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Evil Unveiled: Speaks the Nightbird Vol. II    by Robert McCammon order for
Evil Unveiled
by Robert R. McCammon
Order:  USA  Can
Pocket, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Volume I of Speaks the Nightbird ended with young widow Rachel Howarth sentenced to death after being found guilty of practicing witchcraft in the new settlement of Fount Royal. The founder, not to mention the remaining townspeople, rejoice over the news that their months-long trials and tribulations will soon be at an end. Once the witch is dead and her unholy ashes scattered to the four winds they, the town and the once fertile fields around them will once again flourish.

While young clerk Matthew Corbett believes that his beloved mentor, Magistrate Isaac Woodward, has diligently pursued the truth and passed judgment based solely on the evidence presented, he himself is certain that it's not the entire story. After hearing Rachel's own testimony, Matthew steadfastly maintains that she's the victim of a skillful game orchestrated by one or more very cunning 'tricksters'. Determined to unmask wrongdoers who have convinced an entire town that Fount Royal is the Devil's own playground, Matthew employs logic, and every survival trick he learned growing up in a New York orphanage, to ferret out the truth. His quest for justice becomes a relentless race against time during which he discovers that even a small and newly settled town like Fount Royal harbours secrets - intricate, dangerous, far-reaching secrets more evil than even the Devil himself might have conjured.

Evil Unveiled continues McCammon's big, rich historical tapestry of an intriguing time period in American history. The details and customs of 1700s colonial life are painted with skill as is a vibrant and varied cast. At times the story seems a bit overwritten and redundant, particularly in McCammon's descriptions of Fount Royal and certain historical points and/or customs but skimming ahead presents its own risks - you may miss new clues along the way. Protagonist Matthew Corbett, whose meticulous and logical mind challenges not only the townsfolk but the reader as well, remains the outstanding character in this long and finely woven tale. He draws the reader into what becomes his very personal quest to save a woman wrongly accused of witchcraft.

I certainly hope the author will resurrect the intriguing young Matthew in another story. Speaks the Nightbird: Evil Unveiled is a truly memorable tale that brings this historical mystery to a gripping and satisfying conclusion.

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