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The King in Yellow – Robert W. Chambers #BookReview

Title:
The King in Yellow and Other Stories

Author:
Robert W. Chambers

Genre:
Horror/Weird Fiction

Book procurement:
Obtained a copy from The Project Gutenberg

Rating:

A pleasant 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

“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 treasured source used by almost all the significant writers in the American pulp tradition — H. P. Lovecraft, A. Merritt, Robert E. Howard, and many others — it endures as a work of remarkable power and one of the most chillingly original books in the genre.
This collection reprints all the supernatural stories from The King in Yellow, including the grisly “Yellow Sign,” the disquieting “Repairer of Reputations,” the tender “Demoiselle d’Ys,” and others. Robert W. Chambers’ finest stories from other sources have also been added, such as the thrilling “Maker of Moons” and “The Messenger.” In addition, an unusual pleasure awaits those who know Chambers only by his horror stories: three of his finest early biological science-fiction fantasies from In Search of the Unknown appear here as well.

First Thoughts

I’m a Stephen King fan. I’ve read my share of Edgar Allen Poe. Fawned over H.P. Lovecraft. All of them influenced in some way by Robert W. Chambers from Stephen King’s Crimson King in The Dark Tower series to mention of the Yellow Sign in H.P. Lovecraft’s The Whisperer in the Darkness. Once I learned of these correlations, it is obvious I would read the very man who influenced the writers who influenced me.

So I was expecting something of profound darkness and fear and instead  was greeted by a good dose of weird fiction. The title of this book is also the name of the book appearing in most of the short stories contained within the anthology; a fictional play called The King in Yellow. It reminds me of the “Necronomicon” where madness proceeds those that either read through it or research its contents. The first few stories had me begging for more while the remaining stories moved from the weird and into character development.

This book (the Necronomicon) was also the inspiration for my Wattpad horror novella Faux.

The Story

The Repairer of Reputations

A fascinating story to kick off the weirdness in the collection. A man is drawn towards a recluse whose business is repairing the reputation of those in society. While there is much scorn for this Repairer, out protagonist Constance finds much fascination in the man and the journal he keeps. One that causes deep paranoia and abject egotism in Constance, all of which relate to The King. Yes, that king.

The Mask

The story begins with an excerpt from the play The King in Yellow Act I, Scene 2. From then we delve into the lives of Alec, Boris, and Geneviève where Alex and Boris are artists (sculptors). Boris finds a peculiar substance that can transform live objects into pure, detailed marble works. At the same time there is romance and art revolving around the three. Beautiful and mesmerising.

In The Court of the Dragon

Ah this was one of my favourite stories. A man is in a church and spots a perculiar organist who begins to haunt him. He fears the man is after his soul. You get a sense of fear and paranoia as he seeks to escape what he feels is certain fate.

The Yellow Sign

Another one that prickled my sense of paranoia (are you getting the theme yet?) where an artist (this too) finds himself haunted by vivid dreams and a sinister, bizarre churchyard watchman who resembles a maggot. There is also some romance involved.

The Demoiselle D’YS

Yeah… So I had to translate a lot of words from French to English to understand some of the words being used here but a lot of the story can be read without needing to fully understand the romantic language. The story also contains a lot of references to The King in Yellow although no actual reference to the book is used. Romance builds very quickly in what I can only describe as a ghost story.

The Prophets’ Paradise

Beautifully written short prose pieces that speak of love and death and beauty, all drawn from a quote within the King in Yellow.

The Street of the Four Winds

This was a unique story that did not involve art (but an artist) or romance but a cat. Yes a feline stops at the door of Severn and he seeks to take care of it while looking for its owner. The end takes an interesting morbid twist.

The Street of the First Shell

A poignant tale set in Paris during the Paris Seige of 1870 as bombs drop and a poverty stricken city do what they can to survive. Protagonist Jack cares for his sickly wife who worries dearly about him leaving the house at night while bombs drop from the sky. Nothing weird or horrific in this tale in terms of the supernatural, but only of the horrors of romance.

The Street of Our Lady of the Fields / Rue Barrèe

More sentimental, moving stories of love and romance set in Paris and among artists coming from America to be art students in the city. A story with an assortment of fascinating characters and a bohemian lifestyle. Gorgeous setting and character development.

Writing

Beyond the weird and the paranoia and assortment of artists practicing their art in Paris, the writing itself is vivid and descriptive. Enough to give form to each character you meet and delving into each of their personas with clarity. Allowing you to feel their heartbreaks, their paranoia and all the emotions they experience. Chamber’s writing style flows eloquently and at the same time almost disjointed. Reflecting the very way  people speak and think despite what our contemporaries might deem grammatically incorrect.

Deep reflective writing if I have read any.

