The King in Yellow is a collection of short stories that resurfaced to popularity recently due to the HBO series True Detective. I know this is what piqued my interest in purchasing and devouring the book in just a few short days. The stories have inspired the writings of later writers, including Lovecraft and Stephen King. You can still find writers contributing to the mythology of The King in Yellow.
Firstly, who is the King in Yellow? It refers to a fictional play that Chambers uses in most of his stories. The play is said to drive those who read it mad. The play is central to most of Chamber’s short stories. It features a fictional place called Carcosa, which can be found referenced throughout popular fiction, including True Detective.
Of the stories in the book, my favorite is the first– The Repairer of Reputations. It is told from the point of view of Hildred, a young man who has an accident and suffers from a severe personality change. I enjoy stories told from a point of view of an unreliable character. Hildred believes himself and his new friend Mr. Wilde to be part of a vast conspiracy. Hildred’s friend Louis believes Hildred to still be insane, and humors him for a while. Once the reader begins to realize that Hildred is delusional, other parts of the story told by Hildred become questionable.
I also really enjoyed The Mask, The Yellow Sign, and Demoiselle d’Ys. If you’re a fan of weird fiction from Lovecraft, or Poe, I would recommend reading Chambers. I found this a great starting point before diving into Lovecraft’s complete collection of stories.