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)
Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!
McCammon never disappoints. This story stays localized in the Carolinas, at a time when people still believed in witches. ---Yes, there was a time in this country when we believed in witches. The attention to detail is extraordinary. McCammon takes you to this dirty little backwoods town and leaves you there with no map...and you will LOVE it! The story itself is a mystery...of sorts.... but it feels like more of a journey novel. This is due to the fact that the characters are so incredibly unique and well fleshed-out, that you forget you're reading a mystery.
Warning--This book is VERY adult. Without getting too "spoiler-ry" about it, I'll just say that there are a few depraved acts that take place that I wouldn't want my child reading (listening) about.
The narrator is GREAT.
If you're itching for a good period piece, with a sprinkle of "who dunnit", then this is the book for you.
McCammon knows how to tell a story; and in a genre where it is difficult to successfully intersect historical facts with horror and fiction (without "jumping the shark"), he conjours up a plagued Carolina colony inhabited by one of the most ruthless entourages imaginable, to tell us a macabre and convincing tale of witches, demons, and pirate's gold.
Whether or not widow Rachel is a witch--and McCammon keeps us wondering as young Matthew becomes obsessed with the woman and her innocence--she would hardly be the most diabolical resident in Fount Royal. The colorful characters: the gluttonous Mayor Bidwell, rat-catcher Linch, preacher Exodus Jerusalem, Hazelton the town bugger/blacksmith, a one-eyed killer bear, savage natives, and murderous innkeepers keep the story suspenseful and constantly expanding. As Magistrate Woodward sinks deeper into a grave illness, apprentice Matthew is forced to take over the investigation of Rachel and her witchery. Less a traditionalist than the Magistrate, the mystery deepens as a curious Matthew looks beyond the *evidence* into the shady underbelly of the town, revealing bizarre secrets and a possibly less-than-noble motive for witch burning. With a knack for keen observation, (and his pining for Rachel) Matthew seems transformed into a Sherlock Holmes-esque sleuth, with hormones.
You could rightly say it is a long read, at times it seemed too long, and I wished for an abridged edition, but it is packed with atmosphere, great writing, and historical details (a few anachronisms if you're being a stickler) that held my interest. Edoardo Ballerini's voice is nothing less than a fine instrument, and his nuanced performance of the characters was worthy of double **. This choice was a tough one for me; one I was sure I wouldn't like, because I was one of the few that loathed the much loved Swan Song. But, I was so curious. I wound up liking this entertaining piece of skullduggery, and I recommend as a good historical fiction book for your consideration (with noted caveats)--unless your in a hurry, or a stickler. The fact that I'd written off McCammon, and am now ready to continue with the next volume in this Matthew Corbett series (I like his style) is my endorsement.
Sci Fi Reader
This is just a wonderful story. If you are a fan of the Outlander series or Charles Dickens or many classic authors you will love this book. Every word drips with precision and power. Such a masterpiece. Not what you would expect from Mccammon a horror master. This book brings you to 1699 and the character of Matthew Corbett. So many twists and turns, great characterizations. Edoardo Ballerini gives a perfect peformance. Cannot say enough.
I never write reviews... Too lazy! But this book is so extraordinary that it deserves to be pushed into the hands (ears) of every serious reader. The plot is complex; the mystery is engrossing; the characters are perfectly drawn; the period detail is flawless; and the philosophical conclusions the reader enjoys are rich. Go for this one....
Member since 2000
This is one of the few audio books that makes me wish Audible had a 10 star rating system. Speaks the Nightbird deserves 10 stars. Life in Colonial America must have been brutal beyond anything we can imagine. Yet Robert McCammon does imagine it and he does so brilliantly. We learn about the superstitions, illnesses, lack of medicine and constant danger of starvation. The story starts in 1699, when Isaac Woodward, magistrate, and his clerk, Matthew Corbett, travel to Fount Royal to investigate Rachel Howarth. Rachel has been accused of murder and of being a witch. Woodward believes Rachel Howarth's accuser's, but Matthew is not so sure, but he has only a few days to prove her innocence. And the story of Matthew's investigation gives us a tale that will leave listener's racing to get the next book in this series. I listened to this audio book in just 4 days. Few books can keep me that mesmerized for 30 hours, but Speaks the Nightbird does so easily. I have such high regard for this first entry that I struggled to express it. I leave you with-it is wonderfully fantastic.
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.
