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Speaks the Nightbird [Hardcover]

Robert R. McCammon
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 30.22 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2002
Judgment of the Witch

The Carolinas, 1699: The citizens of Fount Royal believe a witch has cursed their town with inexplicable tragedies -- and they demand that beautiful widow Rachel Howarth be tried and executed for witchcraft. Presiding over the trial is traveling magistrate Issac Woodward, aided by his astute young clerk, Matthew Corbett. Believing in Rachel's innocence, Matthew will soon confront the true evil at work in Fount Royal....

Evil Unveiled

After hearing damning testimony, magistrate Woodward sentences the accused witch to death by burning. Desperate to exonerate the woman he has come to love, Matthew begins his own investigation among the townspeople. Piecing together the truth, he has no choice but to vanquish a force more malevolent than witchcraft in order to save his beloved Rachel -- and free Fount Royal from the menace claiming innocent lives.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

A trial for witchcraft proves the tip of an iceberg of intrigues in this absorbing historical mystery, the first newly published novel in 10 years from McCammon (the book was written in the mid-'90s), a bestseller in the 1980s with such supernatural novels in the Stephen King tradition as Usher's Passing and Baal. Set in 1699 in Fount Royal, a coastal settlement in the colonial Carolinas, this latest unfolds the adventures of magistrate Isaac Woodward and his assistant, Matthew Corbett, who have been summoned to the struggling town to adjudicate in the trial of Rachel Howarth, a young widow accused of deviltry that is blamed for murders, wretched weather and other calamities driving settlers away. Though town leaders press for swift execution, Matthew is persuaded by Rachel's dignity and fortitude that she's innocent. Using skills honed living by his wits as an orphaned child, he pursues inconsistencies in testimony and throwaway clues and uncovers an elaborate plot involving pirate booty, animal magnetism and deadly deceit at the highest levels of town organization. This robust tale is as historically detailed as it is long, and its recreation of an era where superstition held its own with enlightenment is among its strongest achievements. Anachronisms, improbably fortuitous coincidences and private dramas that make Fount Royal seem a pre-Revolutionary Peyton Place lard the plot, but Matthew's race against time to save Rachel with the rudimentary tools to hand makes a compulsively readable yarn. McCammon's loyal fans will find his resurfacing reason to rejoice. (Sept.) Forecast: Those who enjoyed the author's last three novels (Mine; Boy's Life; Gone South), studies of the human condition that transcended genre labeling, will snap this one up, too. But McCammon also lost readers with these novels because in them he turned away from the horror themes that made his reputation. This latest could well gain him new fans, but it won't win back any horror readers.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

After a ten-year absence from publishing, McCammon (Boy's Life) returns with this historical novel of colonial Carolina. In 1699, legal clerk Matthew Corbett accompanies magistrate Isaac Woodward to Fount Royal, where he has been summoned to decide whether a witch is living in the newly established settlement. The two are immediately thrown into danger, even before they reach the town. And once there, they must deal with the inhabitants, some of whom stand to gain if Rachel, the accused, is executed. Soon it becomes obvious to Matthew that everyone has secrets, even the magistrate. In the end, he alone must try to unravel the mysteries. While many of McCammon's prior novels dealt with the supernatural, his latest contains horrors that are more real. McCammon also provides extensive historical detail, re-creating the legal procedures, medical practices, and everyday existence of the time. The language and situations are often disturbing, especially because many of the accusations against Rachel are sexual in nature, but McCammon tells a compelling story that should find a wide readership. Highly recommended for popular fiction collections. Joel W. Tscherne, Cleveland P.L.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome return for a great horror writer June 1 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have always maintained that there are three great modern American horror writers: Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Robert McCammon. King and Straub, of course, have been churning out books of varying quality for the last twenty-five years - but McCammon inexplicably vanished from the scene ten years ago and hasn't been heard from.
Until now.
And he marks his return with a different kind of horror story. At the turn of the 18th century a magistrate and his clerk ride toward a recently established village in the Carolinas to deal with a charge of witchcraft. But all is not as it seems. I won't spoil the plot except to say that if you're a McCammon fan this novel is not what you're expecting; but it's great nonetheless.
If you haven't realized it already this novel has been split into two separate books. Part I is titled "Judgement of the Witch" and part II is "Evil Unveiled". The two books need to be read in order to avoid any confusion.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is not Swan Song or Boy's Life but it's still a great read! I wish it was on Kindle.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! Feb. 15 2012
Format:Hardcover
Très bon livre.L`auteur nous livre une bonne histoire bien racontée et bien menée sur fond historique.C`est le début des enquêtes d`un nouveau personnage Matthew Corbett.
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5.0 out of 5 stars SUFFER NOT THE WITCH... Dec 18 2006
By Lawyeraau TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Having read "Swan Song", a fantastic novel by this author in the horror genre, I was surprised to see that he had turned his hand to historical fiction. Since it is one of my favorite genres, I decided to take a chance and read it. Well, I was not disappointed. This is a well-executed work of historical fiction. It is clear that the author did his research, as the book is steeped in period detail. Moreover, the dialogue rings true, and the characters are well-developed. The author vividly depicts the setting about which he is writing, weaving a tapestry of events that rivets the reader to the pages of this book until the last one is turned.

