In January I read the first in Susanna Kearsley's Slains series, The Winter Sea. I loved the book but I admit that it has a somewhat bittersweet happy ending. At then end of the Winter Sea, we only have the faintest of notions about how life turned out for John and Sophia, and the fate of one character, their first born daughter Anna, is left quite open ended.
In Firebird, Kearsley returns to Slains Castle and Anna.
Nicola Marter is an art dealer specializing in Russian artifacts, with a psych gift she hides from most everyone. One day when she is asked to look at a small wooden carving of a bird, called The Firebird. The Firebird is a treasured family heirloom believed to have been given by Empress Catherine of Russia (Peter the Great's wife) to the owner's great-great-grandmother, Anna. When she inadvertently has a vision that confirms the family lore but is not able to say anything without betraying her gift. Although Nicola tries to forget the incident, she can't let it go, eventually going so far as to seek out her former lover, Rob McMorran for help.
Rob McMorran (Robbie of Kearsley's Shadowy Horses) is a police officer, whose psych gifts are much stronger than Nicola's. Rob's gift is so strong, he doesn't try to hide it, something that deeply distresses Nicola and caused a rift in their relationship.
Through Rob and Nicola's determined tracking, we learn how Anna, once hidden with a fisherman's family, comes to be in St. Petersburg as young woman. I loved seeing her grow from young innocent girl into a brave and bold young woman. Anna's story is at times heartbreaking, full of twists and turns but in the end beautiful and satisfying.
Kearsley's historical heroes and heroines always sacrifice much in service of their Jacobite cause and Anna is no exception. Kearsley never sugarcoats the cost and in this novel she focuses keenly on the impact those sacrifices had on families. Anna might be a child but at a very young age becomes aware how the commands of kings and love of family can tear someone apart. The choices she makes in response out of love are remarkable but wholly believable. The novel is an ode to the impact of small conversations and little moments to shape the course of history.
The modern and historical romances were very different kinds of romances but they were still tied together, by how complicated their relationships are and the hard choices they had to make in order to live together. Both and Anna and Rob see more in Ned and Nicola than they see in themselves. I continue to be enchanted and moved by Kearsley's subtly emotional stories.
Kearsley's The Firebird, is rich in historical detail, fascinating characters and engaging plotlines. So engaging that I had to cheat on the wonderful audiobook narrated by Katerine Kellgren, because I couldn't wait till the next car ride to know what would become of Anna next.
I have one print copy of The Firebird to give away. Leave a comment or tweet me @anacoqui, saying that you would love to read it and I will select a random winner from the respondents.