Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Susanna Kearsley's The Firebird (Excerpt/Giveaway)

Today we have a special excerpt and a fabulous giveaway from Sourcebooks and Susanna Kearsley's upcoming release, THE FIREBIRD!

The Firebird
by Susanna Kearsley 
Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: June 4th 2013
ISBN 1451673825 
Whoever dares to seek the Firebird may find the journey—and its ending—unexpected.
Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes sees images; glimpses of those who have owned it before. It’s never been a gift she wants, and she keeps it a secret from most people, including her practical boss Sebastian, one of London’s premier dealers in Russian art. 
But when a woman offers Sebastian a small wooden carving for sale, claiming it belonged to Russia’s Empress Catherine, it’s a problem. There’s no proof. Sebastian believes that the plain carving—known as “The Firebird”—is worthless. But Nicola’s held it, and she knows the woman is telling the truth, and is in desperate need of the money the sale of the heirloom could bring. 
Compelled to help, Nicola turns to a man she once left, and still loves: Rob McMorran, whose own psychic gifts are far greater than hers. With Rob to help her “see” the past, she follows a young girl named Anna from Scotland to Belgium and on into Russia. There, in St. Petersburg—the once-glittering capital of Peter the Great’s Russia—Nicola and Rob unearth a tale of love and sacrifice, of courage and redemption…an old story that seems personal and small, perhaps, against the greater backdrops of the Jacobite and Russian courts, but one that will forever change their lives.
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THE FIREBIRD By Susanna Kearsley

“Not to show my ignorance,” Rob said, “but what’s a firebird?”
I smiled, and giving it its Russian name explained, “It’s the zhar-ptitsa, a bird out of folklore, with bright glowing feathers like flame. One feather would light a whole room, and it’s said that whenever a firebird’s feather falls, then a new art will spring up in that place.” I’d grown up on the old Russian fairy tales told by my mother at bedtime, but Rob clearly wasn’t aware of them. So while we drove north, I told him of the Firebird who stole the golden apples from the garden of the tsar, and made the tsar so angry that he sent two of his sons to catch the bird and bring it back alive.
“The sons were, of course, both entirely useless,” I said, “but their younger brother, Tsarevitch Ivan, waited up on his own in the garden and nearly caught the Firebird’s tail. The bird, before it flew off, dropped a single feather. Ivan picked it up and took it to his father, and the tsar was so impressed, he gave Ivan permission to follow his brothers and hunt down the Firebird, too. So Ivan set out, and ran into helpful gray wolf who devoured his horse—”
“How was that helpful?” Rob asked.
“Well, all right, that wasn’t so helpful, but all Russian folktales have dark parts. The gray wolf decided that Ivan was brave, so he offered to help him, and let Ivan ride on his back.”
Rob pointed out that, if the wolf had been thinking ahead, he would never have eaten the horse to begin with. He glanced at my face and said, “Fine, I’ll shut up. Carry on.”
“It’s a magic wolf, Rob. He runs faster than any horse ever could. Now, the gray wolf carried Ivan away to the land where the Firebird lived in a great golden cage in another tsar’s garden. The wolf told him, ‘Go get the bird, but whatever you do, don’t touch the golden cage.’ But Ivan didn’t listen, and he touched the cage, and he was caught. This other tsar, the owner of the Firebird, said to Ivan he’d forgive him, even let him keep the bird, if Ivan did him one great favor. In another land,” I said, “there was a rare horse with a golden mane. The Tsar said, ‘If you journey to that land and get that horse for me and bring it here, I’ll let you have the Firebird.’ So the gray wolf carried Ivan to the other land, and in the stables there they found the horse, and hanging near the horse there was a golden bridle, and the wolf said to Ivan, ‘Now go get the horse, but whatever you do, don’t touch that bridle.’”
Rob said, “And I’m guessing Ivan didn’t listen.”
“No, of course he didn’t. He was caught again, but the owner of the horse with the golden mane told Ivan he would forgive him and let him keep the horse, if he’d first journey to this other land and bring back the tsarevna there, Yelena the Beautiful…”
And on it went, with the patient gray wolf helping Ivan through trial after trial, sometimes by shape-shifting, sometimes by giving advice that more often than not was ignored. After Tsarevitch Ivan sat down on the ground for the third time and wept, Rob pronounced him an idiot. And when Ivan’s brothers appeared near the ending to kill him and cut him in pieces, Rob thought it fair justice.
“That isn’t the end, though,” I told him. “The gray wolf came back, and found Ivan in pieces—”
“And ate him.”
“No. He brought Ivan to life again, and Ivan went to his father’s court and reclaimed all that his brothers had stolen: the horse with the gold mane, Yelena the Beautiful, even the Firebird.”
“And what did the wolf get?” Rob wanted to know.
“Nothing, really. He just went away.”
Rob looked sideways at me, and then back at the road again.
Hiding my smile I said, “That’s not the only Russian folktale with a firebird in it, though. There is another one I know…”
“Is Ivan in it?”
“No. The hero of the second tale’s an archer, with a magic horse, and one day the archer sees a feather on the ground, a gorgeous feather, like a flame. Of course he wants to pick it up, except his horse says—”
“It’s a talking horse?”
“I said the horse was magic. Pay attention. So the horse says, ‘Leave the feather where it lies, for it will only bring you trouble.’”
“And of course he doesn’t listen to his horse,” Rob guessed, but gamely he sat back and let me tell the second fairy tale.
This one was rather different from the first. The archer didpick up the feather, true, and take it to the tsar, and as with Ivan he was sent to catch the Firebird, but after he had done that,he was sent to bring a princess from her home across the sea, and on the way he fell in love with her, and she with him. And even though the archer faced much trouble, as the horse had warned, it ended as it ought to, and the archer got the princess for his bride forever after.
“And to show his thanks,” I said to Rob, “the archer built the magic horse a stable made entirely of gold.”
Rob said, “I like that story better.”
So did I.
Rob drove in thoughtful silence for a few miles longer. “Both those stories are alike, though, really.”
“How is that?”
“The firebird drops a feather,” was his summary, “and if you’re fool enough to pick it up and chase the bird itself, you’re in for trouble.”
“And adventure.”
“Aye.” He nodded. “True enough. But what you bring back with you in the end,” he said, “might not be what you started out in search of to begin with.”

Sourcebooks if giving away 1 prize pack of all of Susann’s books (The Winter Sea, The Rose Garden, Mariana and The Shadowy Horses) to one reader. (US & CA only please.) To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love Susana's Books. Thanks for the opportunity.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  2. Susanna is a "new-to-me" author but would love to read her books in exchange for an honest review! I love the excerpt! thank your for this giveaway! nlaverdure88@videotron.ca


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