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The Burn Palace

A Novel

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


The sleepy community of Brewster, Rhode Island, is just like any other small American town. It’s a place where most of the population will likely die blocks from where they were born; where gossip spreads like wildfire, and the big entertainment on weekends is the inevitable fight at the local bar. But recently, something out of the ordinary—perhaps even supernatural—has been stirring in Brewster. While packs of coyotes gather on back roads and the news spreads that a baby has been stolen from Memorial Hospital (and replaced in its bassinet by a snake), a series of inexplicably violent acts begins to confound Detective Woody Potter and the local police—and inspire terror in the hearts and minds of the locals.

From award-winning author Stephen Dobyns comes a sardonic yet chillingly suspenseful novel: the literary equivalent of a Richard Russo small-town tableau crossed with a Stephen King thriller. The Burn Palace is a darkly funny, twisted portrait of chaos and paranoia, with an impressive host of richly rendered, larger-than-life characters and a thrilling plot that will keep readers guessing until the final pages.

From Publishers Weekly

Dec 17, 2012 – The latest from the prolific Dobyns (after Eating Naked) is by turns an affectionate portrait of smalltown life, a terrifying supernatural thriller, and a sly horror comedy. Brewster, R.I., is a sleepy burg populated with a cast of lovable eccentrics. But something is wrong in this prototypical New England town. First, a baby is stolen from a local hospital and a huge striped snake put in the bassinet in its place. Then a body is found scalped in the woods. Meanwhile, packs of murderous coyotes make increasingly daring attacks on the townspeople. Most disturbing of all, locals begin coming forward with stories of strange rituals in the woods. For detective Woody Potter and acting police chief Fred Bonaldo, it s obvious something evil is afoot, perhaps to do with the town s new yoga center, or maybe linked to suspicious goings-on at the nearby funeral home. As the authorities descend from multiple jurisdictions creating chaos, it takes the help of young Hercel McGarity Jr., a 10-year-old who may possess the town s only benign magical powers, to give the people of Brewster a chance to defend themselves against something far darker than anyone imagined. Despite the novel s complexity, Dobyns gives his many characters space to come alive and allows each of the spooky subplots time to build maximum suspense. Scenes of young Hercel being menaced by a madman start out merely disturbing, but turn into some of the scariest in recent literature. Dobyn s tone, shifting from amused to sinister and back again, elevates the material by buttressing the horror with pitch black humor. A tour de force genre buster that could be a breakout.

Customer Reviews

The Burn Palace

I liked this a lot. It's an American character study meets detective novel meets "supernatural" horror story. Very well done. I read the last 100 pages in one sitting because the pull to resolution was so strong. I've read a couple of other books by this author ('Cold Dog Soup' and 'The Wrestler's Cruel Study) and have enjoyed all of them equally.


I really enjoyed his twists and turns; also the ability to respect the role of the reader's imagination so no 'over explaining' Makes you work for it though.

The Burn Palace
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  • $2.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Mysteries & Thrillers
  • Published: Feb 07, 2013
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 480 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings