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The King in Yellow (AmazonClassics Edition)

Narrated by: Peter Noble
Length: 8 hrs and 54 mins

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What is the terrible secret at the heart of The King in Yellow? The forbidden play’s second act is said to drive all those who read it mad. And the sinister text casts its shadow of dread over Robert W. Chambers’s collection of weird, supernatural stories of the same name.

Threaded with elements of fantasy, science fiction, the supernatural, and gothic horror, this cult classic continues to inspire the imagination of artists - from H. P. Lovecraft to the writers of HBO’s True Detective - and delight connoisseurs of the macabre.

Revised edition: Previously published as The King in Yellow, this edition of The King in Yellow (AmazonClassics Edition) includes editorial revisions.

Public Domain (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

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  • Julie W. Capell
  • 05-01-20

First four stories worth a listen

I'm not much of a horror reader (or viewer) so when I say I enjoyed this book quite a bit please keep that in mind. I don't like gore or super scary, Freddy Krueger stuff. Or anything with dolls. Or clowns. I really hate anything that relies on the exploitation of women or children to frighten.

I do like when an author plays with my own expectations, emotions and fears, and Chambers is a master at that. In the stories in the beginning of this book, he specializes in the near-universal fear of losing one's mind. Each of the first four stories feature someone who is falling into madness in a unique way. By telling the stories from the point of view of the protagonist, who of course believes himself to be in complete control of his faculties, the author walks the reader down the path toward madness in a series of steps that feel extremely logical if increasingly strange. The feeling of utter wrongness builds and builds, and I found myself drawn in even knowing "that way madness lies."

The fifth story, "The Demoiselle d'Ys," was of a completely different ilk. It wasn't a bad story, but was a much simpler and less interesting story than the previous ones. It didn't feel original, either; although perhaps it was more unique when first published in 1895, I have a feeling this type of story is common in the folklore of various countries.

The sixth piece is actually a collection of short, weird poems which I might have liked more had I been reading the physical book. As I was listening to this as an audio book--speeded up, I sheepishly admit--they were really difficult to follow and led me to abandon the book at that point. I did a bit of research and found out that the final four stories in the collection are much different from the first four, written in a romantic fiction style that interests me not at all.

[I listened to this as an audio book performed with just the right tone of menace by Peter Noble.]