[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.