The Burn Palace
By Stephen Dobyns
(464 pages, fiction, 2013)
The Burn Palace sets up a great mystery right from the beginning – a baby disappears from it’s hospital crib, replaced by a large snake. The setting is a small Rhode Island town, where nothing so extraordinary has happened since the town’s namesake was attacked and killed by wolves decades earlier.
The tension builds to a violent crescendo as increasingly strange – possibly supernatural – happenings grip the town in a web of fear and suspicion. As the larger-than-life characters (some of whom have memorable funny names) try to fill in the gaps and bring this mystery to a conclusion, we are left to puzzle out what is real, what is imagined, and what happens to a community when those lines become blurred.
If you’re looking for an exciting New England mystery featuring shape-shifting coywolves, witches, midnight bonfire rituals, and a richly developed and relatable cast of characters this is a wild and enjoyable read.
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