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Speaks the Nightbird [Hardcover]

Robert R. McCammon
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 30.59 & 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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Customer Reviews

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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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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4.0 out of 5 stars 3 and a half stars, to be more accurate April 16 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
Others have recounted the plot. What's good about this book is he doesn't patronize his audience with lengthy exposition regarding its historical setting, he expects his readers to be literate and well-educated; he has a whiz-bang opening to get you into his story (and it's needed, as the story drags in the middle of volume one, which essentially parades its whodunnit-style suspects before us); he's a graceful and articulate writer.
The characters could be a little more compelling, the emotional stakes a little higher, but it's a good read once you commit to it. If you enjoy McCammon, you know you'll like this well enough--and if you've never read him, this isn't a bad place to begin; see if you like it, and know that greater delights await.
Note: 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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2.0 out of 5 stars Hugely Disappointing!!! April 8 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. Unfortunately, this latest effort is sub par for him.
I don't know if he's just rusty or if he's trying to stretch too hard to break into a new genre (since there was tremendous resistance from his editors and the publishing world in general to having him write anything other than horror) but Speaks the Nightbird is just awful! The author tries to use the vernacular of the time, but he fails in some spots and it's distracting to the narrative. But more than that, the plot creeps along at a snail's pace -- I was horrified at the end of the book to find out that there was actually a SECOND novel to read to complete the story!! That wouldn't have actually been a bad thing if the first volume ended with some sort of cliffhanger or climax -- no such luck. It just meanders along aimlessly and then the reader is surprised with an end note encouraging them to buy the second volume to find out what happens! If the book was originally meant to be 1100 pages, then it should have been published as such. What a disappointment -- I can't believe I waited 10 years for this.
Just terribly disappointing in every aspect.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Characters, Not a Horror Book Though March 17 2004
By David
Format:Hardcover
I've been a McCammon fan for many years now, and I found his Speaks the Nightbird to be an interesting piece of fiction...not really horror or supernatural as I was expecting, but definitely full of great characters and humor too.
I was disappointed that this read more like a murder mystery, but the way it unfolded, with each individual somehow connected to each other like a chain, was spellbinding. You just had to keep reading to find out how each individual had secrets. Without giving a lot of spoilers away, I'd say that you'd be hard-pressed to find such a variety of personalities and hidden secrets in a town as small as Fount Royal. From the uh, amorous Blacksmith to the pimp-like Preacher, from the beautiful accused witch to the Magistrate and his inquisitive young assistant, the characters each held their individuality while contributing to the entire story...much like instruments in a symphony. My only comment is that this symphony's music should have been a little more horrific and supernatural...as I was really expecting there would be...but in the end, the harmony plays out just fine.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
delivered as promised
Published 15 days ago by Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars ... should have realized that his talent transcends and I enjoyed this...
I am a fan of his previous works I was unsure about this series but I should have realized that his talent transcends and I enjoyed this book immensely. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Tresha Holmes
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book....as I have loved McCammon in the past
It is not Swan Song or Boy's Life but it's still a great read! I wish it was on Kindle.
Published 11 months ago by Morticia Adams
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Très bon livre.L`auteur nous livre une bonne histoire bien racontée et bien menée sur fond historique. Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2012 by Ben Mears
5.0 out of 5 stars SUFFER NOT THE WITCH...
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. Read more
Published on Dec 18 2006 by Lawyeraau
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 A Creepy Slice of Americana
Vol 2. Evil Unveiled is the 2nd half of Speaks the Nightbird. Vol 1. Judgement of the Witch, was the first half. Read more
Published on April 28 2004 by Rafik
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 11 2004 by JAMIE MCCAULEY
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