My review of The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

Nicola Marter was born with a gift: when she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. This has never been something that Nicola welcomes, or wants, and she certainly wouldn’t dream of mentioning it to her charismatic boss, Sebastian Karakazov, owner of the premier London gallery of Russian art and artifacts. 

Things change when a young woman offers Sebastian a small wooden carving for sale, with the claim it was given to one of her ancestors by Russia’s famed Empress Catherine. In the young woman’s family the carving has always been known as The Firebird, named for the mythical bird that inspires the quest in the old Russian fairy tale; but to Sebastian, it’s valueless. There’s one problem, though. Nicola has held it and she knows that the woman is telling the truth – she must set out to uncover the secrets behind the legend of The Firebird.

When the gallery she works in receives a wooden carving she can see the object’s history and knows that it was named after the Firebird, the mythical bird that inspires an old Russian fairytale and was once owned by Russia’s famed Empress Catherine. 

Nicola’s investigation into the Firebird’s origin draws her into the 1715 world of Anna Logan and leads her on a quest through Scotland, France and Russia, unearthing a tale of love and sacrifice, of courage and redemption.

 TITLE: The Firebird
AUTHOR: Susanna Kearsley
COPYRIGHT: 2013 (Jan 28th in the UK and Australia, Jun 4th in the US)
PAGES: 500
PUBLISHER: Allison & Busby
SETTING: England, Scotland, Belgium & Russia, 21st and 18th century.
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: Follows The Winter Sea, and is connected to The Shadowy Horses

The Firebird is not part of a trilogy but Susanna Kearsley continues the historical flashback stories by placing them in a different story in varied cities and countries within a plot of a different present day novel.  She does this beautifully and with deft persuasion that the reader is immediately caught up in the gripping characters, locations, and various eras.

Let me begin by explaining that I love Scottish history, I love the brogue, the accent, the inflection and rhythm of the words spoken by Scots present day and historical. I was therefore, caught up in Nicola and Rob's storyline based in the fishing village of Eyemouth, Scotland. Rob is written almost as a perfectly behaved man i.e. his temperament is very even keel, he is patient in most situations and has a very charming sense of humour. Oh, and he is very good looking, according to Nicola. They make for an interesting couple, maintaining a 'friendship' for most of the storyline and novel. The looming question of will they or won't they take their friendship that one step further is answered in The Firebird, though, you do have to wait until almost near the end! If you are looking for a romance read, this may not be the one to choose! I would have preferred the romantic angle to show up just a bit earlier and when the twist comes Rob's behaviour is surprising. I won't give anything else away. I thought this was actually quite silly and unrealistic but worked for the sweeping saga aspect!

I do not find reading about Russian history that interesting, if I'm honest. For whatever reason, it just doesn't grip me as much as British, French, Italian and or Scottish history.  Therefore, in The Firebird, several characters other female protagonist and little girl Anna Logan, Peter the Great, his wife Catherine, and others take up the mid to end of the book. I found myself skimming through pages just to get back to Rob and Nicola as they travelled through Scotland to Belgium on their way to Russia in search of Anna's Russian history as her storyline progressed. Rob and Nicola are ghost hunting Anna and her guardians Colonel Graeme and Captain Jamieson; characters from Susanna Kearsley's previous novel, 'The Winter Sea' which I loved! It was wonderful to read about them again.

The book title The Firebird is an object and the main connection between Rob, Nicola and Anna. It is the main reason for their travelling. So, when it was not worked in to much of the chapters or the book itself, I had a hard time getting past that fact. Even though, Susanna Kearsley ties up loose ends and questions are answered neatly, I found myself enjoying The Firebird but just not as gripping as her previous novels.

Feel free to leave comments,


Hermes said…
Never read any of her books but like the premise. Russian history is difficult and mainly depressing - though not their fault. I read a lot of Russian literature at one time. Will look out for her work from now on.
Kimberly Eve said…
Yes, I find the same thing when reading Russian history. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment, Hermes.
Anonymous said…
An honest appraisal....gigigirl

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