For the first 10 hours I enjoyed this book, then it started to drag. And the drag was compound by the main character becoming a tiresome bore. Entire chunks of the manuscript could have been deleted and the story would not have suffered. The story begins to bog down midway. I kept forgetting that everything took place in a matter of days, not weeks. It felt like months. By the time I wanted to stop listening, I had invested so much time into the story I felt I had to see it through
-The narrator, Eduardo Ballerini, does a superb job. I would definitely listen to another of his books.
-Robert McCammon is a wonderful writer. His language is evocative and sucks the reader into the story. There is just too much of it.
-Great character studies of the residents of Fount Royal, even the bad guys. And that contributes to the negatives because some characters feel like they were there because the author wanted to write about them, not because they were critical to the story.
-The 30 hours which should have been 20 - at most
-Matthew Corbett's repetitive and sanctimonious whining. I don't blame some of the other characters for not taking him seriously.
-Characters that appear and then disappear once they have served their purpose. What, for instance, happened to the blacksmith after his tryst with his equine companion?
-My unwillingness to believe that a young man as educated and smart as Matthew would throw away his entire live on a woman he met briefly.
-The book takes place over less than two weeks yet feels like it is at least two months.
-Others have pointed out the details that are off for the period.
-Too many characters that serve little purpose other than to help Matthew uncover someone's secret. The troupe of actors come to town, months ahead of schedule. with a new stage manager who just happens to have been acquainted with one of the bad guys decades ago in England. The troupe appears one day and then departs the next.
-The absence of positive females, or many female characters at all, except the witch and the housekeeper. The only other females were an entreprenurial shrew and her seemingly possessed daughter. None of the main male characters had a wife living in Fount Royal. The wives were all dead or crazy or addicted but living elsewhere.
The "I almost stopped listening":
-The penis obsessed language used by almost every male character in the story. They all seemed to be obsessed with penises big and small. It didn't feel right. Just like it felt very wrong that the magistrate would tell the slimy innkeeper Matthew was a virgin. Matthew was 20 years old in 1699. I wonder if this would have been acceptable dinner conversation.
-(Spoiler Alert on this one) Instead of finding the scene where poor Lucy the horse is mounted by her owner (in the biblical sense} to be grotesque or repellent, I found it laughable. The image of the man suspended in mid-air in a homemade sex sling to enjoy connubial bliss with his pony made me think of a circus for perverts.
-Matthew is so set on proving Rachael is innocent, yet he willing lets the guilty go free. Most of the main characters have a secret to hide or have been committing crimes. But Matthew keeps the secrets to meet his own ends.
-Matthew can't see past his quest to save Rachael. He was even willing to abandon the magistrate, the man who educated and protected him, for the sake of a woman he barely knew.
This book has taken its place in the pantheon of my favorite books, alongside Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), The Pickwick Papers (Charles Dickens), Outlander (Diana Gabaldon), and The Quincunx (Charles Palliser). The story is complex and compelling, the characters are unique and complicated, and Edoardo Ballerini has turned in one of the most accomplished performances I have ever heard. Serious readers owe it to themselves to listen.
I really enjoyed this book. Historical fiction is my favorite genre. This series reminds me of the Outlander books without the time travel. Very well written and entertaining from start to finish. I just started the last book and I know it's going to be a while before I find another book I enjoy as much as this series.
I am able to listen to audio books at work, which is the only reason I got as far in this book as I did. I currently have 3 hours left and am just so over it that I doubt I will finish it. I don't even care what happens. The book mildly held my attention for 2/3 and the last 1/3...is just disappointing. Nothing is really getting wrapped up and I'm bored (everyone else seems to love it, so I'm assuming that the "wrapping up" takes place in the upcoming 3 hours).
It takes a LONG time for the story to pick up. Hours and hours in, you are still wondering when the plot will "really" develop. And when the plot DOES go somewhere...it splices in so many different directions that it feels like 10 different, bordering-on-snooze-fest stories. Plus, it's super weird. For instance, there is a fairly graphic scene of bestiality that takes place near the beginning of the book...and the author does nothing with it. The kid runs out of the barn and that's all you hear of the blacksmith and his horses...for the rest of the book. (Granted, I do still have 3 hours left...maybe the story goes back to it? Doubtful) My point is, it seems like it's just grossness for the sake of being gross. And there are numerous descriptions of demon sex, etc...which, in my opinion don't add to the story. It just leaves the entire book feeling scattered and dripping with a grimy darkness that you don't know what to do with.
