The Firebird is July’s She Reads Book Club pick. Part historical fiction, some magical realism, romance, and a mystery- this book has much that can and will appeal to a variety of readers.
Nicola has a gift (or a curse as she sees it sometimes). She can touch an object and see things from it’s past. Nicola works for an art dealer, Sebastian, in London. A woman comes in desperate to see this little bird- a bird that she claims to have belonged to Empress Catherine at one time. Sebastian is interested- but since there is no proof- he cannot buy the bird. Nicola, though, before the lady leaves, touches the bird. Instantly she has a vision of Empress Catherine telling a girl named Anna “You were never a nobody”. She knows the bird is what the woman claims- yet, she can’t reveal what knows without revealing her “gift”.
Nicola, shaken, thinks about what to do next. She goes in search of a person that she knows from 2 years ago- a man named Rob. He has a gift like Nicola- yet, he does not regard it as a curse. When Nicola and Rob meet again- the reader finds out about their history- and that there is still something unfinished between them. Together, the 2 of them embark on an adventure- an adventure that is designed to prove the truth about the firebird.
While on this adventure, with both Nicola and Rob using their gifts- they learn about this mysterious Anna. Her background, her story, how and why Nicola had a vision of her with Empress Catherine. Told in alternating tales, what Anna lived through and how her life was and the story of Nicola and Rob – The Firebird takes the reader from past to present and through a multitude of historical references.
Partly a romantic story, party a historical fiction, a few dashes of magical realism- The Firebird opens the reader to a world they may never have dreamed of knowing- and a story, Anna’s story, that they are better for reading.
Conflicted. The little synopsis about this book had me intrigued. I began reading- and the first chapter or so, I was intrigued. Interested. Curious. Then Nicola goes in search of Rob- and I encounter a dialect that I’m not familiar with. Words such as “Aye, Ken and more”. I re-read the sections, and essentially get the meaning. Yet, it’s distracting to me. I find myself in a reading groove- and then the Scottish dialect rears it’s head. I continue, though, partly because I want to know what happens. Anna has caught my interest. Nicola and Rob have caught my interest.
The story continues and I faithfully read- I’m learning quite a bit as the book is well researched- and yet, the amount of characters is almost hard to keep up with- some are mentioned at 1 point- and then not mentioned again for nearly 200 pages. I found myself wishing I’d made a note of each character. Then, when I’m about convinced that it’s not the book’s fault, it’s me- some books just don’t capture my attention- I start getting a bit more caught up in the story- Anna’s older, her story is growing more and more interesting as the pages go. The interactions between Nicola and Rob are better- the unfinished history between them is apparent. Even the Scottish dialect is not distracting me. I flew through the last 100 or so pages- dying to know what happens next. Who can be trusted, who can’t be- what will become of Anna?
With the ending being as strong as it was- it definitely ended the book on a positive note (for me!) I liked how things were revealed bit by bit- and how the author used misdirection at times. However, it took several pages for me to get to this point- and honestly, if I’d borrowed this book from a library- I’d have returned it before I finished it. In the end, I’m a better person for having read this- for sticking with it. For learning about an unfamiliar author to me. My advice for you, if you decide to read this, is to know that it’s slow moving- it will get to a point that the reader has to know what happens next- but it takes it’s time getting there.
* This book was provided to me by She Reads in exchange for a fair and honest review. The above opinions and thoughts are mine alone.