Nicola Marter has a gift, a rare talent that she keeps hidden from most people she knows: when she touches an object, she can see its history – where it came from, who else has touched it, everything. When she meets a woman trying to sell a small wooden bird, called “The Firebird”, claiming it was once the property of Russia’s Empress Catherine, she knows immediately upon holding the object that the woman is correct. But there’s no proof. So Nicola enlists the help of an old friend and former flame, Rob, and the two of them go on a journey to find just the proof Nicola needs to enable this desperate woman the ability to sell The Firebird for what it’s truly worth.
I’m so thankful to the ladies at She Reads for picking The Firebird for our July selection! I’ve been wanting to read Susanna Kearsley for what seems like forever, and this was the exact push I needed to finally pick up one of her novels. And let me tell you, The Firebird absolutely lived up to the high expectations I had about Kearsley’s work.
There’s something so beautiful about the way Kearsley blends history, fantasy, and romance seamlessly, leaving me wondering why more authors don’t attempt this kind of novel. I truly haven’t ever read anything like it – it’s an impeccably researched, solid piece of historical fiction, with a huge brush of the fantastical element drawn through it, with the perfect amount of romance for good measure. After finishing this novel, the one thing I know for sure is that I will be reading more of Kearsley’s books to continue enjoying her unique style.
I really liked these characters. Anna, the historical character, begins the novel as a child and grows up tremendously over the course of the book, giving the reader a great opportunity to get to know and fall in love with her. And that’s exactly what I did – she charmed me from the start and I couldn’t help but root for her to find the love and comfort of a true home by the time the novel was over.
And Nicola! I just liked her so much. There’s a point towards the end of the novel where she makes an important choice, a choice about who she wants to be in the world and about not letting others define her, and I was just so proud of her in that moment. It was like I invested all this time and energy into her character, so when she showed true growth as a human being at that point, I was just so happy to be a part of that journey.
I’ve seen a few reviewers who didn’t appreciate the present-day romance that Kearsley threw in the novel, but I have to say that I disagree with them. I actually liked the romance a lot – it didn’t seem overdone or too much at all, it was the perfect amount of tension and it culminated in a very satisfying way. For me, this element simply enhanced what was already a great story.
So The Firebird really worked for me! And I’m so pleased about that because I’ve been eyeing Kearsley’s books for so long now. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction, romance, and/or for those who like slightly fantastical elements in books. It’s a great story with great characters and great writing. What’s not to love?