Not my favorite. I definitely don't recommend. I tried it because it got such rave reviews, so I'm trying to balance everything out :)
As a side note, the narrator was excellent. I only gave him 4 stars because I can't for the life of me figure out why he's reading this book. I see him narrating The Count of Monte Cristo or something...which is what I'm going to listen to next. (Doing a bit of course correcting on my audio books)
"Just avoid this one"
I couldn't finish it. I couldn't even get close.
The narration is good but it is by no means awesome. The one real problem I have is the plot, or to be exact the complete lack of it and the narration cannot overcome this by any distance.
Unfortunately I cannot recommend it. It is just not approachable, which is a shame because Robert's other work "Swan Song" was really good. Perhaps you should check that out instead.
"What a story! tremendous!"
Yes. Mathew's clear headedness in the most dire situations is how I would like to be when confronted. He is the person I see myself as: "after" the event, when all the answers seem easy.To enjoy such a hero gave me the feeling of how I intend to become.
Well, Mathew of course, although Rachael follows closely as I have always been a sucker for a strong and beautiful woman. As for Jerusalem he would be the opposite of favourite due to the frustration of his verbal bullying.
Strangely enough, the conversation in the jail between Rachael and Mathew which ended with Rachael asking Mathew to hold her hand.
A story of morality and justice in a time when religious fear ruled.
its twists and turns
Company of liers
very good easy to listen to very clear
no just enjoyed it
I liked this book so much I have bought the whole series so far as I thin this will be a good series
"Really good read"
After reading Robert McCammons book "Swan Song" I went looking for more books by this author. I came upon this book the first in a series of books about a young man called Matthew Corbett. To be honest I wasn't sure for the first few minutes, and then I became lulled by the lovely voice of Edoardo Ballerini.
I became absorbed by characters and enjoyed the way in which the characters developed. I thought the plot was good and this book was a good introduction to Matthew Corbett. I have listened to all of the Matthew Corbett books and eagerly await the next.
I loved this book. It isn't the sort of story I would normally listen to, and initially I wasn't sure it was my cup of tea, but as the story unfolded I became more and more wrapped up in the mystery and intrigue. Matthew Corbett is a novel and intriguing character, and I have enjoyed his development over the series of books. Eduardo Ballerini's narration is fantastic - I could listen to him speak all day. My one complaint is every now and then he would speak a line of dialogue that was then subsequently given an emotion that I didn't feel matched the tone it was spoken in; but this was a minor niggle, and one that has been less apparent in subsequent books in the series. I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out.
"Not usually my cup of tea "but I loved it"
I would not usually listen to this sort of book but thought it was great. I purchased it after listening to swan song which definitely was my sort of read. I enjoyed swan song so much I thought I would give this a go. At first I wondered what the hell I was listening to because of all the thee's and thou's and historical fiction isn't for me. But after the first hour of listening I was hooked, the narration is great and the story line is intriguing. I have now also listened to some of the other Matthew Corbit Novels and enjoyed them just as much. Give this book a go and you won't be disappointed.
"Fantastic from beginning to end"
Robert McCammon's fabulous way of entertaining you with the entransing voice of Edoardo Ballerini. A winning combination
There were too many to pick one!
The scenes....when the Night Bird was caged....
"A wonderful historical whodunit"
This is the first book in the Matthew Corbett series. Set in the days where the United States hadn't rebelled, and is still a collection of colonies for England and the Dutch.
The story centres around the thoughts and actions of our prissy protagonist, a law clerk to Magistrate Woodward, who have been called to deal with a witch trial in a town called Fount Royal. The town is floundering under the influence of the witch and the town officials are desperate for a quick execution; as the evidence is put forth, Matthew becomes less and less convinced of her guilt.
The story is well told, with plenty of twists to prevent the plot becoming stale, and unusually, McCammon has chosen to make Matthew a tiresome character... I often found him to be slightly annoying, and it's obvious that many of the characters within the story feel the same! That said, despite a minor dislike of Matthew, I did find myself caring what happened to him, and how the town would be saved (if at all...)
The writing is first rate, immersing you in the period and conjuring a detailed and believable world.
If you like a good solid mystery in your fiction, try this one for size!
I downloaded this book to listen to on holiday and I was not disappointed. Great storyline, great narrative and plenty of twists and turns, I was hooked from the start. One of the best thing was that it was not predictable like some other books and so vividly told that you could almost believe you were actually there. Matthew is a great character and I am looking forward to listening to his future exploits.
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