Audie Award Nominee, Fiction, 2013
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....
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.
©2002 Robert McCammon (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
“Edoardo Ballerini performs this story of accusation and fear flawlessly. He effortlessly switches his pitch, accents, and timbre to suit the unfortunate Rachel Howarth, the endless curious Corbett, and the various determined characters, good and evil.” (AudioFile)
"a compelling story that should find a wide readership. Highly recommended for popular fiction collections." (Library Journal)
"An excellent story, full of tension and suspense.” (Stephen King)
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.
I read a lot of historical mysteries and I expect a lot. This book supplies it - accurate period detail, complex mystery, surprising twists and turns; but what made this stand out for me is the protagonist, Matthew Corbett. Robert McCammon actually put a heart and mind into Matthew Corbett, the "detective" of the story. He runs into his share of villains, but not every single person is rotten to the core (another one of my pet peeves. How can every single person be sick and twisted? Every single one?)
McCammon gave me every reason to keep rooting for Matthew, even when I thought he was making a terrible mistake. See what I mean? That's a protagonist.
What a great story, but just too long ! Epic length, adventures galore, some over-the-top violence and abherrent behavior, legal drama (circa 1699), "witchcraft", Indians, pirates treasure, romance.....gee, did I leave anything off the list ? Yes, the book has just about every plot element needed for a good story, but it might be a little too much. The narration was fantastic !
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
The overall premise of Speaks the Nightbird and the underlying story is a good one, but it was ruined for me by 1) the obsessive need for adding unnecessary deviant sexual content AND 2) it was way too long. It could have been told in less time and been a better story. I am a big fan of historical fiction. This one ran off the tracks with distracting side stories. The mystery of what was happening in the town and tale of the witch being held in the jail for execution could have been and should have been told much more tastefully. The narration was first rate.
Obviously several people liked it from the reviews. I love historical fiction but was not impressed with this one. I bought it because of the favorable reviews. Guess my taste is different from most of the other reviewers.
No. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.
Loved the magistrate. Such a sad character. Did not like what happened to him.
I just did not like the resolution to the plot. I had to make myself finish the book. Once the magistrate was out of the picture, I didn't really care what happened.
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
IT IS THE PARTICULARS THAT MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
After reading Swan Song, I wanted more of McCammon. This is a lot different then Swan Song and a lot the same. Both books are timepieces and both books are dark. Both books have well developed characters, such as Exodus Jerusalem, a PSEUDO HOLLY IMBECILE, with A TALENT FOR PAINTING HORNY PICTURES. In both books I felt like I was there. Both books are long, yet you want to continue to listen, as you want to know how it ends. Both books have very gory scenes and graphic sex scenes. Swan Song is a huge fantasy novel and this is a Agatha Christie type mystery.
YOU WANT TO BLAME ANYONE, GO SPEAK TO A MIRROR.
I am more of a Sci-Fi/Fantasy person, so I enjoyed Swan Song much better. This still earned four stars and I listened to all 30+ hours. I have a short attention span, so any book I stay with for this long has to be good. I did find my mind wondering at times, even in anticipated parts. I remember one scene in which I was very interested in what was making the noise, yet from the time he hears the noise to the time he investigates, is so full of second guessing, wondering, thinking, that my mind wonder elsewhere. Yet I did come to, in time to find out what he found out, as it was such a long process. Beware of chapter 23. You are thinking how well this written and then all of a sudden Pulp Fiction breaks out. I think I am very open minded, especially when it comes to sex, but this was pretty disturbing. Some have said it should not have been in the book. I am no history buff or doctor, but I believe this is how a lot of sexual diseases got started, so is it factual for the time and place? When we don't educate the public that these things happen, does that lead to more of it?
DUNG DRIPPING TONGUE
I have nothing against this narrator, in no way did he ruin the experience. I will listen to more of his work and I gave him three stars which means average. At the beginning of the book he read mostly in a breathy voice, kind of like he was reading a romance. He read very slow, which added the length of the book. He was great at voices and accents.
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.
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.
My favorite genres are absurdist humor, Sci-fi & modern fantasy, but, as you can see, I'll read just about anything. Don't mind the typos.
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.
Reading was one of the best I have heard. I was wrapped up in the story in no time at all
A very enjoyable story with an unusual setting and interesting characters. Well written and sympathetically narrated.
I was so excited to learn of this book because I enjoyed Swan Song so much, however it didn't live up to what I'd hoped it would. It's basically a who dunnit but it just goes on and on. In the end I didn't really care who did it! I am not sure how much time this book covers but it just seems an age.
The author uses beautiful language in his descriptions, almost poetic, but unfortunately this was not enough to redeem this book for me. I would definitely recommend Swan Song but not this one.
I have had a couple of duds lately from audible, think I need to choose more wisely next time!
Loved the description in this novel, the characters were well drawn and the narrator was ideally suited to this book. Difficult to put down and didn.t want to end!
Slow to start, but enjoyed the intriguing twists and turns that got me wondering who.
"Superb on all accounts"
What a fantastic story and narrator. I have never read anything from this author before, but will definitely be listening/reading others in his collection.
I was gripped from start to finish on this title. With excellent attention to detail for the period and location, a wonderful array of characters all with histories and secrets, intertwined to make a haunting mystery.
If you are a fan of murder mysteries, classic who dunnits then this is definitely a title you will enjoy.
"this is worth staying with"
after a slow start this book picks up and becomes one you want to finish to find out 'who dunnit'. well narrated the voices are identifiable and easily recognisable.
This is a very long and convoluted tale set in 17th century New England. There are many twists and turns and dead ends before the final denouement. It is a hugely enjoyable tour de force with splendid characters both major and minor. And a great reader too. I'm going straight to the second book in the series.
"Excellent mystery with a twist."
Thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. Had to change my guesses of who did it constantly and even then never would have worked it out. Kept me on the Edge of my seat constantly.
Thought I would try something different and glad I did. If you are bored with your normal choice try this I don't think you will be disappointed
The death of the magistrate
The narration is inseparable from the story
It was gripping and the historical aspect was haunting
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