Final Thoughts

While the content of the short stories were not exactly what I was expecting, there is no denying the beauty of Chamber’s writing style and ability to create such well detailed characters. As though he himself were observing these very people and writing of them in their presence. I glean some of that Stephen King character development style, understanding the influence may extend beyond the embodiment of evil known as the Crimson King.

I won’t say I enjoyed the book for its horror, but the ideas were unique and wide spread and the writing masterful.


The King in Yellow was published in 1895/1970.

Did you know: Lovecraft borrowed Chambers’ method of only vaguely referring to supernatural events, entities, and places, thereby allowing his readers to imagine the horror for themselves. The play The King in Yellow effectively became another piece of occult literature in the Cthulhu Mythos alongside the Necronomicon and others.

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Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea #BookRecommendation

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (French: Vingt mille lieues sous les mers) is a classic science fiction novel by French writer Jules Verne, published in 1870. It is about the fictional Captain Nemo and his submarine, Nautilus, as seen by one of his passengers, Professor Pierre Aronnax.


This is one of those classics I have yet to read and have heard great things about. From Jules Verne, the man who wrote “Around the World in Eighty Days” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth” he is obviously on my to read list and should be on yours too.

Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who pioneered the genre of science-fiction. Verne wrote about space, air, and underwater travel before navigable aircraft and practical submarines were invented, and before any means of space travel had been devised. He is the third most translated author of all time, behind Disney Productions and Agatha Christie. His prominent novels have been made into films. Verne, along with H. G. Wells, is often referred to as the “Father of Science Fiction”.

Memorable Books

I was going to post the book review for C.L. Polk’s debut novella, Witchmark, but then I remembered that it first has to appear in our next issue of Gamecca Magazine first which means it will have to wait until next month. It’s a contract thing. Anyway while I’m still working through Robert W. Chambers’ The King In Yellow for the next review (I’m halfway through don’t worry), I thought perhaps I should talk about books for today.


There’s this part of me that wishes I had impeccable memory and can recall the contents of a book thoroughly enough to sound… well like a scholar. I know it sounds pretentious but have you heard people talk about books like they were literally living in them? Character names. Places. Events. Linking scenes and quotes between books to draw revelations I would have otherwise completely missed. I want that ha ha. Although in my defense, I spent way too much of my youth reading Stephen King so I could probably do that with a couple of his books (looks at the collection of The Dark Tower novels).

Memorable Books

While I may lack that ability to fully recount a book’s contents, here are some memorable books I’ve read over the years that I remember well and still think of to this day. Some I can draw correlations across other books while others just changed my worldview:

1. The Program – Gregg Hurwitz

The Program Gregg Hurwitz

2. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

3. Kill Baxter – Charlie Human

4. Once – James Herbert

5. Endgame – James Frey, Nils Johnson-Shelton

6. The Bachman Books – Stephen King as Richard Bachman

7. Books of Blood – Clive Barker

8. Beyond the Pale – Mark Anthony

9. Three – Ted Dekker

10. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline


Do you have any books that have stuck in your mind or you still recall to this day? Perhaps any book that changed your mind, thoughts, world view?

Witchmark by C.L. Polk #BookRecommendation

C. L. Polk arrives on the scene with Witchmark, a stunning, addictive fantasy that combines intrigue, magic, betrayal, and romance.

In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.

Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family’s interest or to be committed to a witches’ asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans’ hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.

When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be reviewing it for tomorrow’s book review. I know this recommendation is a day late but hey better late than never right?

C. L. Polk wrote her first story in grade school and still hasn’t learned any better. After spending years in strange occupations and wandering western Canada, she settled in southern Alberta with her rescue dog Otis. She has a fondness for knitting, bicycles, and single estate coffee. C. L. has had short stories published in Baen’s UNIVERSE and Gothic.net, and contributed to the web serial Shadow Unit (http://shadowunit.org/), and spends too much time on twitter at @clpolk.

Stranger in a Strange Land #Recommendation

NAME: Valentine Michael Smith
ANCESTRY: Human
ORIGIN: Mars

Valentine Michael Smith is a human being raised on Mars, newly returned to Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while teaching them his own fundamental beliefs in grokking, watersharing, and love.


I’m on a quest to read all the classic fantasy/sci-fi books and appear more learned on these legendary literary works. Apparently it’s a thing. This particular book’s synopsis inspires a story in me, or rather fuels an existing story idea I’ve been afraid to write. Guess we’ll see.

 

Robert Anson Heinlein was an American novelist and science fiction writer. Often called “the dean of science fiction writers”, he is one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of “hard science fiction”.

He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre’s standards of literary quality. He was the first SF writer to break into mainstream, general magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, in the late 1940s. He was also among the first authors of bestselling, novel-length science fiction in the modern, mass-market era.

