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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
In the Skull Palace and Other Stories is a work of fiction in the short stories and dark fantasy subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Mary Patterson Thornburg. Collecting together a rich anthology of dark fantasy fables, haunting moments, and cautionary tales, this is a collection that takes its name from the central story about a place where the walls are lined with the skeleton heads of beasts. As tensions rise between three dark figures at this sinister place, a further thirteen stories await readers, each with its own dark, bizarre, and often supernatural twists.
I adore dark fantasy, horror, and suspense tales, especially when they’re perfectly encapsulated in well-paced short stories, so naturally, I devoured every page of this excellent anthology. Author Mary Patterson Thornburg has a particular knack for both atmosphere and timing, weaving darkly painted, cinematic images that will haunt readers’ minds long after they have put down the book, but also deliver succinct tales that keep you in suspense and never waste a moment with overly-long prose or drawn-out dialogue. Each moment is superbly sharp, from the staccato timing of ‘Darkness and Light’ through to the haunting, tumbling narrative quality of ‘Niam’s Tale’. There is certainly something for everyone in this work, whatever your level of spin-tingling fun. Overall, In the Skull Palace and Other Stories is a worthy addition to your shelves this Halloween season, or indeed on any dark night when you’d like to escape into some high-quality fantasy fiction.