I have been remiss. This review should actually have been written prior to the last, but The Fault in Our Stars caught and hooked me like a big trout, and I wrote the review immediately upon putting it down on the tear-soaked table in the Chicago airport cafeteria.
That I was not compelled to write the review for The Firebird immediately shouldn’t be taken as a sign that I did not enjoy the book. Quite on the contrary, I stayed up far too late one night reading it and needed to go to bed immediately or risk being a complete zombie at work the next day.
Susanna Kearsley is one of three authors I’ve grown attached to in a way that no other authors have caught me. It’s the kind of love affair where you sign up for newsletters in hopes of being at the bookstore when a new book first gets put out on shelves. I have literally had to wait while shop clerks went through boxes in the back room because they hadn’t yet had time to shelve a new release. I have read every.single.one. of her books.
The Firebird is the story of a young art dealer who has the unique ability to glimpse into the past when touching an object. Her feelings towards her gift are quite conflicted: she finds it interesting, but it also makes her feel alienated from the rest of the world. Her mistrust of others has been passed on to her by her grandfather, who also has psychic abilities. Nicola’s gift leads her into a search for the story behind a statuette named ‘the firebird’, which is brought to her employer by a woman who hopes to sell the family heirloom. Unfortunately, the woman does not have anything documenting the provenance of the piece, and the woman is turned away. Nicola, however, knows the truth as soon as she touches the firebird: the piece is extremely old and valuable, with roots tracing to the Empress of Russia.
Nicola, curious and determined to help this woman, turns to an old flame to help her track down the story behind the bird and discover any existing proof of its authenticity. Ian is also a psychic – one with stronger abilities than her own. He is also comfortable with his gift, and uses it publicly. With his help, Nicola begins to explore the story of the woman to whom the bird belonged – a girl named Anna.
The book is wonderfully written – easy to read, but with careful attention to style. The plot is intriguing and extremely well researched: this is characteristic of Kearsley’s writing, as she was a museum curator in her past life. I love the historical context for the book, but she isn’t heavy handed with it – it’s extremely approachable. The characters are so well developed and the connection between the main characters is so strong that it creates a delicious pull in my stomach when he kisses her. That being said, it’s not smutty – sex happens between the lines – a grandmother-friendly romance, if you will. It’s also worth noting that the plot is not driven by romance alone, but is rather an accompaniment to Anna’s story of Jacobites, lost parents, and divided loyalties.
While not a ‘deep’ book by any means, The Firebird is romance at it’s best. It is a great book to cuddle up with on the couch or on the beach: you won’t want to put it down, and it will leave you sighing with contentment at you close it. Best of all, unlike so many of its genre, it is not slapped together with no thought to content or good writing.