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Jun 10, 2013

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

Effortless storytelling
The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley (a sort of sequel to The Shadowy Horses)
Historical Timeslip
Sourcebooks Landmark, June 4 2013
Paperback 544 pages
Review Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for this review, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 4.5 stars

Nicola Marter was born with a gift: when she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. When the gallery she works in receives a wooden carving she can see the object’s history and knows that it was named after the Firebird, the mythical bird that inspires an old Russian fairytale and was once owned by Russia’s famed Empress Catherine.

Nicola’s investigation into the Firebird’s origin draws her into the 1715 world of Anna Logan and leads her on a quest through Scotland, France and Russia, unearthing a tale of love and sacrifice, of courage and redemption.

After reading of young Robbie in The Shadowy Horses, I had been eagerly anticipating The Firebird as Rob is now a grown man but still happily using his sight to peek into the history that he stumbles upon. The story follows Rob and Nicola as they both search for a woman during the 1700's which would help give answers to a woman they would like to help. Their search for Anna consists of Nicola and Rob traveling to the places they believe Anna Moray to be, and using their paranormal gifts they are able to 'watch' Anna's life unfold during her childhood and adulthood. The Scots talk that was so endearing in The Shadowy Horses comes alive again with Rob's voice, only this time he exudes a powerful but sensitive masculinity that keeps us wanting more of his story and his voice.

It becomes a timeslip novel as we are sucked into Anna's historical world, with Captain Graeme, Captain Jamieson and Vice Admiral Gordon during the tumultuous era of Jacobite uprisings and exiles and traitors. There are quite a few historical threads and settings, from a convent at Ypres to St. Petersburg as we - along with Rob and Nicola - trace Anna's intriguing path which is full of intrigue, suspense, romance and sorrows. Anna is the star of the show, yet the contemporary relationship between Rob and Nicola doesn't detract from the story, which is different from other timeslips that we read where we would prefer to get back to one storyline over the other. Each of the characters all had something to like and something to give, and we wanted to learn as much as we could within these pages. Some of the actual history bits were like a cat's string - baiting me to learn more but the book itself didn't uncover overly much of the historical facts that were actually occurring. I am very intrigued with Russia, St. Petersburg, Peter The Great and will now seek to learn more because of the glimpses I've had through this book.

Kearsley's writing is so fluid and descriptive that every word was a pleasure and after reading the author's note I see that some of the historical characters were also in The Winter Sea which I have yet to read but definitely have very good reason to now. This was a wonderful story that will create new Kearsley fans, but I do hope that readers get to read The Shadowy Horses (& maybe even The Winter Sea) first so that they can better appreciate the background to the story. Let the record show that I am not a reader of paranormal, or timeslip novels, but if it's a Kearsley novel I'm all over it. Once I read a few more of her works I am sure I will be listing Susanna Kearsley as one of my favorite storytellers.