... by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand - The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams.
It seems like a long time ago that Fitz and Gabby were together, with his work on extinct species about to make him world-famous. Now, it's his career that is almost extinct.
Suddenly, though, the beautiful Gabby is back in his life. She wants his help in tracing the history of The Mysterious Bird of Ulieta, a creature once owned by the great 18th century naturalist Joseph Banks.
It soon becomes clear that Fitz is getting involved in something more complicated - and dangerous - than the search for a stuffed bird. And to solve the puzzle, he must uncover the identity of the extraordinary woman Banks loved - a woman who has disappeared from history as effectively as he specimen he is hunting.
....... From the outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE: That Thursday evening I was working late, removing the skull of a dead owl.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: As his debts grew she felt the trap closing, yet even as she watched her father edging towards ruin she was aware of her love for him like a sharpening pain.
You know how you sometimes read a book, and though it is readable enough, it is just lacking a certain something or other. Well, this just about sums The Conjuror's Bird up.
A mixture of fact and fiction, past and present, this is an interesting first novel all about love, loss and the search for a mysterious bird, a blend of "part thriller, part love story, part quest" as the blurb on the back cover tells us.
The interweaving of two stories within the one book is, in places, quite complicated as the author alternates between the totally fictional story of 'Fitz' Fitzgerald and the partly factual story of Joseph Banks.
Slow to start, The Conjurors Bird does gather a certain amount of momentum but still stops short of being an enthralling story. As for the characters, these are colourful enough but without fail you are left feeling unfilled by them, wanting (no, needing) to know more.
Not just about the search for the Bird of Ulieta, I found the story for the search for Banks' Miss B much more appealing and readable.
Ex-library stock, this novel was purchased at our local library.