Top of the list
When Matthew realizes his developing attachment to Rachel.
The confrontation with Mr. Johnstone in the study.
The characters became so alive to me that I could almost envision them. The storyline made me laugh, angry, frustrated, and completely drew me into it.
Reader, Listener, Optimist
The author freely mixes bits of modern parlance with his overuse of contrived Dickensian language. He wallows in the vernacular of the time, trying to convey a sense of life in 1699 America, but ultimately, the overuse is a distraction. Why say something plainly when you can force layers of awkward similes to make it sound "authentic". Edoardo Ballerini delivers this babble well, but he is unable to salvage the author's exuberance for flowery gibberish.
McCammon's attempts at eroticism come off as unfortunate and gratuitous sexual exploitation of his readers/listeners that would likely drive even Ken Follett to rethink what he believes the average reader secretly desires. McCammon is willing, even eager, to put a tawdry spin on nearly everything his poor characters do. After so much grungy titillation threatens the morality of his characters, his credibility takes a serious hit.
And when considering his trustworthiness as an author of historical fiction, his cavalier use of artistic license has to be challenged. His fact checking becomes secondary to inadvertently painting an inaccurate, but convenient portrait of life in the colonies. As a small example, the place where a blacksmith works is a smithy and he is referred to as a smith, not the other way round. The inaccuracies are troubling and they become such a distraction, that they undermine the strengths that an otherwise good story might have capitalized on.
Reading was one of the best I have heard. I was wrapped up in the story in no time at all
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
This was a most unexpected surprise. I selected the book because of the narrator - Edoardo Ballerini - and the amazing job he did with "Beautiful Ruins." He does an equally superb job with this book ... a dark, historical thriller.
If you want to pick it apart, you can. Historically speaking, it's flawed. For mystery readers in general, there's no surprise in the end. But none of that matters. This book has a distinct pace and storyline - one that moves along and takes you for quite a ride. It is perhaps one of the best one-credit values on Audible.
I was reminded of a couple other books while I was listening. The comparison to Gabaldon's "Outlander" series is inevitable. There are similar characteristics. If you combined that with "Fingersmith" and "Mistress of the Art of Death," you have some idea of what it's like. Dark, grisly and utterly compelling.
Another reviewer said this book was like Outlander. I seriously disagree with that. It was an interesting tale but nothing like Outlander. I found little difference between the depictions of the characters of the towns people, the story dragged on far too long and not always believable. Not bad, i was just expecting better.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
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 Villagers_. There's a _Too-Smart-For-His-Britches Young Man_ who suspects that _Something Fishy Is Going On_ and applies _Logic and Reason_ to the situation. There's a _By-the-Book Judge_. There are _Helpful, Earthy Indians_ and negro slaves. There are several characters who are _Not What They Seem_. There are _Convenient Coincidences_.
While I expect novelists to take creative liberties with historical accuracy, there are so many flagrant anachronisms here, it gets a bit ridiculous. For example, not only does one character say to another, "put that in your pipe and smoke it", but there's actually a scene where two characters light up some joints. I wouldn't have been surprised, at that point, if they'd wheeled out a steampunk microwave and cooked some burritos. Where McCammon does get in some plausible detail, there's rarely a sense that his research went much deeper than the level needed for a theme park.
I wouldn't go so far as to call this novel TERRIBLE; the characters, despite their cliche, are well-drawn. The first half of the book is reasonably entertaining. The author seems to mean well. But, I'm bumping what might have been a three star rating down to a two because the resolution to the mystery was so phoned in. If all you care about in an audiobook is that it provide diversion during your commute to work, Speaks the Nightbird might be worth your while, but if you're looking for any kind of complexity or depth, it's thoroughly mediocre.
I can't fault audiobook narrator Edoardo Ballerini for his performance, though. He does as capable a job with the material as can be expected.
Addicted to Audible!
