I love Susanna Kearsley’s writing – there’s usually a touch of the paranormal, a richly researched and detailed historical story, an equally strong modern thread, all done in her smooth and easy style. I think this one – The Firebird – is one of her very best and really shouldn’t be missed by anyone who enjoys dual time narratives. Even better, this book is currently available for only £1.99 for Kindle (check before clicking).
Nicola Marter has the hidden ability to touch an object and discern both its history and the details around the lives of its owners. When a woman brings a Russian wooden carving of a firebird, without any historical provenance and so without obvious value, into her place of work as a dealer in Russian antiquities she is able to see the reasons for the woman’s desperate need for the item to provide a source of income. While Nicola has paranormal abilities, the powers of her former partner Rob McMorran are greater, and together they set about trying to establish the story behind the carving. Their quest takes them from Scotland to Belgium, then to St Petersburg and back to the Jacobite community surrounding the court of Empress Catherine in the early 1700s.
As with Susanna Kearsley’s other books, the timeshifts are perfectly achieved and the historical detail is richly detailed and meticulously researched. I found the author’s note on the historical background quite fascinating, and she mixes real and fictional characters with consummate skill. There are two strong love stories – and the political intrigue of the 1700s is totally absorbing. I also liked the echoes of Sophia’s Secret (this book really is a sequel) and The Shadowy Horses, but there’s no need to have read either earlier book to thoroughly enjoy this one as I did.