1699. A magistrate and his clerk journey to the remote community of Fount Royal in The Carolinas, intending to put on trial a woman accused of witchcraft. But the young clerk, Matthew Corbett, isn’t convinced of the woman’s guilt and when the magistrate falls ill, takes on the task of putting questions to the so-called witch. But despite Matthew’s misgivings, Magistrate Woodward sentences the woman to death by burning, giving the young man only a few days to pursue his own theories.
I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t heard of best-selling author Robert McCammon, but I certainly won’t be ignoring him any longer. ‘Speaks the Nightbird’ is the first book in the Matthew Corbett series (there are six so far), and it gets off to a cracking start. McCammon is a consummate storyteller who creates a world so compelling and all-encompassing that I even considered staying off work so I’d be able to finish the book. The writing is superb, and immerses the reader in a God-fearing, witch-hating community that is as convincing and as frightening as anything I’ve ever come across in the pages of a book. His characters are totally believable and the plot, which throws its hero into a complex and disturbing investigation, had me completely absorbed from page one.
Robert McCammon is my new favourite author and I’ve already got the next Matthew Corbett adventure (The Queen of Bedlam) on my bookshelf.