The King in Yellow #Recommendation

“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 treasured source used by almost all the significant writers in the American pulp tradition — H. P. Lovecraft, A. Merritt, Robert E. Howard, and many others — it endures as a work of remarkable power and one of the most chillingly original books in the genre.
This collection reprints all the supernatural stories from The King in Yellow, including the grisly “Yellow Sign,” the disquieting “Repairer of Reputations,” the tender “Demoiselle d’Ys,” and others. Robert W. Chambers’ finest stories from other sources have also been added, such as the thrilling “Maker of Moons” and “The Messenger.” In addition, an unusual pleasure awaits those who know Chambers only by his horror stories: three of his finest early biological science-fiction fantasies from In Search of the Unknown appear here as well.


If you read my this past Friday Fiction, The Best Gift, then you know how influential this book became to my writing. I’ll probably do a review for it this Wednesday too. A great read for horror writers and readers.

Robert William Chambers was an American artist and writer. His most famous, and perhaps most meritorious, effort is The King in Yellow, a collection of weird short stories, connected by the theme of the fictitious drama The King in Yellow, which drives those who read it insane.

Chambers returned to the weird genre in his later short story collections The Maker of Moons and The Tree of Heaven, but neither earned him such success as The King in Yellow.

Chambers later turned to writing romantic fiction to earn a living. According to some estimates, Chambers was one of the most successful literary careers of his period, his later novels selling well and a handful achieving best-seller status. Many of his works were also serialized in magazines. After 1924 he devoted himself solely to writing historical fiction.

Chambers died at his home in the village of Broadalbin, New York, on December 16th 1933.

Aaru – David Meredith #BookReview

Title:
Aaru

Author:
David Meredith

Genre:
Science Fantasy

Book procurement:
Received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review

Rating:

A promising 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

“…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.

Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

First Thoughts

The last book I read written by David Meredith was a Snow White retelling, or rather post Snow White, written in beautiful, flowing tones reflecting the fantastical fairy tale world. This book moves across that genre slightly to a more modern, science based world. The difference in style caught me off guard when I started reading. I didn’t know what to expect for the remainder of the book. After a rather slow start it started to pick up towards the end and into a brilliant end.

Also, I liked the references to real life characters and places, altered for copyright reasons I’m sure. Jonas Perry – I see what you did there Mr Meredith.

The Story

The story focuses on two main characters. Rose is sick and dying. Her hope comes one day in the form of a virtual paradise called Aaru, built by Elysian Industries (side note: Elysian means relating to or characteristic of heaven or paradise). Koren is Rose’s younger sister who looks up to her older sister and hates seeing Rose on her deathbed. Once Rose is sent to Aaru, she becomes the spokesperson for Aaru as the grief stricken sister who can still be with her now virtually immortal sister.

What begins as a beautiful after life for both sisters, they soon learn to come to grips with the various aspects of their new lives. Rose in the virtual world questions what it all is. Koren realises that being a celebrity is not all its made to be.

Lastly, there comes an intense danger to both sisters that completely rocks the very foundation of their new lives. I want to say more but it will become a spoiler so…

Writing

Initially the book was a bit slow. In a sense boring, and as much as I understand it was Mr. Meredith’s way of getting us to know the characters, some of it felt a little to drawn out. In my opinion we spent too much time with Rose in hospital, though I guess it helped to ground me in the idea that she was practically hopeless. Which makes the introduction of Aaru all the more compelling both to me as a reader, and to Rose as the recipient.

While I appreciated the slight references to real world characters (Jonas Perry, Ronaldo Casillas etc), it also ruined the illusion that this particular story is taking place on “this” Earth or “this” reality. It’s nothing major but it did distract me because in my head I kept changing in-book characters with their actual real-life counterparts.

 

The real story here in Aaru, despite the whole thing with Koren and Rose, is this idea of life after death. There were some religious crazies making appearances, questioning the whole idea of God, and how Elysian Industries is in a sense playing God. Elysian then states they are not playing God, but rather providing a platform where those who are about to die can continue to live on in their virtual world. In Aaru. But… are they really living though?

Unfortunately with these kinds of books, Christians are never depicted as anything other than ignorant idiots believing some old tome with religious zealousness that has no actual understanding of God. Using the bible as a means to justify their unjustified beliefs. Its an unfair portrayal and one held by too many people. Sadly, sometimes its true. (End Rant)

From the Christian perspective of not just reading the bible but learning of God’s character and our role (humans) as His creation, the soul cannot be downloaded into a computer. The mind? Sure. It is data after all.  The question all these Sci-fi kinds of stories ask is: Is the mind extracted into data, living as a remnant of the actual person, the person themselves? Or are they merely mind-data acting as data is expected to, in light of the tons of memories stored in hard drives, defining who they, as the “mind-data”, are supposed to be? I think of Transcendence with Johnny Depp.

