The Phoenix and the Firebird

The Phoenix and the Firebird is a middle-grade historical fantasy I co-wrote with my wife Alexis Kossiakoff. Weaving Chinese and Slavic folklore, our novel draws from the story of her grandfather who as a young boy escaped St. Petersburg in the throes of the Bolshevik Revolution to China, living years there as a stateless White Russian until emigrating to the United States. His tale has always called out to be told, even if only as the seed of something which ultimately took on a life of its own.
More on the (fictional) story: In 1917, Lucy Markov, 12, is sent to live in Peking while her father fights in the Russian Civil War. After three years, he travels to join her – only to be abducted by a notorious warlord. To save him and foil the warlord’s plot to conquer the city, she and her steely Chinese friend Su, 13 – a girl as quick with quotations of ancient poetry as with her fists – take matters into their own hands. Braving the criminal underworld, crossing a haunted forest, and making unlikely allies, they at last reach the warlord’s stronghold and confront his army of human and supernatural forces in a final showdown. And through all this, the girls discover the real meaning of friendship, family, and home.
The Phoenix and the Firebird is expected June 2024 from Earnshaw Books.

Advance Praise

— Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked
“A Peking caught between an imperial city and a new republic; a world where harsh reality mingles with myth and magic. Warlords, exiled Russians, gangsters, a child in search of her father. There are worlds within worlds in old Peking - real and imagined. Kossiakoff and Crawford bring them all together and to life.”
— Paul French, New York Times bestselling author of Midnight in Peking and City of Devils
Immersive and captivating, the hidden treasures within the pages of this multi-faceted historical fantasy will enchant readers of all ages. The seamless weaving together of Chinese and Russian folk-tales makes for a lush tapestry of mythic resonance; foregrounded by an immensely human tale of the search for lost family, and the finding of friends in unexpected places. Lucy and Su are likeable, relatable heroines, and the backdrop of 1920s China is as evocative and enchanting as the mythic figures that help and hinder the two friends on their journey.
— Viki Holmes, author of Girls' Adventure Stories of Long Ago
Crawford and Kossiakoff guide us on a magical journey through Chinese and Russian folklore that is welcoming to readers of all ages. It’s like an epic film that has come alive on the page.
— Susan Blumberg-Kason, author of Bernardine’s Shanghai Salon
‘The Phoenix and the Firebird’ is an exquisitely written, deliciously fun, and often moving historical fantasy novel that follows Lucy, a brave young refugee of the Russian Civil War, on her quest to find and free her captive father. The story transports us to an early 20th century China of myth and magic: Along her journey from Beijing into an eerie forest and beyond, Lucy will encounter a fascinating, terrifying, eye-popping array of figures from traditional Russian and Chinese folklore, all of whom are brought beautifully and viscerally to life by co-authors Alexis Kossiakoff and Scott Forbes Crawford. Kossiakoff and Crawford have surrounded their plucky, unforgettable protagonist with an equally compelling cast of side characters, most notably Lucy’s brilliant, talented, but surprisingly vulnerable friend Su; indeed, the warm, funny, and heartfelt friendship between Lucy and Su is the thread around which this heart-pounding adventure story is woven. Readers with any familiarity with Russian and Chinese fairy tales will find so much to delight in here; readers without, so much to discover. Richly steeped in these mythologies, ‘The Phoenix and the Firebird’ is a gripping, touching story about sacrifice, bravery, belief, and the meaning of home, that will enchant and mesmerize readers from middle-grade to adulthood. Highly, highly recommended.
— Kristen Loesch, author of The Last Russian Doll
Russian sojourner Lucy in chaotic warlord-ruling China embarks on a perilous feat to rescue her father from a warlord’s clutches, with the help of her witty Chinese friend Su. Mythical friends and foes appear to aid and thwart their attempt. One can’t but root for the two undeterred friends. The magical story, told in melodic prose, held this reader rapt with wonder throughout! An absolute gem of a read!
— Alice Poon, author of The Heavenly Sword and The Earthly Blaze