I recently spent a very anxious weekend with a family member in a local ICU. I dragged along a new book to keep me company between tests and consutations. After finishing it some time after midnight of the second day, I handed it off to an elevator acquaintance who was there looking after one of her family members, only to witness her collapse in the parking lot a few hours later. She went from visitor to patient in the blink of an eye.

My imagination kicked in and I wondered then, as I ask you all now, are there tales or tomes out there with histories of bad luck or trouble? (Yup, that was the book.)

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As if the Necronomicon was not enough? For those not into horror fiction, the mythical NECRONOMICON was dreamed up by early 20th century American author H. P. Lovecraft. It was said to contain the darkest of magic and could always be counted on to ruin the lives of those who possessed it every bit as much as those on whom the magick was to be used. Lovecraft had a circle of devoted followers, some of whom made reference to the Necronomicon and/or created their own "Bad Books" in homage. (Robert Bloch, Frank Belknap Long, etc.)

A small press is currently putting together an anthology of new and old stories about books with connections to evil. Here's a link to their submission guidelines: Books Gone Bad

.. and the compulsive packrat that lives in my head just thought of a few more cursed books in fiction.

THE KING IN YELLOW is a collection of short stories by Robert W. Chambers, and the title refers to a theatrical play printed in book form which curses anyone who reads it. Available as a free online text downloads at Project Gutenberg, and free audiobook download at Librivox.org.

Raymond Chandler must have known about that one, as he titled one of his short stories THE KING IN YELLOW, but only refers in passing to one of his characters reading the book. Part of his collection SPANISH BLOOD.

One of the FATHER BROWN stories by G. K. Chesterton, THE BLAST OF THE BOOK, treads this same general landscape, with the report of someone committing suicide from simply reading a passage in a cursed book.


i love the concept of objects being cursed. i've always found it really compelling.
Doug, this is great stuff.
Are you counting MacBeth? Theatre companies are very edgy about performing it.

The show Equus is also said to be very hard on the actors in the show. Not so much bad luck, but it very much changes them, not always for the better, simply due to the intensity of the story.

Maybe not quite what you were looking for, but two examples I can think of in the theatre world.


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