Monday, October 7, 2013

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley | Book Review

TITLE: The Firebird
AUTHOR: Susanna Kearsley
PUBLISHER/YEAR: Allison & Busby / 2013
SERIES: No (The Winter Sea contains some of the same characters)
SOURCE: Purchased with my own  money

Goodreads / Author's Website

I haven't been having the best luck with Susanna Kearsley novels recently. She was my hands down all time favourite author for years and then I picked up a few books that just didn't hit me in the same way. Maybe the love was gone? Luckily, that's not the case The Firebird brought everything I love about Kearsley's novels back into focus. History, mystery and romance are woven together to create a compelling story that had me absolutely riveted until the end.

Nicola Marter is a psychic, she can touch an object and see into its past, but she does everything she can to ignore her gift and live a normal life. However, a woman brings a small wooden bird to the art gallery where Nicola works, trying to sell it. She claims that it belonged to Russia's Empress Catherine, but has no proof. Nicola can sense that the woman is telling the truth, but needs help proving it. She teams up with Rob McMorran, a former love interest, whose psychic abilities exceed her own. As they travel through Europe into Russia, they see into the past, and find the history of this bird, following a young girl named Anna as she navigates the years following the Jacobites attempted revolution.

I am such a sucker for the dual timeline set up in books. I love it; I can't get enough of it. Normally I end up disappointed because one story line is more interesting than the other, but in the case I was engaged by both the modern and historical lines.

Nicola is this super driven women who's basically trying to repress a part of herself to fit in. Is it frustrating at times? Of course it is, but that didn't stop me from empathizing with her. She was trying to do the right thing and she grows over the course of the novel. I have to say, the best part of the modern story line was the love interest. Rob is one of those perfect men you can only ever find in a novel. He's a small, coastal town police officer. He's confident with who he is. He cares deeply for Nicola despite their history and her embarrassment over their psychic abilities. He drops everything to help her and he just sounds really handsome on top of it all. He's kind and patient and helps when he can. It's things like that that make me jealous of fictional characters sometimes.

The historical story line was kind of heartbreaking. Anna was a small child during the Jacobite revolution. Her father disappeared and her mother sent her to live with the neighbours for her own safety. She was raised as one of the neighbour's own children that is until she has to leave the only family she's known, again for her own safety. She travels through France and Belgium, trying to escape those that would capture her to get to her family due to their involvement in the revolution. Anna's story is at times heartbreaking, but she never gives up hope. She's such an inspirational female character. I have no idea how realistic it is; this time period was not my area of focus in school, but I was so engaged with Anna's story that I didn't care. Of course, she has a love interest too, but I was less interested in that than I was in Anna. With or without a male character supporting her she was a completely engaging character. Can I just say I love seeing that in a novel.

As with all of Kearsley's novels, you need to be able to suspend your disbelief. There's always a touch of paranormal which I love, but I know some people have a hard time with it. I don't think it overwhelms the story as the characters are so well drawn that it never becomes a distraction. Kearsly is so talented at making history come to life. After putting down The Firebird I found myself wanting to know more about this period in time which has to be one of the best things any type of historical fiction can do. I have nothing but praise for The Firebird and would encourage anybody interested in historical fiction or the paranormal to read it.

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