Thursday, 20 March 2014

‘The King’, in: Yellow’ Brian Keene

A short story today as I find myself in the middle of a couple of books (both good, I really should have picked up ‘Heroes Die’ years ago…) and I also realised that I haven’t been paying much attention the books on my Kindle App just recently. I think there’s part of me that will never see books as being anywhere other than bookshelves; even my Dad is more technologically with it than I am and that’s kind of sad…

Anyway, I first read ‘The King’, in: Yellow’ way back in July 2012 but figured it was due a revisit as the vague memory of the read prompted me to finally pick up a copy of the original ‘The King in Yellow’ (Robert W. Chambers) this morning. It’s a nice slim commuter read so you can expect to see a review sooner than later I reckon.
I’ve a limited knowledge of the original work but I have enough (thanks for that Wikipedia) to know that Keene takes the ‘King in Yellow’ play out of the background of the original (where you never actually see it performed) and gives it centre stage in a story where a couple’s plan for a night out take a terrifying turn at the Chambers Theatre (see what Keene did there?)
Last time I read ‘The King’, in: Yellow’ I said,

Keene really taps into the effect this play will have on you (you can feel the fear and Keene pulls the curtain right back on the insanity that follows) but there was nothing to the play itself that would suggest such a reaction. I'm not sure if this was intentional or not but it felt like the two elements of the plot just weren't gelling for me.

Having re-read ‘The King’, in: Yellow’, having also read a little more weird horror since then, the play has more of an affect this time round. It’s not just random names being spouted, you come away with a real idea of the mythos behind it so maybe this is one to read once you have a little more horror under your belt. The other thing I noted this time round was Keene’s ability to switch almost seamlessly from ‘body horror’ to good old fashioned tension (reminiscent of Lovecraft in taking Fin and Kathryn into unknown dark parts of the city), both of which he does very well. It’s very bloody when it needs to be but also has a nasty habit of making the hairs on your arm stand up at the same time. I still don’t get all the dead rock stars being included (I suspect they had to be there so Keene could word play on the title) but ‘The King’, in: Yellow’ works a lot better on a second read, no doubt about it. If you want to read it yourself, you can find ‘The King’, in: Yellow’ in ‘Jack’s Magic Beans’ (Deadite Press).

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