June 17, 2013
Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes sees images, glimpses of those who have owned it before. It’s never been a gift she wants, and she keeps it a secret from most people, including her practical boss Sebastian, one of London’s premier dealers in Russian art.
But when a woman offers Sebastian a small wooden carving for sale, claiming it belonged to Russia’s Empress Catherine, it’s a problem. There’s no proof. Sebastian believes that the plain carving—known as “The Firebird”—is worthless. But Nicola has held it, and she knows the woman is telling the truth and is in desperate need of the money the sale of the heirloom could bring.
Compelled to help, Nicola turns to a man she once left and still loves: Rob McMorran, whose own psychic gifts are far greater than hers. With Rob to help her “see” the past, she follows a young girl named Anna from Scotland to Belgium and on into Russia. There, in St. Petersburg—the once-glittering capital of Peter the Great’s Russia—Nicola and Rob unearth a tale of love and sacrifice, of courage and redemption . . . an old story that seems personal and small, perhaps, against the greater backdrops of the Jacobite and Russian courts, but one that will forever change their lives.
Have you ever read a book and thought after finishing it that the work embodied everything a work of fiction should be? That was The Firebird for me. I have read all of Susanna Kearsley's previous novels so maybe I am a bit biased. Its not often I read a book and get totally lost within it. (In a previous occupation I was a copy editor so I'm used to picking apart inconsistencies and finding errors.) The Firebird perfectly encapsulates its intention, to be a superior work of timeslip fiction.
I never thought Susanna Kearsley could out do herself either but with The Firebird she does. The present day main characters are Nicola Marter and Rob McMorran. (Although not mentioned anywhere in the novel, Rob McMorran was the boy Robbie who had special paranormal gifts in Kearsley's novel The Shadowy Horses.) The Firebird is a sequel to the historical characters in The Winter Sea...and both stories have connections to each other on multiple levels, although The Firebird works well as a standalone read. I would get frustrated with Nicola's character at times for not being stronger...and at Rob's character for not pushing Nicola enough...but then you understand their motivations at the end. Plus Anna's story in the historical part of the novel has a very satisfying conclusion to the historical events in The Winter Sea.
The story unfolds so naturally that the surprises leave you feeling wonder at Kearsley's cleverness of revealing information. I had just reread The Winter Sea and I was still caught flat-footed at times as The Firebird unfolded. Anyways its hard to discuss the story without revealing spoilers, so I think its best if you read the story yourself! Highly recommended for adult reading. Must read for Kearsley fans. This book will make you want to read her entire backlist, which I highly recommend as well.
My Rating: 5.0
The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley