiesling does not disappoint.

From the moment Camilla enters the story, you know something's "off" about her, and the way she immediately dominates lead singer Johnny is just the first taste of the horror to come. Johnny's too besotted to realize just what dark force Camilla is allied to, but his bandmates aren't, and Aidan's recounting of their nightmarish hallucinatory experiences in her thrall is just mesmerizing. ("Your eyes are bleeding" is one of the most terrifying sentences ever.)

From Camilla's entrance to the band's first (and final, and beautifully horrifying) performance ("TAKE OFF YOUR MASK!"), the story's just a roller coaster ride straight to hell. If you're familiar with the Chambers story, that only intensifies the intense dread and despair that suffuse the writing, because, like Aidan, you know what's coming--*who's* coming--and you know nothing will stop it.

The pacing is terrific--I read this in one sitting and could not put it down--but the pacing takes a backseat to the writing itself. The imagery is evocative; you *know* Carcosa, the scent of it, the two-moon sky, the wretched inhabitants, and the prose is almost poetically lyrical in its depictions of the most graphic brutalities. It reads a bit like a fever dream...if you can even sleep after you finish!

I can't recommend this book highly enough. If everything Crystal Lake releases is of this quality, they're a publishing force to be reckoned with.
Profile Image for Eddie Generous.
623 reviews74 followers
February 6, 2017
Unnerving Magazine Review
Though I’m not much of a rock fan and to me most metal sounds like enraged infants clanging on pots and pans, I enjoyed this story about a metal band bridging worlds and destinies. It was easy to follow and easy to slip into. It is a cosmic, or perhaps eternal, Lovecraftian horror told in the style of Interview with the Vampire, 30 years after tragedy struck a rocker and his band.
The story is told in the glare of hindsight, the if-I-only-acted-differently notion appears, and often. It's a point of reeling and set-up for later, though at times it pushed the point beyond need. However that is a single blip, this novella is quick and by two-thirds of the way through, none of view from hindsight really matters and the pace really creeps forward as the band readies for a final show.
The finale was definitely the story’s strongest portion. It’s loud, gruesome, bloody, and supernatural, much fun to be had from this one, fan or no fan of rock music. The post climax kick was an extra slice of horror.
Bonus points for Vincent (Vinz, perhaps?) Clortho, even if it was coincidence.
Profile Image for Hail Hydra! ~Dave Anderson~.
166 reviews48 followers
November 9, 2020
“Did you not understand why we came to you today? The record company hired us to interview you for the 30th anniversary of the recording.

The album . . . ” Miles Hargrove’s throat clicked when he swallowed. “The album’s being released for the first time later this year.”

Aidan sank back in his chair. The air slipped out of the room, and for the longest of seconds, still silence took its place.

A moment later, the screaming started.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
18 reviews1 follower
February 1, 2017
I'm a sucker for mash-ups of magic and music.
This book delivers on that premise beautifully, and horrifically.
Mixing heavy metal and Robert Chambers "The King in Yellow" mythology is a brilliant idea, and Keisling handles it quite well.
If you're a horror fan, this is a novella well worth your time.
Profile Image for Paul Bennett.
10 reviews
February 4, 2017
I'm not a professional reviewer, I'm somewhat of a wannabe writer and a sometimes prolific poet. Therefore SPOILERS may be present, though I'll try to steer clear of them. Also I tend to be long-winded, and I apologize for that up front.

I don't fancy myself a horror reader. I've lived far too terrifying of a life to enjoy being scared in books which I find to be the best form of escape from the terrors of day to day life to be drawn to the genre. That being said, when this book was recommended to me I was somewhat intrigued to say the least. I've been a fan of heavy metal for over two decades and like many non-horror people tasted my first Robert Chambers/The King in Yellow when it was heavily featured in True Detective season 1. I popped open The Final Reconciliation just after dinner in mid-January and read through the liner notes and was immediately hooked. If you've done some research on Chambers and his influences and those he went on to influence you'll see some familiar words and names in that first page. I'm a sucker for adding history and homage to a book especially when that history has been used in the creation of a modern day mythos, and Chambers works is part of the foundation of the castle that is modern day speculative fiction.
Another caveat, or perhaps a reason for you to judge me. I hate novellas. I can abide short stories as they serve there place. But for me speculative fiction novellas are an authors way of fulfilling part of their contract with a publisher without doing the work that needs to be done in world creation and proper story telling. I know I'm a snob where this is concerned but I've tried to slog through novellas from best selling Fantasy/SF writers and almost without fail they've largely been underwhelming character studies that do little to further any plot device or portray any emotional connection with said character because they just don't have the space to do so.

I give you those two peeks at me as a reader so you can better understand where I am coming from when I tell you that you MUST read this book. I can think of less than 10 books that I would consider must read books in the speculative fiction genres (sidenote - I spent 6 years as a librarian and consider myself an avid and voracious reader), this book sits firmly in the top half of those 10 books. Two of the books in the top half have an average of 4.5 stars on this site with 26K reviews and 17K reviews respectively. So the Final Reconciliation is in fine company as far as I'm concerned.

Let's move on to the details
The concept is relatively straightforward and suits a novella in that the contents of the story are portrayed via an interview with an aging member of the band The Yellow Kings. The entire journey that we're taken on is that of an observer as he weaves a tale of compelling dread that feels as if we're hearing it rather than reading it. The pacing of the story is right at that spot where it's pushing you to get to the end of the page so you can see what's next but doesn't quite qualify as frenetic. All of this made me feel quite at ease with the size of the book and allows the story to take shape organically and touch on all the elements that you'd need. By the end the book feels much longer, in that it is complete, but I didn't feel like I ever had to convince myself to keep reading because of some lag in the storytelling or writing.

As for the writing. The writing is splendid. Not technical, not boring, Todd gives enough dialog to keep my entertained and there are definite "voices" in some of his character in how he writes their dialog and their descriptions. It's really a pleasure to read something that is written so well that I can't complain about the actual writing. Normally for me this is where the miscues stack up and as a reader you see flaws in how flat certain characters seem or they all "sound" the same. That's just not the case here which is surprising that Todd was able to effortlessly do this in such a short period of story telling.

I'll wrap up with what really pulled me in and held my attention. Whether he meant to or not, the story is a set piece of homage after homage after homage. Whether it's musical homage or literary homage or even rock interview homage it's all here. But none of them are contrived, he's created a world where it's new and fun and frightening, but out of the corner of your eye you can see where that world takes its cues from. I'll be going back for a re-read to see how many more tiny pieces of homage are present but that's because I'm a weirdo like that.

In conclusion, the story itself tells a tale of a rock/metal band on the upswing that gets derailed like many do by the presence of a woman. But it's not just any woman, and not just the usual breaking points. As the story progresses more and more is revealed and the veil that Todd uses to separate his two worlds opens a bit more and a bit more. It gives the reader that kind of itchy sensation on the back of your neck, like there's almost a hand touching you but when you turn around it's not there. Then with his closing Todd deftly buttons everything up and pays homage in the most appropriate way. If you know what the line "Stranger: I wear no mask." portends then you know what comes next. If not hopefully you'll take the time to find out. Simply put I didn't put the book down until I was done reading it, and when I finished it I was amazed at how much I liked it and how good the book really was. It's a joy to find a book that I can say is a MUST read, and The Final Reconciliation is a MUST read and a joy to read as well.

*I was not paid or compensated for my review in any way. The opinions stated in the review are mine and mine alone. As all reviews are subjective pieces of personal opinion take this with a grain of salt though I've done my best to explain why I came to the conclusions that I did.*
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