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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  ·  4,537 ratings  ·  542 reviews
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 con ...more
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 McCammonSpeaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammon
Best of Robert McCammon
5th out of 20 books — 43 voters
The Shining by Stephen KingIt by Stephen King'Salem's Lot by Stephen KingDracula by Bram StokerPet Sematary by Stephen King
Best Horror Novels
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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

The interview with the accused witch is intense. Wow. The author knows how to make a story compelling.

mage: description

This book was extremely well written and professional. Clearly this is writing in the hands of a master. Matthew Corbin, a young scribe, accompanies a magistrate to a settlement in North America that is barely getting on its feet and is dealing with a woman accused of satanism and witchcraft.
Matthew quickly decides she is innocent, but there may be another witch in town. The suspense is
This first rate murder mystery is damned near perfect!

McCammon conjures an imaginary village that lives and breathes and seethes with a fear of supernatural forces. His characters, even the minor players, are richly drawn, complicated souls, many holding secret identities and unusual peccadilloes.

Bombastic preacher, Exodus Jerusalem, a lecherous holy crusader who seeks to cure witches with his "mighty sword" and a "laying on of hands" is a new favorite character for me. It is hinted that he may
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
Richard Vialet
People who sometimes pay attention to my humble opinions here on Goodreads might guess that Robert McCammon’s Matthew Corbett series is possibly my favorite detective series. But, sadly it seems like it’s still a bit underrated. I think it’s one of the most consistently enjoyable book series and full of fantastic entertainment.

This book is where it all begins, originally conceived as a historical mystery standalone in two parts. It takes place in 1699, and introduces one of my favorite book char
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
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
Nov 23, 2014 Zoeytron rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Zoeytron by: Gary
Shelves: favorites
The year is 1699 and something wicked is afoot in the town of Fount Royal, a cunning evil with Satan's fingermarks all over it. We journey back to the days of witch trials, rat catchers, bloodletting, heated blister cups, and crude colonics.

Only three books into Robert McCammon's repertoire, I am amazed at his versatility. This foray into historical fiction with a dark mystery brewing is fantastic. Top 10 shelf material.
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)
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
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
Heads up: Available for $4.95 on audible until February 7th as part of their "Discover a New Series" sale (seemed like a good deal, given the rave reviews).

Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost Whisper
Speaks the Nightbird, by Robert McCammon turned out to be a delightful historical mystery and suspense thriller. We follow Matthew Corbett as he chases tales of witches and demons and other things unnatural to men through Front Royal South Carolina.

To truly embrace the Nightbird one must embrace the night itself.

Our hero, Crobett turned out to be a bright and courageous lad in his 20s that reminded me of a younger and much more robust Sherlock Holmes with less intellectual acuity, but plenty
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:
It was a magnificent read. The year 1699, subject Witch Hunting. A horrifying subject, but one which has intrigued humanity from the time of its conception. I have just heard of the Salem witch trial, have no idea as to the actual events, and this book kept mentioning it in a couple of places. I thoroughly enjoyed the story involving, Matthew, a 20 year old bright guy rescued from the poor house at the age of 15 by Woodward, a magistrate of Charles Town, a relatively new settlement colony, who m ...more
This is my third book by Mr McCammon and again I am in awe of him. Like the other two this one too is written beautifully.

Magistrate Isaac Woodward and his clerk Matthew are called for to investigate the charges of witchcraft and murder against Rachel Howarth in small town of Fount Royal. During the trial witnesses told Isaac and Woodward about how they’d seen many sexual encounters including Rachel and her master, Satan. And how Satan was commanding them not to hurt Rachel or there would be dir
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
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
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.

" 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
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
Robert McCammon has some serious skills. The dude can flat out write a fantastic story. Vivid characters, solid plotting and elegant (and at times vulgar) prose make this one shine. I did not read a single word about this one before I started and even went as far as to avoid the synopsis. (OK, I did see quite a few 5 star ratings from my GR friends, but avoided reading the reviews) I thought the 1699 setting was going to bog me down, but even with the language of the time period, McCammon someho ...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
The world of Matthew Corbett, is both fascinating and wonder filled; as well as, superstitious and dangerous. Filled with all the excitement and possibility of the new world, Matthew learns to make his way in this fragile setting.

The story takes place shortly after the Salem witch trials and society has not yet learned the error of their ways. Deception is everywhere in Fort Royal a new settlement founded on the edge of Indian territory. It seems they have a witch, but they are not going to give
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 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
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 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
"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
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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 fifth book in the Matthew Corbett historical fiction series is The River of Souls. It was published by Subterranean Press in trade, limited, and
More about Robert McCammon...

Other Books in the Series

Matthew Corbett (5 books)
  • The Queen of Bedlam (Matthew Corbett, #2)
  • Mister Slaughter (Matthew Corbett, #3)
  • The Providence Rider (Matthew Corbett, #4)
  • The River of Souls (Matthew Corbett, #5)
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