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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Book review: Speaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammon


AUTHOR INFO: Robert Rick McCammon was a full-time horror writer for many years. Among his many popular novels were the classics Boy's Life and Swan Song. After taking a hiatus for his family, he returned to writing with an interest in historical fiction.

McCammon resides in Birmingham, Alabama. He is currently working on the eighth Matthew Corbett novel, The King of Shadows.

Publisher: Gallery Books (July 17, 2007) Length: 816 pages

OVERVIEW: Speaks the Nightbird is a masterpiece. It's been on my Kindle for a while, but the daunting page count terrified me. Silly (or lazy?) me. It's magnificent.

Set in Colonial America in 1699, the story follows Matthew Corbett - an apprentice of magistrate Isaac Woodward. The pair travels to Fount Royal to investigate the case of a young woman accused of two murders and witchcraft (plus terrible weather and everything that drives settlers away.) Town leaders press for quick execution - there's nothing like burning of the witch to calm the masses.

Evidence and testimonies speak against Rachel, but Matthew, impressed by her beauty, has doubts. Small inconsistencies in testimonies, minor clues, and observation of people lead him to challenge his Master and everyone around. It also appears many of Rachel's accusers have a lot to gain by her execution. 

McCammon presents the era with all the filthy details. It's clear he's done a lot of research. The use of anachronisms respects the period's tone and linguistic conventions. The level of care put to present shocking customs and beliefs of the era (like treating bloodletting as a panacea) impressed me. 

A note about McCammon's writing - he paints an amazingly detailed picture of pretty much any scene. I found myself totally immersed in his writing but it won't appeal to everyone. Be warned; it is not a quick read, but rather an immersive and detailed study of the era and human soul. Yes, yes, I know, it sounds dramatic but it's also true.  The narrative presents the hardships of day-to-day living during Colonial times and superstitions that made people behave in the most hideous ways toward others. McCammon doesn't shy away from portraying grittier aspects of human nature. Have that in mind.

I immediately liked Matthew. I admired his single-minded desire to know the answers, all of them; to learn new things and unravel mysteries.  Matthew is a peculiar man. The type who relaxes by solving mathematical problems. In Latin, of course. The sort of man ready to stand against the beliefs of his era to learn the truth. In Speaks the Nightbird, he gains a new level of understanding of himself and the world. But to get there, he needs to challenge hundreds of years of medieval knowledge built into the legal system at the time.  

He's also a twenty-year-old virgin and an orphan; his relationships with both his master and Rachel (accused of witchery) are nuanced and fully believable. His dynamics with Woodward is amazing and gut-wrenching. Perfectly portrayed. Matthew's journey into manhood is difficult but he gets there by trusting his instincts and refusing to give up when faced with the impossible. 

As mentioned, McCammon loves details. Such focus forces readers to be with characters every step of their way, to live through each choice and action they make. And in my opinion, McCammon managed to flesh out every single character in his novel. I can't name any flat character in here. Sure, some are grotesque (a blacksmith who loves his horses, perhaps too much, or the lecherous priest known as Exodus Jerusalem)  but not forgettable. 

CONCLUSION: Speaks the Nightbird is one of the best books I've ever read. A slow burn, sure, but with depth, intelligence, and a fascinating story to tell. Despite tackling dark themes and showing both violence and disturbing deviations, it doesn't lack subtle humor and hope. And did I mention it contains mysteries within mysteries and visceral action scenes? 

