With the family farm to run after her grandfather’s murder and a spiralling drinking problem Anya doesn’t think life can get worse. But when Tuoni, God of the Underworld, interrupts her breakfast to tell her that her grandfather’s responsibility’s as a Gate Keeper of Skazki has now fallen to her, Anya’s simple life falls into chaos.
Planning to write Tuoni off as a drunken hallucination doesn’t go smoothly when a stone, bequeathed to her by her grandfather, hatches into a legendary firebird. It’s sharing its body with the broodingly good looking Prince Yvan, whose dark magician brother has been seeking to destroy for centuries.
With powerful enemies closing in around them, Anya has no choice but to sober up, follow Yvan into Skazki and hope that she can learn how to control her awakening magic before it destroys her and any hope of keeping the gates to both world’s safe.
Thoughts : Cry Of The Firebird is a fantasy tale rich with spirits and shamans and an underworld in the otherworld. How exciting! The story starts at a café with Anya, the main protagonist, secretly tipping the contents of her hip flash into her coffee. An unnerving stranger stops to speak with her there and when she leaves her life is tossed about like in a popcorn butter bag.
Throughout her life Anya has been ostracised and pushed aside as someone odd to whom bad things happen. Or around whom bad things happen. And the only person who was anything to her, her grandfather, passed away a few month ago. She’s been spending the time since his funeral dinking herself into oblivion while somehow managing to take care of his farm but after this chance meeting, things change. She is given a rock that belonged to her grandfather and takes it home with her only to realise that it isn’t a rock after all. She then meets a man or is it a bird or a man bird when she does back and discovers that she isn’t who she thought she was, she is actually a very special woman from a very special family and that she has a mission that only she can fulfil.
What I really liked about this is the fact that the love story, I was really worried about insta love, didn’t go the way I thought it would. It was such a refreshing change that I actually gave a sigh of relief. Anya and this man bird, Yvan, go on a quest to try and solve the predicament of Anya’s identity and there they meet a rather interesting band of “people”. Being rather unfamiliar with Russain Fairy tales it was all a bit over my head but I enjoyed whatever bits I knew and understood, example, the Baba Yaga portions. Yes, Baba yaga features in this along with a bunch of other dark characters but just because it sounds dark doesn’t mean it was actually dark.
This felt more like a fun, chilled out YA story than a scary Tokyo Ghoul or Death note kind of story. The evil characters aren’t really evil and the writing makes this easy for anyone who scares easy to read without flinching even once. In fact this is a lot more like Inu Yasha than anything else. (Sorry for all the anime examples, I couldn’t really think of anything else to compare it with).
What I didn’t like was the pacing and the love stories. It was a bit off at the beginning and end. The beginning felt sort of hurried (maybe this was because I’m not all that familiar with Russian fairy tales?) and the ending rose to a crescendo and then fell flat for about 80 pages, rising again to a crescendo. If that portion had been edited better I think it would have been brilliant because up until then I couldn’t put it down, reading 250 pages in one sitting. And the love stories, apart from the main character, it was distracting from the story and slowed down the pacing. Moving on to what I adored.
What the author does really well is the character of Anya and the perspective shifts. Anya is a girl who has been ignored all her life and is sort of an outcast. And this shows in how annoying and needy she is all the time while turning aloof when others show her affection. This will obviously be someone difficult to deal with and that makes the story all the more interesting. And the perspective shifts were so well done, each jumping cleanly without any trace of the other character that I felt like I was watching a movie in my mind. You get to know each character like you know a friend and therefore aren’t stuck in the mind of an annoying single character. I particularly loved Katya, if you’re like me you’ll love her too.
I gave this book 3 stars. Pick this book up if you’re interested in a different take on fantasy with Russian elements that aren’t so princesses and fairytales. It also gave me twilight vibes, especially with the main pair, so if you liked that, grab this.
I got a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.