Review: The Emerald Princess and Other Decadent Fantasies by Félicien Champsaur

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Félicien Champsaur's The Emerald Princess and Other Decadent Fantasies was published by Snuggly Books in December 2017.

Information about Félicien Champsaur:

Félicien Champsaur (1858-1934) was a prolific French novelist and journalist. A core member of Émile Goudeau’s literary club, the Hydropathes, he later became, through his own periodical, Le Panurge, loosely aligned with key figures of the Decadent Movement, such as Jean Lorrain and Rachilde. Though writing novels in a number of different veins, and attempting to establish himself as a “serious novelist” he was never able to shake off his reputation as a composer of risqué romances and erotic fantasies, a reputation that was not at odds with his public image.

Information about The Emerald Princess and Other Decadent Fantasies:

The Emerald Princess, originally published in 1928 as La Princesse émeraude, is one of the more whimsical productions of a rather self-indulgent period of Félicien Champsaur’s career, deliberately harking back to the stylistic extravagances of the Decadent Movement. In this attempt by the author to go beyond anything he had done before, in producing a kind of ultimate femme fatale, Djila, the snake-woman, was created.

An engagingly bizarre fantasy, full of lurid symbolism, The Emerald Princess is combined in this volume with five other stories, all presented in English for the first time in exquisite translations by Brian Stableford.


Félicien Champsaur's The Emerald Princess and Other Decadent Fantasies is a real treat for everybody who loves decadent and beautifully written fantasy stories. It contains captivating, erotic and amusing stories that will charm readers with their atmosphere.

I have to mention that I have a special place in my heart for this kind of fiction, because I've always enjoyed stories that are unconventional and something out of the ordinary. Good old-fashioned and well written decadent fiction is simply marvellous, because it differs greatly from modern fiction and allows readers to immerse themselves in wonderfully twisted and surprising stories. I consider this collection to be a perfect showcase of decadent and symbolistic storytelling.

All of the stories in this collection are marked by beautifully written prose. They're akin to Jean Lorrain's stories, but are distinctly different from them due to the author's own literary voice. In my opinion, the author brings his own unique literary flavour to the genre and enriches it with his stories.

The collection contain the following stories:

- Faust's Grandson
- The Mystery Woman
- The Fantastic Tram
- The Incredulous Parrot
- Pierrot and His Conscience
- The Emerald Princess

Each of these stories is entertaining and enjoyable, because they're fantasy stories for adults. They can be recommended to everybody who loves decadent fiction. If you're a newcomer to decadent fiction and haven't read any decadent stories yet, this collection is an excellent starting point, because these stories are among the best of the genre.

The atmosphere in these stories intrigues me, because elements related to life, death, love, wealth and lust are in full display in them. The author writes shamelessly about these elements and offers amazing sights to his readers.

Here's more information about the stories and my thoughts about them:

Faust's Grandson:

- In this opening story, the protagonist, Faust's grandson, meets Satan and makes a bit different kind of a deal with him.
- I enjoyed reading about what was written about the value of souls, because it was brilliant and surprising.
- An excellent story with a good ending.

The Mystery Woman:

- A story about a man who is in love with a mysterious woman. The man knows almost nothing about the woman.
- The depictions of the man's yearning for the woman are effective and memorable. It was interesting to read about how the man began to think that the woman must have somebody else in her life besides him.
- This is an intriguing tale of love, passion, insecurity and yearning with a perfect ending. The final sentence is simply brilliant.

The Fantastic Tram:

- A wonderfully whimsical story about a tram and its drunken driver.
- This is an excellent story, because it's something different and has a fantastical ending.
- I have a feeling that many readers will find this story highly enjoyable and entertaining.

The Incredulous Parrot:

- Ah, what a delightful and amusing story! I enjoyed this story a lot, because it's a humorous story about a parrot and its behaviour.
- This story is one of funniest stories I've read in a while.

Pierrot and His Conscience:

- A story about Pierrot who wakes up in his coffin in Montmartre cemetery. When the deceased Pierrot wakes up, his Conscience gets up with him. Soon Pierrot attends the Paris Opéra...
- In my opinion, this story is one of the finest examples of literary storytelling with decadent and depraved elements, because the author leads his readers into the heart of what literary decadent fiction is by writing about Pierrot white and Pierrot black and what happens to Pierrot during the night.
- This is definitely one of the most captivating stories I've read this year, because I found myself totally mesmerised by the happenings.

The Emerald Princess:

- When I finished reading "Pierrot and His Conscience", I thought that nothing could surpass it, but I was wrong. This novella-length story is definitely the best and most fascinating story in this collection.
- This is a story about the romance of Myram, the Pearl Fisher and Djila, the Emerald Princess, who selects husbands from young men. The fates of the young men are macabre...
- The worldbuilding is effortless and interesting, because the author effectively brings out the contrast between the Low City and the magnificent emerald temple.
- This story has a compelling feel of Arabian Nights to it. It also has a distinct pulp fantasy flavour, which can't be found in the other stories.
- A beautifully written and excellent fantasy story that will fascinate many readers.

I think that "The Fantastic Tram" and "The Incredulous Parrot" will delight readers who are familiar with Rhys Hughes' quirky stories, because they're both charmingly amusing. If you've ever read anything by Rhys Hughes, you'll love these stories.

As a big fan of classic pulp fantasy fiction, I was deeply impressed by "The Emerald Princess". This story can be seen as an original combination of Robert E. Howard's fantasy stories and Tales of the Arabian Nights. Djila, the Emerald Princess, is quite an unforgettable character, because she's a venomous woman whose husbands meet their fates by her venom while expecting sexual pleasures. It was fascinating to read about her and what happens to her husbands.

The exquisitely beautiful translation by Brian Stableford is simply amazing, because it's perfect in every regard. I'm amazed at his ability to translate this kind of fiction, because he manages to maintain all the nuances of the original texts in his translations. The prose is stunningly beautiful, nuanced and atmospheric. I love the archaic language, because it's different from modern language.

Félicien Champsaur's The Emerald Princess and Other Decadent Fantasies is mandatory reading material for everyone who loves decadent stories and enjoys well written tales. This collection should not be missed by fans of decadent fiction, because it's highly enjoyable.

Highly recommended!