Select one of the keywords
The Conjurer's Bird    by Martin Davies order for
Conjurer's Bird
by Martin Davies
Order:  USA  Can
Shaye Areheart, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Travel back in time to 1774 when Captain Cook and the crew of the Resolution explored the South Pacific. During the expedition's visit to Ulieta, one of the Society Islands, the Resolution's naturalist, John Forster, captured and preserved a remarkably unique thrush-like bird. Later, however, when Forster returned to England, he desperately needed money, so he sold the singular specimen to another naturalist and explorer, Joseph Banks, a man whose personal relationships and professional conflicts would jeopardize the avian specimen's future. In fact, sometime in the 1770s, the mysterious bird from Ulieta - apparently the only example of soon to be extinct species - vanished without a trace, and more than two hundred years later, the only extant proof of the bird's apparent existence would be a drawing made by Forster's brother while on board the Resolution.

Now, in contemporary London, John Fitzgerald, a university lecturer and naturalist, is approached by a young woman - someone whom he has for a long time tried to forget. Now she reappears in Fitzgerald's life and, accompanied by an acquaintance of questionable character and motives, she tells Fitzgerald something that ignites his obsessive interest in extinct avian species: The mysterious bird of Ulieta may, in fact, still exist, even after more than two hundred years of obscurity as little more than a tantalizing footnote in natural history. Moreover, someone is now willing to pay a very generous finder's-fee for the bird's recovery and delivery.

When Fitzgerald begins his search by doing some preliminary historical research, he quickly realizes that solving the mystery of the bird's existence is ineluctably linked to the story of Joseph Banks and an unidentified woman who may have been romantically involved with Banks. What unfolds in The Conjurer's Bird is Fitzgerald's complicated and controversial quest - a journey designed to find things during which he learns, 'It's an obvious thing to say, but journeys do not always lead where you expect.'

Reader, do not deprive yourself of the immense pleasures and important discoveries waiting for you in one of the finest literary novels of the year. Martin Davies, author of The Conjurer's Bird, has created an exemplary tale - one which moves gracefully between past and present - in which recovery of a mythic object from the enigmatic past becomes - more significantly - a passionate quest in which redemption, recovery, and love become the most important treasures.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Historical books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews