Review: The Burn Palace by Stephen Dobyns


Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Date read: April 13 to 20, 2013
Read count: 1

Weird stuff happening in a small town, but everything comes together in the end in a believable conclusion (of sorts). That alone makes it worth the read.

Also, this book has hints of Stephen King… actually, it’s more like a bouillon cube of Stephen King. It has Stephen King flavorings, but stewed in a more fortified crock pot (if that makes any sense).

The familiar: sleepy small town, gossipy towns folk, gifted (read: not annoying) children, supernatural happenings, unusual deaths, mental illnesses, and animals with violent streak. What’s different from the usual Stephen King fare is you get a bird’s eye view of the the town and its inhabitants and you get to visit every character’s life (main player’s) and see events unfolding from his/her POV. Another thing that’s different is the horror element. Often it’s more humorous than scary. The central mystery has a real, not supernatural, culprit, and the conclusion is plausible and tidy, which you don’t often see in Stephen King stories.

I can’t shake the feeling that if this story was set in the 60s or 70s, it would have made more of an impact on the towns people and there’d be more of an ominous feel to the central mystery and deaths. Modern setting, technology, and crime-solving methods take away from the otherworldly feel of this sleepy town and its strange happenings.

Original review can be found here.


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