Wow! This was a terrific book! Solid historical detail, wonderfully flesh-and-blood characters wrapped around a mystery that keeps a reader guessing till the end. Frankly, I am shocked that this book has not been made into a mini-series or television show - it was so exciting and fun! I really enjoyed it, though I am not surprised that it was originally split into two books on account of the length. I am glad, however, that I did not have to wait at all to read the conclusion. And I am very excited to read the sequel - Matthew Corbett is a fun character!
hro reviewed Speaks the Nightbird, Volume I : Judgment of the Witch on
Helpful Score: 1
The Carolinas, 1699. The newly founded town of Fount Royal is facing a rash of disasters - murders, arsons, failed crops, illness. In desperation, the citizens cast the blame on Rachel Howarth and accuse her of witchcraft. Magistrate Isaac Woodward and his clerk Matthew Corbett arrive to preside over the trial and to determine Rachels fate. But Matthew soon realizes there is something far more sinister than witchcraft going on in Fount Royal. He risks everything to solve the mystery.and to exonerate Rachel.
The writing quality of Speaks the Nightbird is good; in fact, it is a notch above what I would expect to find in a mainstream genre fiction book. Other than that, all the things I liked were tempered with things I disliked.
The characters are rich and well developed, with distinctive personalities and solid back stories. However, almost everyone is completely unhinged. Insanity, in one form or another, runs rampant in this book, to the point of being unbelievable.
There are extensive descriptions of everything - clothing, cuisine, weather, landscape, furniture, tools, etc. While this made for a very visual read, it grew quite tiresome, and it somehow failed to add a sense of time to the story. And there was an unnecessary amount of vulgarity and crudity, which bothered me and added to my feeling that this was a more modern story. I rarely felt that I was reading about 1699.
The plot twists become increasingly outlandish as the book progresses. And when the mystery is solved and the motive and method revealed, I was stupefied at how ludicrous it was. Pirate treasure and hypnotism? Are you kidding? I read 900+ pages for that ridiculous conclusion? I feel so cheated.
This is the second volume and literally starts off where the first volume left off so be sure and read the first one before reading this one. I've just recently discovered this author who has been around for quite a while and who started off writing horror books and even those are a step above and very well written and well paced. This book, however, is not really horror but historical fiction set in the year of 1699 and involves a magistrate and his clerk, Matthew Corbett, on the way to a town to pronounce judgment on a suspected witch. It's a fascinating read and definitely has horror elements dealing with this subject matter, but is an intricate murder mystery most of all. The story is told through Matthew Corbett's point of view and I've learned the author has started a series with this character so I'm excited to find the next book to continue his journey.
Speaks the Nightbird is McCammon's first book after a ten-year layoff from writing. He was fed up with the publishing industry and how they handled his previous two novels, Boy's Life and Gone South. McCammon was a horror writer. He helped found the organization, Horror Writers of America, and his publisher didn't want him straying from the genre. It made them money and so they resisted when Bob wanted to write about something else. Anyone that has had the pleasure of hearing McCammon speak quickly realizes that he is not only an interesting individual, but he prides himself as a writer that is constantly growing. He doesn't want to rehash the same old tired story and, unfortunately, his publisher didn't support his desire to pursue writing about anything but horror. Instead of fighting what appeared to be a losing battle, McCammon chose to leave writing behind and spend time with his family. While I applaud his integrity to do what was right and to focus his attention toward his family, the fan in me missed his prose for a decade. If you've followed any of my reviews, you know that I crow to anyone that will listen (and to many that don't want to) about the talent that is Robert McCammon. His writing speaks to me like no other. His characters and dialogue are so realistic and vibrant that it feels like you've known them for much longer than it took to read his stories. Speaks the Nightbird is a perfect example.
Speaks the Nightbird is the first in a series of colonial America novels that feature his character Matthew Corbett. Matthew is the 20-year-old clerk for Magistrate Woodward who is summoned to Fount Royal, a start-up city on the swampy Carolina coast, to try the case of Rachel Howarth, a woman accused of killing the town minister and her husband while also being a witch. Corbett has been under the magistrate's tutelage ever since he rescued him from an orphanage five years prior and they have developed a father/son type of relationship. The young clerk is extremely inquisitive and has a penchant for solving puzzles.
After running afoul of trouble on the road to Fount Royal, they arrive with only the clothes on their backs to the town. They are welcomed inside the city gates and into the mansion of the the town's founder, Robert Bidwell. What they find in Fount Royal is a town gripped in panic and chaos. It seems that there have been two grisly murders, homes burned, crops dying, and the suspected witch causing all of the evil doings locked up. With three eyewitnesses with wildly fantastic stories and the town's population beginning to move away in fear, the remaining citizens are convinced of the witch's guilt and want her quickly condemned to death so that their lives may return to normalcy.
Ah, but things are not as they appear and here McCammon unfurls a wonderful tale of mystery in front of us all. Matthew Corbett is like a colonial Sherlock Holmes in a town that doesn't want to be swayed that the witch might possibly be innocent. McCammon writes with such rich detail of the period and the character development is amazing. Corbett is a character that you'll quickly identify with, as well as all of the towns people, and they immediately feel like people you already know. If you're a McCammon fan, Speaks the Nightbird is an absolute must. If you haven't experienced his writing yet, pick up a copy of this immediately. I can't stress enough how good this story is and how it'll be hard to put down.
This is from a series that I haven't finished yet.Citizens in Fount Royal believe that their town is cursed by a witch. Rachel Howarth is blamed and scheduled for execution. Young Matthew beleives that Rachel is innocent. But soon realizes that something truly evil resides in Fount Royal.
The Carolinas, 1699: The citizens of Fount Royal believe their town is cursed by a witch. What else could explain the sudden fires, crop failures and gruesome murders? Convinced that Rachel Howarth, the beautiful widow of the recently slain minister, is to blame, they throw her into a gaol to await trial and execution.
Presiding over the trial is traveling magistrate Issac Woodward, aided by his astute young clerk, Matthew-who, despite the evidenc against Rachel, believes in her innocence. But soon he realizes that there truly is Evil at work in Fount Royal: a malevolent force more powerful that any witch could ever hope to conjure...
The good citizens of Fount Royal, in the Carolinas of 1699, blame a witch for all the fires, crop failures, and murders, and become convinced that the widow of a murdered minister is the witch. The clerk of the judge overseeing her trial is convinced that she is innocent, that something far, far worse than a witch is at work. This is the first volume of a two-volume work.