[499]: The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Simon & Schuster | ARC paperback, 539 pages | June 4th, 2013 | Series: Slains, #2 | Adult Historical Fiction | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


If this was borrowed from the library, I’ve probably amassed quite a hefty fine by now. I received this ARC a long time ago, but have only read it last week. The hazards of stockpiling books is that one would never know you had the book in the first place if you’re not careful – or organized for that matter. I’m kicking myself for not reading this book sooner for it was everything I look for in historical fiction, and more.

Nicola Marter has learned to hide her gift of psychometry. It was ingrained in her since she was a child that people finding out her abilities can lead to ridicule. She knew no one would understand how she was able to see into an object’s history with a single touch. And while she takes great strides to hide her abilities, the opposite can be said for  Rob McMorran. His abilities is that he can see history plays out if he were to set his mind to it. Like a film that rolls out whether he likes it or not. He can also converse telepathically. The crux of their problem while they were in a relationship, was that Nicola refuses to acknowledge her real self. While Rob is as real as he gets.

After years of being separated, Nicole reached out to Rob to help her track down a wood carving. Together, they will travel across Europe in the hopes that they can find irrefutable proof of The Firebird’s origin. The carving in the shape of the mythical firebird was believed to be from Catherine the Great, who had such an affinity with an Scottish girl that she’d bestowed her a gift.

The novel takes the readers in an adventure starting in modern-day London, Belgium and Russia as they follow the ghost of one, Anna Moray. Believed to be orphaned at first, she grew up in the care of other people who were sympathetic to the cause of those trying to reinstate King James to the Scottish throne. Anna’s family were, first and foremost, an instrument by the cause and a target to the English. Anna’s caretakers took painstaking means to hide her identity. Because if she was found, the English would go to great lengths to use her against her family. 

Though The Firebird is rich in history, it was never a beast that would normally burden the non-historical aficionados. It was well-researched, and came across as authoritative without being pompous. And for fans of historical fictions, this book was such a delight. It gave me a taste for the Jacobite Rebellion and a peek at the Russian Empire of the 1700s.

For romance readers, this book features two; simultaneous, but set in two time periods. In the present time, Nicola and Rob had recently reunited after Nicola ran away from Rob because she wasn’t ready to own up to her abilities as much as Rob could, and would. Their relationship wasn’t that strenuous at first, but it wasn’t long until they realize they would revert to the same issues as they had before. Rob wanted Nicola to be herself, and Nicola is determined to hide who she truly is.

The second romance is one that involved Anna and a known scoundrel, Mr. Connor.  I must admit that I enjoyed reading about them more. I like how contemptuous their relationship was at first. But you can’t deny how much he admired Anna. She was spunky, smart, independent, and she doesn’t back down from any political debate or challenges.

The Firebird is a book that you need to savour. But for some reason, I wasn’t able to. I sped through this hefty, over 500-pager of a book in as little as two days. That hasn’t happened in a while. All in all, a fantastic book that gave justice to the opulence of the Russian empire, and the struggles of the Scottish regency sympathizers.

  • Wow! I love that this book involves a lot of travel… I haven’t left Australia as yet, so it would be great to see some places like this. And two romances you say, sounds interesting!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

  • this is one of those kindle daily deals that i bought AGES ago! Really want to try Kearsley but other books always get in the way :))) It sounds absoutely fabulous, J.!

  • This is the first time I hear about this book, but a heroine with the gift of psychometry sounds really intriguing. Great review, Joy, thanks for sharing!

  • I’m really trying to look for more historical fiction books and this sounds really good and written. and 1700s Russia sounds interesting~ I really love the adventure this seems to give. I’m adding this on my TBR 😀

  • I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this one! I’m pretty sure it’s a sequel to one of Kearsley’s older books which I loved so I’m quite curious about this one as it features the daughter of that couple (I think?). Lovely review and I’m definitely bumping this up my TBR because a double romance and a historical time period are the BEST combination. 😉

  • I LOVE historical fiction that doesn’t seem tedious to get through, I like the history but there is a point where it can become too much. The setting sounds awesome and I’m loving that cover. Nice review!

  • Each time you mention this, I get more excited! Historical fiction that’s clearly done well, without being intimidating, is the best kind. 🙂

    It always seems that the best books are the ones that you leave sitting on your shelf for years before you pick up! That keeps happening to me.

  • I would say, at least you got around to reading the book now! So good on you for that. I love that cover <3 And I mean LOVE love, it has my favourite colours all over it! As well as that, I love a good historical fiction and this one sounds like it has all I need and more. I will definitely check it out.

  • Isn’t that always the way of it? The book that sits on your shelf the longest ends up being the best of the bunch. You’d think we’d change our way of thinking, but nooo. I think we’re suckers for self-abuse. Procrastinate, then kick our own ass. LOL!

  • YES I AM GLAD YOU READ IT 🙂

    I also was more interested in Anna’s and Mr. Connor’s relationship, and the history was amazing! I think the reason I picked up The Firebird first was the psychometry, but in the end I wasn’t interested in that side of the story compared to the history 🙂

    Awesome review Joy!

  • Shit! Id read this! I am lo inf historical fantasy more and more! I don’t think its as heavy here? Sounds like its subdued? I don’t care! I enjoy this.time perios

  • I enjoyed it too 🙂

  • Psychometry sounds fascinating. And I love how the book uses places and time periods that aren’t all that common in historical fiction. Fabulous review!

  • Great review Joy. <3 So happy that you loved this book so much 😀 It do look pretty gorgeous. <3 Still not for me 🙁 BUT ONE DAY. One day I shall want to read all the books. I hope 😀 Thank you for sharing about this great looking book sweetie. <3

  • This sounds really promising, Joy! I added it to my Goodreads list and will hopefully buy it once my credit card is usable (need to wait for a few days before I can use it, bleh :P) I love how it give you that Russian feel! I don’t think I’ve seen a lot of historical books set in another country other than UK, France, or early 1900s US x_x Will have to check this out. It’s a MUST now!

    Faye at The Social Potato

  • Is the first I heard of this book, it sounds really good, I´m intrigued by it.
    thanks for the review.

  • “Though The Firebird is rich in history, it was never a beast that would normally burden the non-historical aficionados.”

    So glad to know that Joy! I don’t read a ton of historical fiction, mostly because I fear exactly what you said above – that I’ll be weighed down with facts and won’t be able to get lost in the story. That doesn’t seem to be the case at all here, so maybe I need to give this a try!

  • I love when a book completely surprises you and you just end up loving it! This sounds like it was a fabulous read!

  • This sounds great, Joy. I’ve never heard of this author, but this intrigues me quite a bit. I like that they go to all these different places and 2 romances at that? I’m in!
    Lovely review!

  • Fantastic review! I just read my first Kearsley last week, The Winter Sea, and it sounds like I should read this one as well, especially since Anna Moray is in it! The Russian Empire of the 1700s sounds pretty interesting…I’ll be adding this one to my TBR list.

  • I like to have different period stories lmainly when it’s well done! It’s the first time I hear about this one but I’m curious about the character’s gifts and to see how they handle that. Thank you lady for the discovery!