Thursday, 6 October 2016

Book Review: Yellow King Tales volume 1: solid pallor and a tattered robe

After finding the recent Pulver edited anthology A Season in Carcosa a very mixed bag, I thought Id try this collection by the man himself. It starts very, very strongly; the first five stories are gloriously creepy and scary, modern-set noir-tinged Yellow King tales fraught with menace and madness, utilising many of the tropes of Chambers' original stories to stunning effect. Publication dates aren't listed for individual stories, but I can well imagine these were an influence on the original True Detective TV show.

Unfortunately, nothing else in the book hits that level of quality. There are many good stories but, for me, nothing great and frankly too much filler. Part of the problem was, perhaps, reading it as a block rather than dipping in, as Pulver's reliance on Cassilda and other fragments from the Yellow King play becomes somewhat repetitive.

In many of the stories the author also writes in a style that is neither prose nor poetry (or possibly both), going from normal block paragraphs to

setting out
the words




white                                                  space

and make use

experimental ways.

I didn't find this very effective - although, full disclosure, I have never been a fan of shape poems and find stream-of-consciousness writing generally insufferable, so perhaps I'm the wrong audience. The longer of these pieces I found myself scanning through as there didn't really seem to be a great deal of content within the form. There are also a couple of stories that are fine, but then have sudden Yellow King references shoehorned in at the end for no apparent reason, and much to the detriment of the tale.

I will definitely return to Pulver, perhaps trying some of his longer work or something not so narrowly focused as he can undoubtedly be a great writer.

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