The setting for the story is colonial America, at the very end of the seventeenth century. It appears that the swampy town of Fount Royal in the Carolinas is having its share of troubles, which range from crop failures to murder. The citizens have decided that witchcraft is afoot, and they believe that Rachel Howarth, the beautiful and exotic looking widow of one of the recently murdered men, is the witch that is causing all their troubles. They have thrown her into the town's jail to await trial by the territory's magistrate, Isaac Woodward.

Assisted by his very capable and highly intelligent clerk, Matthew Corbett, the Magistrate presides over the trial. Matthew, however, believes Rachel to be innocent, despite the mounting evidence against her. So, he decides to make some independent inquiries of his own in order to ascertain exactly what is afoot in Fount Royal. What he discovers is certainly evil, but it is a miasma of evil not of the kind derived from supernatural portents. There is more going on behind the scenes in Fount Royal than one would ever have bargained for.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Creepy Slice of Americana April 28 2004
By Rafik
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Vol 2. Evil Unveiled is the 2nd half of Speaks the Nightbird. Vol 1. Judgement of the Witch, was the first half. Both books are the wonderful recent additions from the fabulous mind of Robert McCammon. A sordid look at America's past. Particularly the during the time of the Witch hunts in the 1600's. An excellent mystery is underfoot when an innocent woman is charged for the crime of Witchcraft. A young law clerk (filling-in for the ailing Judge Woodward) is faced with discovering the truth. During which time (no pun intended), the bodies start to drop. The writing style and the characters are well drawn and memorable. Makes you truly appreaciate the concept of "innocent until proven guilty." Enjoy! P.S. this book reminds me of John Barth's "The Sot Weed Factor." Also a great read, very satirical.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Historical Mystery in Horror's Clothing April 26 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The second volume is more enjoyable than the first, because our suspicions of the genre have been confirmed: this isn't horror fiction, this is a mystery novel in the cosy Agatha Christie vein (once you look past the very rare examples of sadistic violence).
In Volume One the characters and situation were established (I'd said of the first half that it "essentially parades its whodunnit-style suspects before us,") and in Volume Two the red herrings are dealt with by our intrepid detective hero, as he works his way toward discovering the real killer.
McCammon is, as always, a graceful and articulate writer, and this is a satisfying conclusion to his novel--particularly enjoyable, once the reader settles into the genre, is his occasional subverting of expectations. One can easily imagine further volumes, should McCammon decide to make his hero a recurring detective, and I'd look forward to them (I don't know of any circa 1700 detectives in New York, but it would be a fun read!)
Note: This is really about a 3 and a half starrer for me--a 3 star ranking from me is actually fairly good, I reserve 4 stars for tremendously good works, and 5 only for the rare few that are or ought to be classic; unfortunately most books published are 2 or less.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Witchcraft
This was a very long book but worth every page. It was my first book by Mr McCammon but, I'm sure, not my last.
The author can weave a tale! Read more
Published on Feb. 9 2005 by Susie Sharon
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome return for a great horror writer
I have always maintained that there are three great modern American horror writers: Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Robert McCammon. Read more
Published on June 1 2004 by William Sugarman
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 and a half stars, to be more accurate
Poor Robert McCammon--he's so good at his best (Boy's Life) that when he falls somewhat short of his own, very high bar, he gets faulted for it. Read more
Published on April 16 2004 by Ashley Lambert-Maberly
5.0 out of 5 stars This books was AWESOME
I've always like Robert McCammon books and up until now had determined that Swan Song was my all time favorite of his. Not any longer.... Read more
Published on April 12 2004 by JAMIE MCCAULEY
2.0 out of 5 stars Hugely Disappointing!!!
I've been a fan of Robert McCammon since the beginning -- I even liked his clinkers like Baal and Nightboat. He's a terrific writer. Read more
Published on April 8 2004 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Characters, Not a Horror Book Though
I've been a McCammon fan for many years now, and I found his Speaks the Nightbird to be an interesting piece of fiction... Read more
Published on March 17 2004 by David
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good!
It's hard to articulate and put in perspective these two books (really one book just split up) because if I compare it to Swan Song or Boy's Life.. Read more
Published on March 11 2004
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