 

Final Thoughts

Once I got through to halfway in the book, the whole story dynamic changed. It changed in the sense that there was finally some action. It’s all good and well to read about a soccer match straight out of Inazuma Eleven or Shaolin Soccer or reading about people flying and creating mansions (oh the biblical references in this book), and the romance building up, but all of this is the fluff around the real story. The story which is the idea of life after death, as explained above, but also the privacy and safety of being a celebrity.

The second half turned into a brilliant thriller and I loved every part after that. If the book had started out this way, I might have enjoyed it better. There were some uncomfortable scenes, necessary for the story, and this second half just didn’t hold back at all. To that, I give Mr. Meredith great credit.

All in all, if the second book (which is part of the first book in the Aaru Cycle) continues where this book ends off, I’ll be very happy.


Aaru was published July 9th, 2017.

Did you know: David Meredith teaches English in the Nashville area. This is his second published book.

About Author

David Meredith is a writer and educator originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. He received both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee. He received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee. On and off, he spent nearly a decade, from 1999-2010 teaching English in Northern Japan, but currently lives with his wife and three children in the Nashville Area where he continues to write and teach English.

Author Page: DavidMeredithWriting


Are you an author who wants your book reviewed? Contact me on my site: NthatoMorakabi.com

Mortom by Erik Therme #Recommendation #MTW2018

Andy Crowl barely knew his recently deceased cousin, Craig Moore, so he’s especially surprised to be named as the sole beneficiary in Craig’s will. Not that there’s much to inherit: just an empty bank account and a run-down house.

Once Andy arrives in the town of Mortom, however, he’s drawn into his puzzle-obsessed cousin’s true legacy: a twisted and ominous treasure hunt. Beckoned by macabre clues of dead rats and cemetery keys, Andy jumps into the game, hoping to discover untold wealth. But unsavory secrets—and unanswered questions about Craig’s untimely demise—arise at every turn, leading Andy to wonder if he’s playing the game…or if the game is playing him.

Something’s rotten in Mortom. And this dead man’s game might not be all that Andy is doomed to lose.


It’s around that time of the year again for Mystery Thriller Week #MTW2018. Every year the MTW blog creates a buzz for Thriller/Mystery books and lets readers and authors congregate to celebrate the genre. I had the pleasure of reviewing Michael Smorenburg’s LifeGames Corporation the last time. This time I will be reviewing Mortom, which I have received from Erike Therme author of the book.

Find out more about Mystery Thriller Week.

Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering for his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his seventeen-year-old. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only twenty places in the world UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.

Join Erik’s mailing list to be notified of new releases and author giveaways: http://eepurl.com/cD1F8L

River of Teeth Series by Sarah Gailey #Recommendation

 

In 2017 Sarah Gailey made her debut with River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow, two action-packed novellas that introduced readers to an alternate America in which hippos rule the colossal swamp that was once the Mississippi River. Now readers have the chance to own both novellas in American Hippo, a single, beautiful volume.
Years ago, in an America that never was, the United States government introduced herds of hippos to the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This plan failed to take into account some key facts about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

By the 1890s, the vast bayou that was once America’s greatest waterway belongs to feral hippos, and Winslow Houndstooth has been contracted to take it back. To do so, he will gather a crew of the damnedest cons, outlaws, and assassins to ever ride a hippo. American Hippo is the story of their fortunes, their failures, and his revenge.


I read through this series thanks to Gamecca Magazine and Tor.com and must say they were a truly unique read with the main focus on hippos and Southern American lifestyle. Definitely recommend these.

Hugo and Campbell award finalist Sarah Gailey is an internationally-published writer of fiction and nonfiction. Her nonfiction has been published by Mashable and the Boston Globe, and she is a regular contributor for Tor.com and Barnes & Noble. Her most recent fiction credits include Mothership Zeta, Fireside Fiction, and the Speculative Bookshop Anthology. Her debut novella duology, River of Teeth, was published in 2017 via Tor.com. She has a novel forthcoming from Tor Books in Spring 2019.

Gailey lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon with her two scrappy dogs. You can find links to her work at www.sarahgailey.com; find her on social media @gaileyfrey.

The Armored Saint #Recommendation

In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.


I’ll be reviewing this book for Gamecca Magazine. Shout out to TOR.com for bringing out such amazing books and keeping us reading.

PS: I was at Exclusive Books – Clearwater Mall and I almost decided that money didn’t matter, only every book that existed on those shelves. Such beautiful books. Most of which have showed up on this blog as To Read or a recommendation. Someone want to buy me an Exclusive Books? I promise I’ll transform it into an amazing library where we can have cookies and coffee/tea while indulging in the beauty and joy of reading.

Anyone?

Lorraine Ambers

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