How in the world, and I mean this with every ounce of marrow in my bones, have I never heard of Robert McCammon? As with most writers, I am an avid reader. I read with a passion equal to a fly on a rotting carcass. I am up on all the new releases as well as the classics. I attempted once to read Ulysses by James Joyce. That did not end well I’m afraid. However, I try to read something new whenever I get the chance. This book: “Speaks the Nightbird” by Robert McCammon was a suggested to me by Goodreads. I passed over it a number of times, choosing instead the mundane psychological thriller that I am usually more comfortable with. If I had known what I was passing up, I would’ve relinquished all hope of finishing the Netflix series I was binging, grabbed my blanket, lit a candle or two and settled in for a long dreary night. For this is not just a book, no sir. It is a work of art. It is a volume of epic proportions.
Published in 2007, Speaks the Nightbird is set in 1699 South Carolina in the fictional port town of Fount Royal. The citizens of Fount Royal are happy to see that the highly respected magistrate from Charles Town has finally arrived. You see, Fount Royal has a problem, and her name is Rachel Howarth. She has been charged with the murder of a minister and her husband. The citizens claim that she is a witch, doing to devil’s work. There are several witnesses that have testified to the woman’s crimes against God. Magistrate Woodward has come to sentence the unholy wretch to death and have her burned at the stake while the citizenry looks on.
Madame Howarth loudly protests her innocence. However, having not a single person to come to her aid, she has succumbed to the notion that she will ultimately burn. That is until young Matthew Corbett, the magistrate’s clerk comes to the realization that not only is Rachel innocent of the murders, but she’s also not a witch. So, if she is not a witch, then why are so many of her fellow citizens claiming so?
This is a wonderful yet shockingly brutal story of good versus evil. That evil being mankind himself.
If I were to have any negative critique at all it would be in the editing. This book is 800 pages long and suffers many typographical errors. A little more diligence on the part of the editor would’ve done the book so much justice.