Nicola has a gift — when she touches things, she can see their histories. But she tries to hide her gift and would much rather be “normal,” so she doesn’t use it very much. She works in an art gallery, acquiring and selling special pieces. One day she happens to pick up a little wooden bird and is hit with a bit of its history, and she feels compelled to find out more. Her search takes her back to an old boyfriend, Rob, who has a similar gift, but one he uses all the time and is well known to everyone in his little Scottish village. The two end up embarking on a journey to find out the full story of the firebird and help its owner to authenticate its provenance.
Nicola and Rob end up in Scotland, Ireland, and Russia, learning about Anna, the young woman to whom Russia’s first Empress Catherine gave the carving. Readers find out about Anna’s life just as Nicola and Rob do, immersed in the past. Meanwhile, we see Nicola struggle against her gift while admiring Rob’s amazing talents and Rob himself.
The Firebird is a wonderful historical novel that weaves two stories together, past and present, and explores the beauty and occasional heartbreak of romantic and familial love. The end, which pulled everything together after an involved 500-plus pages, was so completely satisfying that I didn’t want to close the book. Even better, the book is another clean one from Susanna Kearsley. Extra bonus is that readers get to spend more time with Rob, who was featured prominently as a boy with “second sight” in The Shadowy Horses.
Rated: Mild, for a few uses of very mild language and one sex scene that’s completely “off-screen.”