04 October 2013

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley, Book review

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (June 4, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1402276637


Two Women.
One Mysterious Relic.
Separated By Centuries.

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, it's a problem. There's no proof.
But Nicola's held the object. She knows the woman is telling the truth. 

Here are my thoughts:

With her unique signature of blending the past and the present, Susanna Kearsley takes us on a tantalizing jaunt across Scotland, Belgium and finally Russia in 'The Firebird'.
There is not one amongst us history buffs who would not enjoy the thrill of 'seeing' into the past I daresay as evident by Susanna's literary success. 
Meanwhile her intriguing stories gives us a taste of it whilst never failing to satisfy our wanderlust!

In 'The Firebird' we meet Nicola, whose linguistic skills and historical knowledge lend her a comfortable position in the art world. Nicola however has an unusual gift, one she has learned to hide from public eyes. 
When her boss introduces her to Margaret Ross, a sad and lonely woman in possession of a small carved wooden bird she believes to be of value, Nicola feels keenly a connection betwixt the artifact and the past. 
In a flash she sees Margaret's ancestor, Anna kneeling at the feet of the Imperial Tsarina Catherine, wife of Peter the Great.
If Nicola can prove the authenticity of the artifact in Margaret Ross' possession, the outcome would provide the latter with a comfort she has so far lacked in life. 
And it just so happens that Nicola is scheduled to leave for Russia...

(St Petersburg circa 1700's)

Thus begins an amazing peregrination for the young art dealer and the one person whom she knows can help her to find the whereabouts of Anna...

After reading The Winter Sea, I enjoyed finding more of its characters in 'The Firebird'. Susanna Kearsley excels at bringing history to life, in this case the Jacobites' repeated attempts to bring back the  rightful king to the Scottish throne. Her extensive footnotes are always a pleasure to delve into and learn how she came to draw her plot line.

I felt a deep admiration for the wee lass Anna who found herself in a foreign land, hiding from those who would hurt her loved ones. Her character will grip you and it will be hard to put the novel down. 
However Nicola and her friend did not seem so real to me and thus the plot line felt a little flat, particularly towards the end. Some things are just  not so believable no matter how much imagination one has...

On the whole, a pleasant diversion and rating 4 stars!

Check out also Mariana , the first of Susanna's novels reviewed here!

About the Author:

From Susanna's website:

"I had the good fortune to be born into a family of readers. My mother was reading Mary Stewart’s This Rough Magic when I was born, so it was perhaps no surprise that Mrs Stewart became my own favourite author.

I can’t remember when I began to put words on paper myself, but at seven - after reading Little Women and deciding that I wanted to be just like Jo - I started writing first chapters, and wrote continually through my teenage years..."

More can be found (HERE

Note to Readers: When I first spotted the title, I immediately thought of my daughter's  love for Nordic and Slavic faerie tales. She has collected these for years and  included below is the link to 'The Firebird', a Russian Legend you might like to read (HERE)!

Note: A Library loan, this review was not requested and reflects ONLY my opinion!

Next on my list (wish list that is!):

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (January 14, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1402258619


Emily Braden couldn't resist the invitation to join her charming but unreliable cousin, Harry, on a visit to the town of Chinon-where, according to legend, Queen Isabelle hid her treasured jewels during a seige in the 13th century. But when Harry vanishes and Emily begins to search for him, she uncovers the mystery of a different Isabelle. A mystery that dates back to the German occupation during the Second World War. As Emily explores the city, with its labyrinthine tunnels and ancient history, she's drawn ever closer to the mysterious Isabelles and their long-kept secrets...


  1. I haven't done a lot of reading recently...at least none worth writing about...only light novels to help me go to sleep. Today I am starting on a distance learning course so I had better open my eyes and get them going! The book sounds interesting. Joan

  2. A distance learning course sounds interesting, hope you will let us know more about Joan!
    I would describe The Firebird as a light novel but for the fact it is filled with intriguing historical facts which always leads me to research the subject!
    Then there is the fact I am always on overdrive when it comes to imagination...Sleep comes much later...
    All the best and thanks for stopping by,

  3. I've read three of her books and this one has escaped me! I hope to get to it eventually. I was never a fan of fantasy or time travel till I read Kearsley. She and Gabaldon changed me forever!

    1. Both are equally good Mystica, you are spot on! I am looking forward to read her latest one!


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