In the Court Of The Yellow King, edited by Glynn Owen Barass is a love letter to the original Robert W. Chambers short story collection, ‘The King In Yellow’, with story themes that draw heavily on the concepts of the original while throwing a number of very interesting spins into the formula, just to see what happens.
There is a lot of variety in this short story collection, ranging from Pugmire’s short tour of Carcossa as seen through a painting, to Morris’ reconstruction of the original reality-warping influence of Carcossa, transmitted through FM frequencies. Snyder’s action-fantasy story makes for an excellent break in the overall bleak tones found in most stories of the collection and Henderson’s Yield puts an interesting new spin on the original theme of the infamous fictional play ‘The King In Yellow’. Eric York’s interior illustrations of Cassilda are also set up in very appropriate tarot card arrangements but it’s Daniele Serra’s eerie cover artwork that really steals the show. If you were on the fence on whether you should purchase a tangible copy of the book, then a glance at the cover alone should help you decide.
My one complaint with the anthology might be, for the most avid of King In Yellow fans out there, its greatest strength: In the Court Of the Yellow King is overwhelmingly bleak at times, with a lot of the stories being utterly hopeless from the word go. While I am all for some good old cosmic horror, the Yellow King stories do not feature epic clashes with unspeakable horrors or offer (in that strange Lovecraftian way) a sliver of hope for the future. The King In Yellow instead operates like a particularly horrible disease, washing over everyone and everything, leaving only broken, feverish things in its wake.
If you are up for some depressingly good cosmic horror that remains overwhelmingly true to the original with some great art to boot, then this anthology might just be the thing for you.