The first four stories are loosely connected by three main devices:
- A fictional play in book form entitled The King in Yellow
- A mysterious and malevolent supernatural entity known as The King in Yellow
- An eerie symbol called The Yellow Sign
These stories are macabre in tone, centering, in keeping with the other tales, on characters that are often artists or decadents.
The first and fourth stories, "The Repairer of Reputations" and "The Yellow Sign", are set in an imagined future 1920s America, whereas the second and third stories, "The Mask" and "In the Court of the Dragon", are set in Paris. These stories are haunted by the theme: "Have you found the Yellow Sign?"
The weird and macabre character gradually fades away during the remaining stories, and the last three are written in the romantic fiction style common to Chambers' later work. They are all linked to the preceding stories by their Parisian setting and their artistic protagonists.
List of stories
The stories in the book are:
- "The Repairer of Reputations" – A powerful, weird story of egotism and paranoia that carries the imagery of the book's title.
- "The Mask" – A dream story of art, love, and uncanny science.
- "In the Court of the Dragon" – A man is pursued by a sinister church organist who is after his soul.
- "The Yellow Sign" – An artist is troubled by a sinister churchyard watchman who resembles a coffin worm.
- "The Demoiselle d'Ys" – A ghost story, the theme of which anticipates H. G. Wells' "The Door in the Wall" (1906).
- "The Prophets' Paradise" – A sequence of eerie prose poems that develop the style and theme of a quote from the fictional play The King in Yellow which introduces "The Mask".
- "The Street of the Four Winds" – An atmospheric tale of an artist in Paris who is drawn to a neighbor's room by a cat; the story ends with a macabre touch.
- "The Street of the First Shell" – A war story set in the Paris Siege of 1870.
- "The Street of Our Lady of the Fields" – Romantic American bohemians in Paris.
- "Rue Barrée" – Romantic American bohemians in Paris, with a discordant ending that playfully reflects some of the tone of the first story.