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The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
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The Firebird (edition 2013)

by Susanna Kearsley

Series: Slains (2)

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2962137,920 (3.91)21
Member:bookofsecrets
Title:The Firebird
Authors:Susanna Kearsley
Info:Sourcebooks Landmark (2013), Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:paranormal, historical fiction

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The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

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Nicola is a buyer for a prestigious London art gallery. She also carries within her a secret, innate gift of psychometry: merely by touching an object she can draw forth scenes involving people and places from its history. When a woman asks for assistance in verifying the authenticity and provenance of carving that according to family lore had been given to one of her ancestors by Empress Catherine of Russia, without thinking Nicola reaches out to touch it. She is immediately struck by a vision of the Empress Catherine speaking to a young woman named Anna. Nicole now knows that the carving is genuine, but how can she prove it without revealing her secret to the world? Seeking advice and possibly assistance, she heads first to see Rob, an old friend with similar talents.

In The Firebird, Susanna Kearsley spins another compelling tale that is ingeniously and seamlessly woven into the loose ends of The Winter Sea, the first novel in this series. How I love a good historical mystery! I also must repeat the sentiment expressed in my review of the first novel: That my library categorizes this novel as primarily a romance is doing it a disservice, making it invisible to a greater potential audience. This fantastically detailed story could definitely stand alone (though perhaps not be quite as enjoyable) minus the romantic story line. ( )
  ryner | Jun 2, 2014 |
Firebird is the third novel by Susanna Kearsley that I have had the pleasure to read. Her novels mix Historical Fiction with the paranormal for an extremely intriguing read. The Firebird in this novel is a small craved wooden bird passed down through generations of a woman who wished to sell the object to the art deal who our protagonist, Nicola works. Unfortunately the piece of art is worthless without documentation that the bird once belong to Empress Catherine, wife of Peter the Great of Russia.

Nicola has a secret talent which helps in determining if a work of art is a fake and when she touches the Firebird, she see a woman named Anna receiving the Firebird as a gift from Empress Catherine. She can not explain this vision to Margaret Ross, the owner or her boss but she is determined to help Margaret prove its worth. Nicola will be traveling the next week to Russia on business and plans on researching the bird but needs help.

Two years ago Nicola entered into a paranormal study and scored high on the scale but not higher than a Scottish Policeman. The two become friends but as they grew closer, she ran. Now she needs his assistance. She seeks him out and convinces him to travel with her on her search for the truth.

The first clue tracks Anna to the same castle from the novel, "The Winter Sea", to Belgium and finally to Russia. Their journey bring forth a look into the 18th Century Russia full with details of times. Ms. Kearsley's novel makes history come alive with Russia at this time and examines in depth what become of a group of loyal Jacobites. It is an extremely fascinating read. ( )
  Gingersnap000 | May 6, 2014 |
Spanning three hundred years between its two storylines, The Firebird offers up a nice twist on the typical time travel adventure. The present is told by first person narrator, Nicola, an art dealer with a gift for being able to see the history of anything she touches. She and Rob, her even more talented friend, who wants to be more than just a friend, set out on a journey of psychic sleuthing, to prove a small carved bird was actually passed down from the Empress Catherine, widow of Peter the Great.

The past, told in third person, is navigated by Anna, the original recipient of the firebird. We follow her from her narrow escape from Scotland, as an engaging and precocious child, surrounded by a world of political intrigue she is too young to grasp, to her young adult life in St. Petersburg. The author skillfully captures eight year old Anna’s voice and thoughts, showing the character’s child-like understanding of the events that swirl around her, in stark contrast to the assumed perspective of the adults, to great effect.

Filled with beautiful description, the style of writing is relaxed introspection and interior with a healthy disregard for ‘active’ writing and rules about adverbs. Kearsley has a fondness for words like darkly, warmly, thickly; all those lovely words the grammar fascists insist be deleted from drafts. And it works, creating a calm and dreamy flow of narration that perfectly fits this time transcending tale.

(Excerpt)

And yet, when they had been admitted to the neighbor’s house and met the man himself, a cheerful man the same age as the colonel with a lively, smiling wife to keep him company, and Anna had been washed and settled in beneath a mound of woven blankets on a palette by the kitchen hearth she did not want to close her eyes, because she knew that if she slept and woke it would be morning, and the stay of execution would be over.
(end excerpt)

The developing romance between Nicola and Rob, and the mystery surrounding Anna were a delight to follow. The beautifully detailed history and descriptions of St. Petersburg—where I’ve never been, and know nothing about—were of great interest and delivered up in palatable small bites.

At 526 pages, The Firebird, by Susanna Kearsley is a long, delicious read. In Kearsley I’ve found a new favorite, one whose body of already published work will keep me happily reading for many months.

I read and reviewed this book for She Reads.
( )
1 vote CynthiaRobertson | Apr 1, 2014 |
Nicola Martin is a London art dealer with a secret. When she touches an object, she sees glimpses of its past. Because of her family's history in oppressive Russia, she keeps her gift a secret. Then a woman comes to the gallery with a small wooden firebird, hoping it will bring her enough money to fulfill her dream of traveling around the world. When Nicola touches it, she gets a glimpse of a scene from the time of Peter the Great. However, her boss tells the woman her Firebird isn't valuable. But Nicola knows the woman is dying of a hereditary disease and decides to do her own investigation. But for that she needs the help of someone whose psychic talents are stronger than her own. She turns to Rob McMorran, a young Scottish policeman she once knew.

I've read several books by Susanna Kearsley and she is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors. So far, her books have been set in Britain, so Firebird, with its Russian theme, seemed a departure. But as I began reading, familiar characters popped up. I was delighted to meet the grown-up Rob, whom I first met as a fey child in The Shadowy Horses, and who is just as charming as an adult. And as he and Nicola continue to follow the trail of the Firebird, we learn the story of Anna, the child born to 18th c. characters from The Winter Sea.

Nicola and Rob follow Anna's wanderings from Scotland to Belgium as she is brought to safety with her Jacobite uncle. Later she becomes ward of Admiral Thomas Gordon and travels with him to St. Petersburg where he helps Peter the Great build his Navy.

Kearsley does a good job of interweaving the historical and contemporary stories. I found the glimpse into the Jacobite community in St. Petersburg a fascinating piece of unknown history. ( )
  flightsafancy | Feb 2, 2014 |
I had to DNF this book. I've read one other book by this author, Winter Sea, and I really enjoyed it. It had some supernatural qualities but not outrageously so. The Firebird just went too far. Not some subtle qualities, bu MC's with full on telepathic powers. Boring, heroine was too quiet. Just too much. I guess this is part of her genre and I just got lucky with the first book being closer to my style. ( )
  bookmagic | Nov 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Successfully blending a contemporary romance with an historical adventure is no easy task, but in The Firebird, author Susanna Kearsley goes one step further, bestowing supernatural abilities upon her protagonist. ... As Nicola and Rob follow clues from Anna’s life, the novel’s focus shifts to the young girl, and the present-day love story is put on the backburner. The shift is so pronounced that scenes featuring Nicola and Rob in the second half of the novel seem jarringly out of place. The rich details of Anna’s story, which includes the appearance of several historical figures, carries the novel, while Nicola’s story pales in comparison.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 140227663X, Paperback)

Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. When a woman arrives with a small wooden carving at the gallery Nicola works at, she can see the object's history and knows that it was named after the Firebird-the mythical creature from an old Russian fable.

Compelled to know more, Nicola follows a young girl named Anna into the past who leads her on a quest through the glittering backdrops of the Jacobites and Russian courts, unearthing a tale of love, courage, and redemption.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:23 -0400)

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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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