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)
I was intrigued by the idea of an American mystery from 1699. The book exceeded all my expectations. Wonderful prose style, an engaging story and unforgettable characters combined to captivate me from start to finish. The narration was impeccable. For anyone who likes historical mysteries, this is a must-read! And the best part is that McCammon has more books in the series; I'm loading up my cart as we speak.
A must-read for lovers of historical mysteries.
I was fascinated throughout. Characterization was very good; that kept me connected.
I didn't notice it. That's good.
I love reading, have since I was very little. Reading to me is fun, relaxation, acquiring knowledge and so much more. No particular preference for a genre or writer, I will read anything well written. Once gripped by somebodies style of storytelling & writing, I am likely to read everything he or she has written.
The story was good but told far too slow for my taste. It seems the author felt that the story needed to be told at a pace common for the era of the plot, but at times I felt like falling asleep. TGF the possibility to "wind" forward. I might be laying the blame at the wrong feet though. For all I know it was Mr Ballerine who set the pace.
Not if this is his regular pace
I'm not one for many 2nd listens so most likely no. This book did remind me some of the Lord John series which I enjoy.
I have an hour ride to and from work. Listening to this audiobook, I find myself disappointed when I arrive at my destination. Love the story, and the narrator, E. Ballerini, is excellent. I will absolutely been listening to more books by R. McCammon
I dearly loved "A Boy's Life,” although I have read but not listened to it – I may do that soon. So the chance to revisit Robert McCammon was very appealing and the description of the book made it more so as I love historical fiction. While the book almost lost me at first for the same reason that I don't give it 5 stars, it didn't disappoint.
The beginning is, IMHO, off-putting as it starts off very slowly due - again IMO - to too much detail. The author needs to grab you and get a strong grip on your attention before he bombards you with detail. There were a number of other places in this otherwise gripping and interesting narrative, where I simply longed for some judicious editing. McCammon put me a bit in mind of Diana Gabaldon (the "Outlander" series, a brilliant author of historical fiction who does amazing research and sometimes just can't help sharing every excruuuuciating deeeetail.
Having said that, I stuck with "Speaks the Nightbird" through the first difficult hour and don't regret it. In fact, I'd love a sequel to find out what happens to Matthew, the protagonist.
The setting is very well done if you're a lover of historical fiction. In spite of previous criticism of too much detail, I really felt like McCammon's research and skill let me enter the town of Fount Royal - swampy, miserable, haunted, evil place that it was - and walk around and see it and smell it and sense the claustrophobic walls of the inhabitant's lives. He adds detail that, as they accumulate, help the reader understand what it must have been like to live with the amount of ignorance and fear and the almost complete lack of control these people had over their existence. You come to understand what desperation can do to humans and cause them to do to one another. The book is about the many levels of evil that result when superstition and desperation and greed combine in an uncontrollable world.
I loved the character of Matthew almost from the beginning (or, rather, once the difficult first part was over.) The other characters are all fairly well drawn, although Rachel the witch (a central character) lacked depth until near the end of the book. Some of the characters border on stereotypes, but by the time their stories come together and draw to their conclusions they begin to fit much better and actually make more sense.
The performance was OK. Not spectacular, but not bad. It didn't annoy me. He has a fairly good range of voices.
I have avoided rehashing the story, as others have done that quite well, and I have also avoided any spoilers, as this is also a mystery story, but I won't avoid telling you that I liked it a great deal.
There are times during this listen when I wondered when the author would stop with details and move the story along. Counterpoint is there are times when the details are not irritating and enrich the story. If you enjoy the longer books (and I do) don't hesitate to purchase it. Edoardo Ballerini does an excellent narration - all 22 hours! His timing is perfect. Several really great components were getting to know the cast, being able to picture the different setting, challenges faced and emotions. I suspect Robert McCammon will write a second book about Matthew and future adventure. If so I won't miss it.
The book and the narration held me spellbound to the end. I listen in my car and one day forgot where I was--totally entranced.
The author writes with a combination of the talents of Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Melville, Washington Irving and Stephen King. You relate to their characters, descriptives, and studies in human nature.
He could be so many characters. You thought more than one person was performing. He drew you in and made you be a part of the book. Very seductive.
Be seduced by curiosity!
I right away downloaded "Queen of Bedlam"--finished it--and am now reading "Mr. Slaughter". I hope McCammon keeps the series going. I'm in love with Matthew Corbett.
"Speaks the Nightbird" takes place in 1699 in an isolated settlement near "the Florida country." The depiction of early colonial living is highly evocative and seems well-researched. (I was particularly intrigued by the habit of some settlers of allowing wasps to build nests in their homes to eliminate mosquitoes.) The sights, smells, and inconveniences of life in a frontier settlement are so vividly described that I felt as though I had experienced it for myself. Even the style of the writing, while modern, carried a flavor of the way people talked (or at least wrote) in this period.
The characters are well-rounded and all-too-human. Even the villains of the piece emerge as fully-realized people with understandable (if deplorable) motivations. Most of the characters are neither bad nor good, but a mixture of the two, and even our heroes have their flaws.
Taken on its own without the fleshing-out of the environment and the characters, the story is fairly lurid, and I doubt if any little colonial settlement could have gathered in one place so many strange people and bizarre motivations. But in the context of this well-crafted tale, I was carried along quite willingly to the conclusion. I believed in the characters and I believed in the story. I was moved many times, and cared about the outcome. And while the heart of the story is a mystery, it was so well handled that I never divined the entire solution. (Guessing the solution, or trying to, is one of the reasons I read mysteries.)
The narrator does an excellent job, playing the different character's voices with precision and subtlety so that I was never really conscious of him, if that makes sense. Sometimes narrators irritate with quirks of phrasing or bad accents, but Edoardo Ballerini (new to me as a moderator) was perfect.
I highly recommend "Speaks the Nightbird" to anyone who craves an intelligent, engaging read as well as a mystery. The fact that it is also 30+ hours makes for an entirely satisfying experience.
Really enjoyable listening and Mr Ballerini is a wonderful actor. Each character had it's own voice. Highly recommend.
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