“He sent his mind in search of me that morning.”
Nicola Marter was born with a gift so rare and dangerous she keeps it buried deep. When she encounters a desperate woman trying to sell a small wooden carving called “The Firebird,” claiming it belonged to Russia’s Empress Catherine, it’s a problem. There is no proof.
But Nicola’s held the object. She knows the woman is telling the truth.
With elements of mystery and magical realism, The Firebird intertwines contemporary romance with historical drama, sweeping readers from modern day Scottland to 18th century Russia. I hadn’t read a historical fiction book in a while, so this was a refreshing change. I don’t think I’ve picked up a historical with elements of the paranormal since Deborah Harkness’s last release.
In present day London, Nicola works with fine Russian works of art. While she’s a savvy and well educated woman who excels at her position, she also has a secret: she can see an object’s past with just a touch. Nicola fears her power, for the most part ignoring it, until the day she sees—actually “sees”—the visitor’s firebird in the presence her ancestor, Anna, and the Empress Catherine. But without revealing her visionary powers, she has no proof.
Knowing she cannot control her power enough to trace the origins of the firebird and prove its provenance, Nicola seeks out Rob, a man from her own past—a man gifted with the power to envision history from just being in proximity. A man she once may have loved.
Nicola easily enlists Rob to join her in her quest to prove the firebird’s provenance. Rob, a kind-hearted policeman, is more interested in developing Nicola’s talents and possibly rekindling their relationship. Together they travel from seaside Scottish ruins, to rainy streets where a Belgian covenant once stood, to the palaces of St. Petersburg.
Anna’s story is more intriguing than Nicola’s present day quest. A child born during the Jacobean Rebellion, she’s been hidden away from her parents’ powerful enemies. Allies faithful to her family’s cause—a grandfatherly colonel and a mysterious soldier— whisk her away when danger nears. Clever Anna makes her way in her ever changing worlds, finding strength, family, and love in times where no one is who they seem.
I found the tales of the Jacobites who fled to Russia to serve Their King James in the Russian courts of Peter the Great interesting, as that is a slice of history I don’t recall studying thoroughly. And, as you may know from my previous reviews, I love learning something while engrossed in a work of fiction.
Kersley supposedly continues some story lines from her previous novel, The Winter Sea. (I’ve yet to read it, so I won’t mention anything as it may be a spoiler.)
The Firebird will appeal to lovers of historical fiction. It’s elements of paranormal and romance are far from overwhelming, and this would be a lovely read to pair with a cup of tea on a chilly day.
The Firebird is the She Reads July book club selection.The wonderful women at She Reads are giving away FIVE copies of THE FIREBIRD. One reader will receive this book and four more of Susanna’s novels.(Again, thanks to the wonderful people at Sourcebooks). Visit SheReads.com today for your chance to win, and throughout the month to discover more about the book, the author, and other fabulous summer reads!
by Susanna Kearsley