Review: The Burn Palace

Stephen Dobyns really impressed me with  The Church of Dead Girls a few years ago.  It’s the kind of book that makes you read anything you see an author put out after it to see how powerful his work can be.  The followup, Boy in The Water also had its pleasures. The Burn Palace is another thriller that ripples out from an eerie initial murder.

I enjoyed many aspects of The Burn Palace.  The plot is lean and propulsive and the characters are all well drawn and interesting.  The setting is well realized and the writing is powerful.  It is diverting in every way.

What it doesn’t have is the haunting initial image and mounting dread of Girls or the meditation on evil present in Boy. This seems like a good thriller without any other agenda. It is enjoyable but not nearly so memorable as some of Dobyns’s best work.

It’s no sin for a thriller to be unfavorably compared to The Church of Dead Girls. Burn Palace is a great way to spend a flight or a few days of reading, but it won’t haunt you.


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