The Wildfire Cycle series Q&A with D.P. Woolliscroft (interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Order Kingshold over HERE
Order Ioth, City Of Lights over HERE
Order The Wildfire Cycle: Part I over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Ioth, City of Lights

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart - Review

Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read Caitlin's review of The Bone Shard Daughter HERE

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Graphic Novel: Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin

Book Links: Goodreads, Amazon

Published: Oct 19, 2021 Publisher: DC Comics Pages:312 Collects Far Sector 1-12

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Book review: The Worst is Yet to Come by S.P. Miskowski

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

AUTHOR INFO: S.P. Miskowski has received two National Endowments for the Arts Fellowships. Her second novel, I Wish I Was Like You, was named This Is Horror Novel of the Year for 2017 and received a Charles Dexter Award (Favorite Novel of 2017) from Strange Aeons Magazine. Her books have received three Shirley Jackson Award nominations and two Bram Stoker Award nominations, and are available from Omnium Gatherum and JournalStone/ Trepidatio.

Publication Date: February 22, 2019 Publisher: Trepidatio Publishing, an imprint of JournalStone Print Length: 208 pages Cover art by Mikio Murakami.

The Great Hearts III: Shadowstrike by David Oliver (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Author Information
Order The Great Hearts III: Shadowstrike over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of The Great Hearts
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of The Great Hearts II: A Game Of Gods
Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Cover reveal: Mercury Rising by R.W.W. Greene


Title: Mercury Rising    Author: R.W.W. Greene    Publisher: Angry Robot Books    Release Date: 10 May 2022    Cover Designer: David Leehy Pre-order link: Amazon

ABOUT THE BOOK: Even in a technologically-advanced, Kennedy-Didn’t-Die alternate-history, Brooklyn Lamontagne is going nowhere fast. The year is 1975, thirty years after Robert Oppenheimer invented the Oppenheimer Nuclear Engine, twenty-five years after the first human walked on the moon, and eighteen years after Jet Carson and the Eagle Seven sacrificed their lives to stop the alien invaders.

Brooklyn just wants to keep his mother’s rent paid, earn a little scratch of his own, steer clear of the cops, and maybe get laid sometime in the near future. Simple pleasures, right? But a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes is about to make his life real complicated…

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Great Hearts II: A Game Of Gods by David Oliver (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Information
Order The Great Hearts II: A Game Of Gods over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of The Great Hearts

OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: David A. Oliver was born in the British Isles and currently lives in England with his lovely partner. David was introduced to fantasy at quite a young age thanks to the Redwall books by Brian Jacques. After an extended, multi-year fantasy binge David decided to write a book and The Great Hearts is his debut novel. A fantasy novel that takes the reader on a whirlwind adventure featuring monsters and mayhem. He hopes any new reader enjoys it as much as he liked writing it!
Saturday, November 20, 2021

Blogtour: Interview with Quenby Olson, the author of Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons

Author info: Quenby Olson lives in Central Pennsylvania where she spends most of her time writing, glaring at baskets of unfolded laundry, and telling her kids to stop climbing things. She lives with her husband and five children, who do nothing to dampen her love of classical ballet, geeky crochet, and staying up late to watch old episodes of Doctor Who.

Find Quenby online: WebsiteTwitter,

Book Information: Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson Series: A Miss Percy Guide (#1) Published: October 26, 2021 Genre: Comedic, Fantasy of Manners Pages: 347 CW: very mild profanity
Book Links: GoodreadsAmazon
Friday, November 19, 2021

Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee - Book Review

Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read Caitlin's review of Jade City HERE
Read Caitlin's review of Jade War HERE

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Fonda is a winner of the World Fantasy Award, as well as a three-time winner of the Aurora Award (Canada’s national science fiction and fantasy award), and a multiple finalist for the Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and the Oregon Book Award. Her novels have garnered multiple starred reviews, been included on numerous state reading lists, named Junior Library Guild selections, and appeared on Best of Year lists from NPR, Barnes & Noble, Syfy Wire, and others. Jade City has been translated in multiple languages and optioned for television development.

In addition, she has written acclaimed short fiction and comic books for Marvel. She is a frequent speaker and instructor at writing workshops including Viable Paradise and Clarion West.

Fonda is a former corporate strategist and black belt martial artist who loves action movies and Eggs Benedict. Born and raised in Canada, she currently resides in Portland, Oregon.


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