Cry of the Firebird
by Amy Kuivalainen
out October 10, 2021
ISBN:
978-1-64397-189-6
★★★★★

I'm a big fan of Amy Kuivalainen's Magicians of Venice series, which is peak smart-girl-heroine vibes (think of Genevieve Cogman's Invisible Library series, Deborah Harkness's Discovery of Witches, A.J. Hackwith's Hell's Library series, or Stephanie Mirro's Immortal Relics series) and I'm a big fan of modern urban fantasy retellings of classic folklore, so I am absolutely here for this series.

Kuivalainen originally released this series a few years ago, but after the success of her Magicians of Venice series, it is getting a total re-do. It was aquired by BHC Press and is undergoing a rewrite. I own the original edition, but hadn't read it yet. When I heard she was rewriting them, I practiced superhuman powers of patience and decided to hold off on reading them.

So, to my delight, I received an advanced reader copy of book one, Cry of the Firebird, and read it in a single day.

It was everything I'd hoped it to be.

Our heroine, Anya, is a drunk. Living alone on her late grandfather's farm in Karelia, she doesn't expect much more from her life than rough farmwork during the day and falling asleep in a vodka stupor. But one day, Death himself shows up in a nice suit and informs her that he's not the only odd creature who would be visiting her in the next few days, and that she has a magical heritage that comes with some serious obligations.

What ensues is an engrossing tale of good versus evil played out across Europe and with a quick-growing cast of companions. While the characters are well-fleshed out and relatable, it is sometimes frustrating to become invested in one character's arc and then swiftly switch to the next. However, the story never drags, and is never a bore, and when this book ended I was hungry for the next.

Strongly recommended for fans of fantasy sagas or urban fantasy.

arc received from the publisher for review