The Carolinas, 1699. The newly founded town of Fount Royal is facing a rash of disasters - murders, arsons, failed crops, illness. In desperation, the...moreThe 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 Rachel’s 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. (view spoiler)[Pirate treasure and hypnotism? Are you kidding? (hide spoiler)] I read 900+ pages for that ridiculous conclusion? I feel so cheated. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The style of "Rebecca" has echoes of Austen and the Brontës, yet it is also remarkably modern and it is apparent the influence du Maurier had on futur...moreThe style of "Rebecca" has echoes of Austen and the Brontës, yet it is also remarkably modern and it is apparent the influence du Maurier had on future writers and the evolution of the novel. Du Maurier excelled at adhering to the gothic formula and the writing is descriptive and evocative. However, I was not as enamored with “Rebecca” as many readers are, and I only gave the book 3.5 Stars.
My primary problem with the novel is how intensely I disliked the unnamed narrator. While I understand that, in the gothic tradition, she needed to be naïve and helpless, I thought that du Maurier took this to extremes. The narrator is timid, pessimistic, fretful, and insecure. She constantly daydreams about what could have been and what might be, and does so with the gloomiest of perspectives. And she remains this way throughout the book, without evolving and maturing at all.
The other fault I found in the novel was lack of character motivation. From the very beginning, with the courtship and proposal, I was baffled. I never sensed that they were falling in love, and there really wasn’t any logical reason for Max to propose or for the narrator to accept. And when it is finally revealed what happened to Rebecca, Max’s role in that event seemed totally out of character. Throughout the book, he was cold and stuffy, so it was difficult to accept that he did something so furiously passionate.
Although “Rebecca” did not make my list of all-time favorites, du Maurier is obviously a talented writer whose works have stood the test of time, so I do plan to read more of her books. (less)