The King in Yellow – book club discussion questions

I reviewed The King in Yellow some time ago, but it has risen back into public consciousness through references in a new TV show. Time to revisit it for some book club discussion questions.

As a reminder, our book club discussion questions contain spoilers.

  • The first story takes place in a United States that was, to the author, in the future. What elements of his predicted future are correct, and which are incorrect. What does the way the society has evolved say about its values?
  • Chambers is one of the first authors to break out of Gothic horror and into modern horror. Which elements are older in style, and which newer?
  • What does the Fatal Chamber signify? Why is it given so prominent a place in the narrative?
  • Chambers is one of the first horror writers to use ambiguity in the way later popular with Lovecraft and his generation of authors. Discuss examples of what ambiguous phrases had the strongest impact for you, and contrast your impressions with those of other members of the group.
  • Are the later stories in the collection connected with the themes of the early stories, or are they just padding out the book?
  • Which of the horror stories is the most atmospheric, for you, and why?
  • Does the addition of a love interest necessarily weaken a horror story?

The Library Service does not have anything by Chambers, but The King in Yellow is available on Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and in audio from Librivox.