Speaks the Nightbird (Matthew Corbett, #1)
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Speaks the Nightbird (Matthew Corbett #1)

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  3,603 ratings  ·  444 reviews

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 Isaac Woodward, aided by his astute young clerk, Matthew Corbett. Believing in Rachel's innocenc

Paperback, 816 pages
Published July 17th 2007 by Gallery Books (first published September 1st 2002)
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Swan Song by Robert McCammonBoy's Life by Robert McCammonThe Wolf's Hour by Robert McCammonThey Thirst by Robert McCammonStinger by Robert McCammon
Best of Robert McCammon
6th out of 19 books — 37 voters
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Community Reviews

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Titus Burley
Somehow McCammon slipped through the mass popularity cracks back in the horror heyday of the 80's. Despite writing many of the best genre novels of that era (and certainly the definitive werewolf novel ever written, "The Wolf's Hour"), he never achieved the cult status of King, Koontz, or Rice. Those who read him were avid fans and I remember the early 90's word of mouth buzz that passed from devotees in used bookstores. "If you like horror, you gotta read McCammon." Then came "Boy's Life", a bo...more
David Sven
A historical mystery/suspense set in British America, South Carolina, 1699.

Magistrate Isaac Woodward and his young charge and clerk (our protagonist) Matthew Corbett, are sent for from Charleston to preside over a witch trial in the fledgling frontier settlement of Fount Royal. Matthew, with an unusually keen mind, soon discerns that not all is as it seems as he asks questions nobody seems able or willing to answer. Driven by insatiable curiosity and tenacious inquisitiveness, coupled with an in...more
Only Robert McCammon could have written such a wonderful tale. McCammon portrays an extremely intriguing mystery involving a witch trial in 1699 Carolinas. It would infuriate you towards the superstition and ignorance of the times. Should I have been a time traveler, I doubt if I would have ventured into the 17th century world. No, thank you.

Matthew Corbett (the protagonist) is the clerk of magistrate Woodward who is conducting the trial of Rachel Howarth accused of being a witch. Only Matthew b...more
Jan 24, 2013 Laura rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People not bothered by bestiality and lots of crude sexual references
Ok I made it to p 404 so I'm calling this read. At times I loved this book. It became obvious early on that the author is a man having a midlife crisis who clearly isn't getting his bedroom needs met. Sadly, I've seen this enough in books that wound up being salvageable that I'd decided to look past it, because the pages kept turning.

However, at some point, one has to draw a line. I'm very disappointed with this author's choice to include (view spoiler)...more
Benjamin Thomas
I am new to the author, Robert McCammon, but he came highly recommended from another blog I follow so I thought it worthwhile to give him a shot. The results? Speaks the Nightbird will be a very strong competitor for my best-of-the-year list and now that I think about it, will probably make my best-of-all time reading list.

Yes, it's that good.

This is an historical novel set in the Carolina territory in 1699. Mathew Corbett is a clerk to a magestrate (judge) based in Charles Town and together the...more
Best book I have read in the past few years. Unputdownable. I kept saying to myself - just one more chapter....
To top it all off I normally don't read books that are 800 pages long. This story just whizzed by and I couldn't believe it was over so quickly. It didn't feel long at all, in fact, I was sad it ended and really look forward to reading more stories of Matthew Corbett.
If this book were a movie I could see Benedict Cumberbatch playing the role of Matthew. Also, I enjoyed the historical...more
Apr 05, 2014 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: widows accused of witchcraft, curious clerks, sinister schoolmasters, horse-lovin' colonists
Robert McCammon is better known as a horror author, and he brings his horror-novelist sensibility to this big, thick historical novel: it's gritty and dark and full of bloodshed and perversion, kind of schlocky and gratuitous in places (like the almost irrelevant subplot about the dude who really, really loves his horse...), and yet entertaining enough to keep me going through the entire massive length of it.

Matthew Corbett, our protagonist, is accompanying his employer, Magistrate Isaac Woodwar...more
I read this with two of my GR friends. We all gave up before finishing it. We all dumped it. One of us read over 400 pages and even at that point decided it had to be heaved! I read 7 chapters and the other friend read 6 chapters. I think this gives a clear message as to the value of this book.