This is a book that grabs your attention from beginning to end! A wonderful historical novel that features all kinds of interesting characters, situations and details. It is never slow or boring. It has great,well crafted characters. The details of daily life, medical treatments, food, law, religious beliefs, witchcraft,slavery, piracy, etc were all fascinating. The murder mystery was surprising and built tension throughout the story. It did not have a predictable ending. Edoardo Ballerini is an amazing talent, I have not listened to anything he has read that didnt keep me mesmerized by the sound of his voice. I was sorry when this book ended and hope to find another by this author.
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (historical mystery) - Speaks the Nightbird is a great book. The main plot line follows a witch trial to its conclusion. It's interesting to see how it unfolds -- the investigation, the trial and learning the beliefs/motives of those involved. There are lots of characters and lots of clues, but it's still very easy to keep things straight. Don't try to figure out the ending because you probably won't be able to.
The book has some very dark characters and some very endearing ones. The main character, Matthew, grows from a young adult to a mature one during the span of the story. I really liked the way the author addressed his relationship with the accused witch.
I considered rating the book a 5 but made deductions for three small things: (1) a few scenes make me wonder about the sexual inclinations of the author, (2) some scenes were too dark and/or gross for my taste, and (3) even though it's never, ever boring, it's bit long for my personal taste.
PERFORMANCE - Wow! Wonderful expression, timing, foreign accents, perfect portrayal of an evangelist and a character on his deathbed. I'm going to check for more books read by this talented narrator.
OVERALL - (Actual rating 4.5) I've read some harsh complaints about this book, but I found it thoroughly enjoyable and recommend it highly. There is sex, language and some gore, though, so it might not be for those who are sensitive.
Say something about yourself!
I don't remember the last time I enjoyed listening to a novel this much. I got drawn in as soon as the magistrate and his clerk got to Fount Royal to investigate and determine the fate of a woman accused of witchcraft. This was 1699, and it didn't take but a few loose accusations to condemn a woman to be burned at the stake. Unfortunately, mob mentality takes over too easily when there are a few people encouraging their fears.
It's not about the witch----this is a story about what happens when evil wins if good men do nothing. In this novel we have a very good man--the clerk Matthew Corbett who assists the magistrate Isaac Woodward. Is the beautiful Rachel a witch, or the target of nasty gossiping women? Or is there another reason she has become the focus for all the evil acts which threaten to bring down this new town? The author masterfully keeps us guessing until the end.
A complex story with suspects galore! Matthew in his quiet, soft spoken manner, goes about investigating on his own when the magistrate falls ill. He is steadfast in his determination, yet never lets anger or frustration interfere with his goal.
A small caution for the squeamish--there are some graphic bloody scenes and some explicit sexual language (including people and animals) -however, these types of acts probably are true to that period and as such - are not inappropriate.
- - - -and what is it about that voice of Edoardo Ballerini that makes it possible to listen for hours without ever tiring of it? Truly one of the best narrators on Audible.
This was a good book, not great. There were periods where the story dragged but they were not so long that the could not be surmounted and the story itself was sufficient to keep me going. It could definitely have been improved by shaving a few hours from its 30-hour length though.
If Mr. McCammon would remove some of the more graphic sexual scenes, both human and non-human, he may have a very good YA novel on his hands. Besides these scenes, and some of fairly graphic violence, the book reads much like YA fiction, which is not necessarily a negative. I enjoyed reading and listening to both the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series and have no qualms about admitting it. However, it almost seems as if Mr. McCammon realized that his work was somewhat on the YA side and added these scenes so as to avoid such categorization. While some of the scenes were helpful in casting light on the particulars of the case being pursued in "Speaks the Nightbird," others seemed, at best, superfluos--particularly the scene between the blacksmith and the object of his affection.
Overall, I would suggest this book to anyone desiring to receive a long book for their credit and something light that requires little strain of the intellectual muscle. It was enjoyable enough and I don't regret the use of a credit on the book but I won't pursue the rest of the series with any urgency either.
Also, if you are easily offended by graphic sex and violence I would suggest looking elsewhere.