Todd Keisling’s Devil’s Creek recently made it onto the Final Ballot for the Bram Stoker Award in Superior Achievement in a Novel, and there’s good reason for that. It’s very likely the best thing I read in 2020, and also one of my favorite contemporary horror novels, period. Reviewers have compared it to Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, and while usually I might roll my eyes slightly at such a comparison, in this case it’s very apt.
First, some background on The King in Yellow. Prior to season one of HBO’s True Detective series, many folks had never heard of Robert W. Chambers or his book of short stories by the same name. The book is named after a fictional play with the same title. The first half of the book features highly esteemed weird stories, and has been described by critics as a classic in the field of the supernatural. There are ten stories, the first four of which mention The King in Yellow, a forbidden play which induces despair or madness in those who read it.