Monday, July 01, 2013

Review: The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
Series: Slains, #2
Sourcebooks Landmark
June 2013
Format: Paperback, 539 pages
Source: Publisher/She Reads

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 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.

My thoughts: This is now my second Susanna Kearsley book and I am hooked! I've had a few of Susanna Kearsley's books sitting on my Nook for a while now - having picked them up either for free or on sale - but it wasn't until the She Reads Book Club picked The Firebird for their July book club pick, that I got a chance to read any. Having been told that it is actually the second in Susanna Kearsley's Slains series, I had to read The Winter Sea first - which, luckily I already owned.

The Firebird is in part a continuation of one of the stories from The Winter Sea. Both books are told using dual timelines, effortlessly moving back and forth between today and the past. While I am not a huge fan of the supernatural/paranormal elements in general, it is the use of these elements that allow the two story lines to make sense and work together to create this wonderful tale.

I loved how the modern-day storyline is linked with the historical storyline. In the modern day tale, we follow Nicola and Rob, who, using their gift of psychometry (the ability to learn an object's past by simply touching it) trace the past of a firebird carving.  In the historical tale, we learn about Anna Jamieson's story as she moves from Scotland to Ireland and eventually ends up in St. Petersburg.

I admit that I do not know much about the Jacobites rebellion and Russia in the 18th century. Following Anna's story, we are given a glimpse into this time period and Susanna Kearsley is able to weave her fictional characters into known events in the lives of real historical figures. I am definitely interested in reading more about this time period.

While this book is not solely characterized as a love story, there are two romances that we are able to watch develop - one in the present-day timeline between Nicola and Rob and one in the past involving Anna. At times, it seems the romances almost mirror each other, maybe because the more Nicola learns about Anna, the more she begins to identify with her.

There is a twist in Anna's story that, without giving anything away, is easy to miss. As I was reading, I did question the identity of one character about halfway through the book and was happy to have been proven right at the end. 

As I mentioned earlier, The Firebird is the second in Susanna Kearsley's Slains series, but it is my understanding that it can be read as a stand-alone. Having the time to read The Winter Sea (book 1) first, I will say that I appreciated Anna's storyline a little more because I knew what had happened earlier in her life. I don't think this is necessary to follow Anna's tale, though.

I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be picking up Susanna Kearsley's other books. Have you read any of her books? Do you have a favorite?

The July Book Club Selection from She Reads is The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
and they have a great giveaway going on over at the She Reads website courtsey of Sourcebooks - they are giving away 5 copies of The Firebird. One of the five lucky readers will also win four other Susanna Kearsley novels. Head over there and leave a comment for your chance to win! 




  1. I loved The Firebird too. This was the third novel I read from Kearsley who is now one of my favorite authors. I have the Winter sea which I must get to soon.

    1. I enjoyed The Winter Sea...what others of hers did you read?

  2. Dang that is two of you! I am going to have to give this a whirl.

  3. This is the second glowing review of this book that I've read this morning! It really does sound wonderful. Thank you for link to the giveaway!

    1. It really is good...good luck with the giveaway!

  4. Can't wait to read this. I loved The WInter Sea and The Rose Garden. I'll probably go for this one next. I also have The Shadowy Horses on the kindle. Can you tell I'm a fan?

    1. I loved The Winter Sea, too (review will be up soon!) and I think I have The Rose Garden on my Nook...just need to find time to read it. I'll be getting her other books, too, I'm sure...she really is a good writer!

  5. I've seen reviews of this book all over the place today and I'm curious now.

  6. This was the first Kearsley book I read and I loved it. I look forward to reading more of her books and fortunately have several on my kindle and bookshelf!

  7. This sounds like a great book and a great group you read it for! How did you end up becoming part of their blog network? And do you have to read the selected book every month or do you just participate when you want to?


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