Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
Series: Companion to The Winter Sea
Published: April 30th, 2013
Publisher: Touchstone
484 pages (paperback)
Genre: A blend of contemporary and historic fiction
Acquired this book: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Book Depository || Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

{Read my review of The Winter Sea}

Whoever dares to seek the Firebird may find the journey — and its ending — unexpected.

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 first Empress Catherine, it’s a problem. There’s no proof. Sebastian believes that the plain carving — known as “The Firebird” — is worthless. But Nicola’s 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.


*While The Firebird is technically a companion, I’d personally call it more of a sequel and would recommend reading The Winter Sea first.*

You guys. This book. My heart. *sigh*

I honestly don’t know where to begin. I guess first I’d like to thank the amazing Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me this book as an unsolicited ARC because if they hadn’t, I might never have read The Winter Sea, and in turn, never read The Firebird, it’s companion. And that would be a crime because these books…I honestly don’t think I can do them justice in a review. I attempted a coherent review with The Winter Sea, but having just finished The Firebird, I’m a jumble of emotions, and it’s so rare that a book can do that these days.

I said in my review of The Winter Sea that the book single-handedly rekindled my love of historic fiction. I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in another of Kearsley’s worlds, knowing the setting would be rich and vibrant, and as I journeyed with both Nicola and Anna through time and multiple countries, I fell in love with Kearsley’s writing all over again. She has a gift for seamlessly weaving the present with the past and creating a story that is breathtaking in its details, revelations, and characters.

And, oh, the characters. I thought it would be hard to top the characters in The Winter Sea, but I think I might just like Anna even more than I liked Sophia. Anna was strong, fearless, and selfless. She would do anything for the people she loved, and even sacrifice her own happiness to protect them. I was so happy to be reunited with Colonel Graeme and see his affection for Sophia pass to young Anna. Captain Jamieson was sweet and gentle with an air of mystery about him, and I loved his interactions with Anna as a little girl, and the promises he made to her (I get choked up just thinking about it). I won’t mention other characters by name because it seems a bit spoiler-y, but it was nice to see other familiar faces as well, and I adored Edmund as Anna’s love interest. He challenged her in more ways than one - he spoke freely and wasn’t the gentlemanly sort she was used to, but I liked that he was a bit rough around the edges, and I found myself falling for the sexy, roguish Irishman. He challenged Anna, and it was clear she was up for the challenge.

As with The Winter Sea, the historic aspects of The Firebird were my favourite. I couldn’t wait to be transported back to eighteenth century Russia to be reunited with Anna and learn her fate. I enjoyed the present-day parts too. Nicola was a great character, and while I thought Carrie’s story in The Winter Sea was more of a vehicle for Sophia’s story, it felt like Nicola’s story was really thought-out and fleshed out. She started out uncertain and embarrassed by her abilities, but with Rob’s help and encouragement, she grew to not only accept her gifts, but hone them, and it was nice to see. I also really enjoyed the romance between them, and I felt their connection from the very beginning. It’s no secret I’m a sucker for a Scotsman, and I fell hard for the ones in this book.

On a purely emotional level, I would give The Firebird 5 stars. I loved it so much, and I know these characters and their stories will stay with me for a long time. However, on a more critical level, I don’t feel I can actually give it those full 5 stars. The story started out a bit slow and there were times when it really dragged. It took me almost two weeks to read this book, and I’d like to say it was because I was savouring each detail, but it was more because there were times I felt like I was slogging through. I enjoyed the whole story, don’t get me wrong, but it felt like it could have been shorter. However, the last half or so of the book really picked up and it got to the point where I didn’t even want to go to bed because I was finally enjoying the story so much and I wanted to find out what was going to happen.

The Firebird is a beautifully written story with characters that practically leap off the pages, a story that alternately broke my heart and healed it, and a pair of romances (or a trio, more accurately) that made me fall in love. This book made me laugh, made me cry (I seriously bawled happy tears through the last 30 or so pages), and made me certain that Susanna Kearsley has a talent like no other.

Have you read The Winter Sea or The Firebird? What did you think? Have you read any of Kearsley's other books? How about books set both in present day and the past? Do you enjoy historic fiction? I want to hear from you!

1 comment:

  1. Dang, maybe I should read these. Sounds wonderful! Great review, Marie. :)


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