We have discussed the book in the comments below. Let me make a quick summary. The writing and the events that the author lines up are extremely crude, salacious and incredible. Incredible in two ways:
Just once I would like to see a man fight to save an ugly woman. Even a sort of average, non-mysterious woman would be nice. He doesn't even have to fall in love with her.

If I had known that Robert McCammon was typically grouped with Steven King, Dean Koontz, and the rest of that gang, I probably would never have read this book. I love historical fiction, especially about witch trials, but this feels like a modern thriller plopped in the middle of 1699. There were anachronisms galore and try as...more
Stephen King says: "Given Rick McCammon's ten-year silence, I was curious about NIGHTBIRD...eager for a new dose of one of America's truly fine story-tellers...delighted it was a BIG dose...and nervous, too. 'Cause writing novels is NOT like riding a bike--you can forget how to do it. Twenty pages in, I forgot everything but the book itself.

"...an excellent story, full of tension and suspense...

"Speaks the Nightbird is a rarity in popular fiction, a book that manages to be thoughtful as well as...more
Rick Hautala
All I will say is: This is THE BEST book I've read in the last ten years. Period.

Okay. Here's more ...

SPEAKS THE NIGHTBIRD is amazing! The plot is tense and keeps escalating with amazing--and believable--twists and turns. And Mr. McCammon ties up … and unties … all the knots so there are no loose ends. And what a satisfying, touching ending it is! No spoiler alert, but the farewells to characters you have come to admire, respect, and--yes, love are heart-wrenching.

The characters are distinctiv...more
Timothy Dalton
This book was outright amazing, the only comparison I can draw for this novel would be something like Law & Order: Witch Trials. Thereby seeing the first lines of the novel indicating the location in the Carolinas, I hear the distinctive DUN! DUN! in my head just thinking about it. There is definitely some shady dealings going on in the town of Fount Royal where an accused witch is on trial and the one and only penalty for cavorting with the Devil is death by flames. For a town that deems it...more
Arah-Leah Hay
I was a huge McCammon fan as a teenager. I think I read all of his books during my high school years. I never thought about why I stopped reading his work; but perhaps it was because he stopped writing for about 10 years. This was his big return after that break and after twenty years this is my return to an all time favorite author. Well, hats off Mr. McCammon; you don't disappoint. Not only did you return with a large novel but a saga as well, not to mention that it's historical fiction instea...more
I couldn't put this large book down and got through it in a record time for me (I'm a very thorough reader). I loved spending time with these characters, and I loved the atmosphere and setting. This has elements of historical fiction but I got the feeling Mr McCammon was more interested in creating interesting and amusing (and evil!) characters rather than being slavish to the trappings of 1699 America... Which IMO served this book well. It's not the most sophisticated of historical murder myste...more
I had been looking forward to reading this for some time. Speaks the Nightbird heralded Robert McCammon's return to writing after a 10-year absence, and there was much rejoycing amongst readers.

I must say I was very entertained, for pretty much the full 2-volumes of this story. With the exception of some modern figures of speech, I felt quite immersed in the 1699 Carolinas. It's interesting and disturbing to be reminded of the attitudes towards witchcraft. A highly educated man such as our magis...more
Ken McKinley
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 quic...more
Darren G. Burton
Sep 03, 2008 Darren G. Burton rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Darren by: Me - I've always been a McCammon fan
In a word - Superb. I've been a fan of Robert McCammon since his horror novel days in the 80s and 90s. For a long time he disappeared off the scene, only to return a decade or so later with this gem. Anyone who loves an epic tale of mystery and intrigue set against a dazzling and raw historic background will love this one.
I got through to the end of this one more out of dogged commitment to finishing a book than from thinking it was very good. While the story is entertaining enough in a "fun mystery to read at the beach" sense, it's filled with pretty much every predictable trope you can think of for a novel set in the American Colonies in 1699. There's an _Accused Witch Who Isn't Really a Witch_. There's a _Pompous, Self-Interested Town Father_. There's a _Firebrand Preacher_. There are some _Pitchfork-Waving Vi...more
"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."

I absolutely loved this book! A suspenseful mystery that really brings the tim...more
Besides the witty banter, the emotional interplay between individuals, the biting humor, and the fantastic mystery woven by Robert McCammon, the narrator, Edoardo Ballerini, brings to life a whole cast of lively characters in the most believable way. One finds oneself plunked right down in early America of the late 17th century, authentically slogging through the grime and filth and alternatively enjoying the benefits of a gentleperson’s life. It’s impossible to choose a favorite characterizatio...more
Speaks the Nightbird is a surprisingly excellent novel by Robert McCammon. Perhaps I should explain why I say "surprisingly."

