Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Genre Character of the Week: Matthew Corbett

Following a favourite author through their works in publishing order is an interesting experience. Robert R. McCammon, writer of many of my favourite horror stories actually put his first four novels out of print and it is only due to a lot of used-bookstore shopping that I came across them. The writer of fifteen novels, I’ve definitely placed Mr. McCammon in my top ten horror writers. His latest three novels, however, move away from the horror genre into historical fiction. There is a complete lack of monsters, demons, vampires, etc., and although the first of these novels does focus on a witch trial, it is his characters, namely this week’s genre character, Matthew Corbett, who keep me interested.

Speaks the Nightbird takes place in the Carolinas in 1699, and focuses on the clerk of a travelling magistrate as its main character. Matthew is exactly the kind of character I really enjoy in my fiction, stubborn, curious, and wanting to understand the reasons behind everything. Unfortunately, the trial he is working on in the novel, a witch trial for a woman named Rachel Howarth, has a lot going on behind it, and the people involved will do anything to remain hidden.

Matthew is described by his employer as seeing everything in front of him, “if you show him a picture, he notes the work, the frame, the nail and the wall it is driven into,” so Matthew, although still quite young (he is 20 as the novel begins), is a very astute observer, a trait that really impresses me.

Although I’ve only read the first of the three books focusing on Matthew, I’m definitely going back for more, and if you are interested in a really interesting Mystery/Thriller in a historical setting, Speaks the Nightbird is a really good one.

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