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Publisher's Summary

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....

Evil Unveiled

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.

Critic Reviews

“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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Meh...

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)

88 of 106 people found this review helpful

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I'M NOT JUST RIGHT, I AM CORRECT

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.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Margaret
  • San Francisco, CA USA
  • 09-25-12

This is how you start a series!

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.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Superb on every level

Excellent book set in the late 1600’s in British colonial America, which I would categorize as an historical fiction mystery thriller. A magistrate and his clerk are sent to a small town to investigate a charge of witchcraft, and soon they encounter several undercurrents to the charges (social, economic, corrupt, racial, and generational) that presents a more complex series of facts for them to investigate. None of these facts necessarily speaks to the accused’s innocence, merely to an undercurrent that takes things beyond a straightforward witch trial. The book is multi-layered, intelligently written and not the sort of cookie cutter crime thriller format in which you can predict the end far in advance.

I highly recommend this one.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 02-19-15

Too Long, Too Nasty . . . Could've Been GREAT

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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Ryan
  • Somerville, MA, United States
  • 04-18-13

Tropefest 1699

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.

22 of 27 people found this review helpful

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Excellent

Solid, enjoyable whodunit, much in the style of an Edwardian mystery with keen-witted Matthew Corbett, judicial clerk, as its Sherlock. Set in the late 17th-century Carolina colony, Matthew and his master, Magistrate Woodward, have been summoned to the small village of Fount Royal in order to try Rachel Howarth for the crime of witchcraft. Matthew does his own sleuthing on the side, finding out that Fount Royal is dealing with an insidious villain much more dangerous than its citizens realize. The prose is masterfully paced and full of excellent detail. Author McCammon frames his young protagonist in heroic style, and the reader can't help but root for the boy throughout the story. Everything sets up for a series surrounding his further crime-foiling exploits, and indeed, there are now four other books in the Matthew Corbett set. I'll definitely be checking them out.
Narrator Edoardo Ballerini is superb.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Taryn
  • Suffern, NY, United States
  • 02-15-14

Beginning to End, great entertainment!

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.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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The Witching Hour Romance

Where does Speaks the Nightbird rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I would say it ranks in the high five.

What did you like best about this story?

The transformation of the storyline from a witches brew to a romance.

Which scene was your favorite?

Gosh golly it's hard to say, there's so much action in this audiobook. I would say, the escape from the .....can't tell because it would ruin the story for someone.
The most interesting point that stands out in this book is you never know if Matthew really and truly loses his virginity or not.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, actually the audio span was so long and the storyline so massive I enjoyed listening to this in intervals.

Any additional comments?

This was my first Robert McCammon novel however I see that his character Matthew has a series of novels where I believe he becomes a detective. I am certainly interested in reading up on young Matthew and seeing how things go for him from this point on in his life.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • B.J.
  • Minneapolis, MN, United States
  • 07-26-12

Law & Order: 1699

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.

14 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Brian B.
  • 05-10-13

Very, Very Clever

This story is not generally my kind of subject matter, but both the author and narrator have gripped me with a very, very clever story, that is as factual and historic as it is murder, mystery.
I only really downloaded this because I was absolutely blown away by Swan Song which after 34 hours of listening, I was left wishing there were another 34 hours remaining, I was that enthralled.
I have already downloaded the next 2 instalments in the Matthew Corbett series and I cannot wait. Summed up in 1 sentence ' Robert McCammon doesn't just write, he paints images that immerse you into the very fabric of the story'.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • zomodo
  • 01-31-13

Over long

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!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • mollyeyre
  • 09-16-17

This cannot be the same book

This cannot be the same book relating to the reviews that I have read. I am about 2 hours through and I am sickened by the whole scenario. (only another 28 hours to go!) Nothing has happened yet in this 2 hours apart from the 2 main characters travelling through the night and arriving at a god forsaken place where the Inn keeper is revolting, nasty, dirty and speaks of F***ing and 'Dipping your wick', I just don't know where the praise has come from - I really feel sickened, and apart from anything else I could have written this first two hours in a few paragraphs. It adds absolutely nothing to any story which may be in the dim distant future. I am furious with this book - normally I accept that 'OK, maybe my taste is different', but this is so awful I feel offended by it. Above all - I am completely mystified by the praise!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Meg Plummer
  • 07-12-17

Excellent narrator. Full stop

The narrator was excellent. And that's where the recommendation ends. For me - an author to sidestep

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Edmund
  • 12-23-14

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • S. E. North
  • 04-13-13

Wonderful historical, mystery, thriller

This slowly developing, detailed and descriptive novel brings alive an historical period while weaving a web of mystery. Drawing pen portraits of a collection of frontiers people, all with an unusual history, McCammon introduces the reader to witchcraft and ignorance, murders and an underlying sense of threat. But striding through this grim and frightening landscape is the determined and morally sound Matthew Corbett, judge's clerk. The reader sees the characters and the new town through Matthew's eyes, shadowing his perseverance as he investigates the crimes being blamed on Rachel's witchcraft. Beautifully read too. I will be looking out for the other books in this series!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Zoe
  • 04-07-13

Good escapism

A very enjoyable story with an unusual setting and interesting characters. Well written and sympathetically narrated.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sheila
  • 12-23-12

Excellent

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • poshdog
  • 12-12-17

Loved it

A fantastic example of historic, detective fiction. A tale beautifully told with memorable characters who live and breathe.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-28-17

Good book

The story was well written though for me just too explicit with disgusting descriptions! Obviously that’s just my own opinion but I was unable to listen to the whole book.
Though I thought Robert McCammon writing style excellent as you really felt you were involved in the story hence why it was a bit to gross for me. And the narration was excellent.
So if you have a more hardy stomach than me you will enjoy the book!