Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Book and Audio Review: The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

The Firebird

Susanna Kearsley
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
Series: The Slains (Book 2)
Publication: Sourcebooks Landmark (June 4, 2013)

Description: Two Women. One Mysterious Relic. Historical fiction with romance, betrayal, and magic you'll never forget.

Art-dealer Nicola Marter was born with a gift so rare and dangerous, she kept 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, there's no proof.

But once Nicola holds the object, her buried talent gives her surprising insight. She knows the woman is telling the truth.

Trying to keep to her hard-won job, Nicola sets out to confirm the fascinating history of The Firebird with help from a man she never thought she'd see again.

The Firebird is a sweeping historical romance that will whisk you from London to Scotland to St. Petersburg in a magical, century-spanning epic about the dangers and rewards of being true to yourself.

My Thoughts: This book follows a double timeline. Nicola Marter is a modern woman who works with art. She has a bit of a leg up because she can touch an object and see its history. She is keeping this ability secret largely because she inherited it from her Russian grandfather who fled the Soviet Union after being forced into to experiments using his gift. He has raised her to hide and deny her talents. She also inherited an interest in Russia and Russian art. 

When a woman named Margaret Ross comes to the gallery where she works hoping to sell a carved Firebird that she says was given to her ancestor by Empress Catherine of Russia in the 1720s, Nicola holds it and sees a vision of the exchange. Yet the Firebird comes without mark or providence and there is nothing to prove its history. Nicola would like to help the older woman who has lived a life in service to her relatives and has her heart set on a world cruise before she herself dies.

When Nicola was a student, she took part briefly in some psychic experiments of her own and met Rob McMorran who had a much stronger psychic gift than her own. They began a relationship but Nicola ran from him because she was afraid of her gift and his. Now she wants to track him down to see if he can help.

Rob agrees and together the two of them begin their travels to track down the young woman who is Margaret Ross's ancestor. I think that most of the story is that of Anna which begins as Rob and Nicola find the castle she lived beside and see her as a child living with some friends of her mother's. They follow her from Scotland to Ypres to Russia and watch her grow up steeped in the Jacobite cause. They see a young girl who never has a home or a family except the one she builds among strangers. While there are dangers in Anna's life, she has always been loved and cared for by the people she lived with. 

And they see Anna who finally settles on the last name of Jamieson to honor one of the men who brought her from Scotland to Ypres as she travels to St. Petersburg and meets Edmund O'Connor and falls in love with him. O'Connor is a man of mystery and an actual historical figure that the author chooses to paint as a hero. 

I loved the way the story moved from the present back to the 1700s. Both groups of characters were intriguing people and people a reader can identify with and sympathize with. The narrator did an excellent job with the accents and pacing of this story. I liked her ability to portray the ages of the characters with her voice.

Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this wonderfully written and narrated story. They will also enjoy the author's notes at the back telling about her research and which of the characters were real and which were a product of her imagination. I also like that some of the characters in this story make other appearances in the author's other books.

Favorite Quote:
Most skills are learned. Or at the very least, developed. If I handed you a cello, would ye ken the way to play it? No. But given time and practice, ye could learn.

You're an optimist. It came out as an accusation. Anyway, it's not a good analogy. You're working with a cello. I've just got a ukulele.
I bought this one for my Kindle April 6, 2014 and got the audiobook very recently. You can buy your copy here.

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