I have read a lot of McCammon, almost all of it pre-21th century. In fact, McCammon stopped writing in 1992 and didn't return to writing until 2002 when this novel was published. The author is always entertaining. However his earlier works were often derivative. So much so that there was was a rather cruel joke going around in the horror fan circles of early eighties...

Lori Anderson
Mar 01, 2012 Lori Anderson rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Stephen King fans, interests in witch trials
I love Robert McCammon so when I got into a conversation with a fellow GoodReads.com book-lover, I decided to search out some titles I may have missed.

"Speaks the Nightbird" is a nice, thick book - just the kind I like. It's rich in characters and plot development, and there are twists to the plot just when you think all has settled down.

The book is set in 1699, on the cusp of a new century when people in the New World are wondering if the next 100 years will be full of wonder or full of fires...more
Randolph Carter
A rolicking good read. As usual the characters are what stand out in a McCammon novel, be it supernatural or otherwise. We've got witches, warlocks, imps, pirates, murderers, and savages but nary a whiff of the supernatural here. McCammon gives us a well plotted and suspenseful mystery on top of a good deal of moralization and pathos in the end, but it's all good fun for the 800 pages.
I don't usually read mystery. Had I known going in that was going to be a mystery, I might have passed it over. I'm glad I didn't know. I enjoyed this mystery set in 1699 in which a colonial magistrate and his clerk preside over the trial of a woman accused of witchcraft including multiple cases of murder, perverted acts and arson. I listened to the audio version of this novel, read by Edoardo Balleri, who gave voice to the characters wonderfully.

I have only one bone to pick -- and that is the...more
Baal Of
This was the selection for the last 2 months of my horror book club, and despite this being not really horror, and being more of a historical fiction which isn't one of my favored genres, I absolutely loved this book. The characters were well fleshed out, multi-dimensional, and believable. They were widely varied without being obvious tropes. The description of the world in that time seemed very true to what I understand of American history, especially the way that evidence was treated in the co...more
Great story, wonderful characters! A captivating read!!!
A lot of this review is just my thoughts while listening to the book…

This book was so hard to put down between the great story and fabulous narration by Edoardo Ballerini I wanted the world to go away so I just listen without interruptions.

There were times this book made my blood boil , these sickening men the way they treated and talked to Rachel and she just had to take it but I loved that the author let us know that our champion Matthew was feeling the same way right along with me! Matthew is...more
This is a very entertaining pseudo-historical novel about a witch trial in the Carolinas in the late 17th century. More accurately, it's about the stuggles of a small, fledgling colonial town as it wrestles with the impending witch trial and the supposed witch jailed therein. A young upstart lawyer believes the witch's innocence and provides the necessary contrast to the pigheaded townsfolk and to his mentor, the old traditionalist magistrate, who is trying to run everything by the book. Ultimat...more
Linda Hali
Alongside my new favorite book ( See The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break) I got this novel as a Halloween 2-fer. It was on my list anyway. It's has been an engrossing addicting read/listen- although I am not sure if that is because it was a good book or a terrificly intense narrator. Overall- it needed a good edit-sections were to long and repetitive, It could have ended several times I felt, and been complete as a novel. Evil tavern keepers, savages in the woods, a one eyed mythic bear, bluste...more
Speaks the Nightbird, Speaks Robert McCammon! The novel 'Speaks the Nightbird' celebrates McCammons' return to the big publishing game after nearly a decade of silence when his contract with the previous publisher was terminated, and what a lovely celebration it it.
The novel that is classified as a historical mystery is actually a book that defies and expands the constraints of this genre. This is the third McCammon's novel that I have read, and he is yet to disappoint me. This delightful nov...more
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Robert Rick McCammon was a full-time horror writer for many years. After taking a hiatus for his family, he returned to writing with an interest in historical fiction.

A new contemporary novel, The Five, was published in May 2011 by Subterranean Press.

The Hunter from the Woods, a collection of novellas and stories featuring Michael Gallatin, the main character from The Wolf's Hour, was published as...more
More about Robert McCammon...
Swan Song Boy's Life The Wolf's Hour They Thirst Mine

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