Book: The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy (Paranormal), Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Historical fiction was my first love of reading; it hooked me and ruined me for books of any other genre for quite some time. I read dozens of historical fiction novels, hoping that each one would be better than the last. So naturally, this happened:
…And I swore off historical fiction for a while. It took an author like Susanna Kearsley to remind me why I fell in love with the genre in the first place. I picked up The Firebird immediately after finishing its companion novel, The Winter Sea. As a side note – I highly recommend reading The Winter Sea as well, if not first, but you don’t have to in order to understand The Firebird.
Synopsis: The novel deals with dual story lines of past and present, the latter starring Nicola Marter. Nicola can touch objects and see visions of those objects’ journeys, which is a gift she keeps a secret. Her job working for an art dealer brings her into contact with a wooden carving – known as the Firebird – that allegedly belonged to Russia’s Empress Catherine. Although there’s no proof, Nicola knows the truth, which sends her on a quest to prove the Firebird did in fact belong to the Empress.
Enter Rob McMorran, Nicola’s hunk of a Scottish ex-boyfriend with similar yet superior psychic capabilities. Unlike Nicola, he doesn’t keep his gifts a secret. Rob agrees to help Nicola see into the Firebird’s past, which ultimately leads them to St. Petersburg, Russia. Some telepathy ensues, and Nicola and Rob are forced to deal with all sorts of unresolved feelings.
Back in the eighteenth century in the midst of the Jacobite risings, a young girl named Anna is thrust into a life on the run. With their abilities, Nicola and Rob are able follow Anna from childhood to young adulthood and bear witness to her love, loss, and her relentless conviction to protect those she loves. There’s also an Irish rogue named Edmund involved.
Thoughts: The historical aspect of The Firebird is clearly well researched, yet not bogged down with mundane details. Kearsley tells you what you need to know about the historical context while keeping you engaged.
Although told from Nicola’s perspective, Rob carries the contemporary storyline; he’s charming and unapologetically sure of himself. Nicola can be irritating at times, but it’s far from impossible to sympathize with her. The paranormal aspect of their relationship may be offsetting to some readers, but I found it fascinating. If anything, it heightens the romantic tension; I caught my breath every time Nicola had an unguarded thought about Rob.
The historical storyline was the most gripping for me, particularly because of how much I loved Anna. About halfway through, I was clamoring for more of her story. Easily the heroine of the book, Anna is unyielding in her determination to protect the family she never knew. Her relationship with the smoldering Edmund is thoroughly entertaining. Overall, I think I was more invested in Anna’s story because of her connection to The Winter Sea.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction with paranormal aspects. The end of the book left me wanting more, and – unusual for me – there were some happy tears.