The Ruby Bird

Fiction - Cultural
66 Pages
Reviewed on 09/27/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite

The Ruby Bird is a beautiful brooch made of rubies and emeralds. Hundreds of years ago, the Maharajah of India presented it to Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, when he married his third wife. She placed it in a jeweled box and never wore it. When the Sultan’s seventh wife found the brooch, she ran to the Sultan and pinned it on his turban. After the Sultan’s death, his palace became a museum and many riches from the Ottoman Empire were displayed. One night, the watchman stole the brooch off the turban and sold it on the black market. Author Billie Atamer begins the tale in 1957, when Mark Stephens inherits the brooch upon the death of his parents, in the novel The Ruby Bird. Mark’s mother placed a letter with the brooch, instructing him to return it immediately to the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, Turkey. She tells him it is cursed and has brought only death and destruction to its owners. The story continues…

Based on a true story, this fictional work follows the curse of the Ruby Bird. This adventurous tale is well written and fast paced. The reader is engaged from the first page, when Mark is given this strange inheritance and immediately leaves on the quest, until the end of the story. And the reader is never sure how, or where, the story will lead – and how it will end. Another intriguing aspect is how several cultures and their beliefs are represented in modern times. The Ruby Bird, written by Billie Atamer, is truly fascinating. It is a gem!

Viga Boland

What do black cats, walking under ladders, opening an umbrella indoors, stepping on a pavement crack or breaking a mirror have in common? They’re all associated with sinister or ominous portents. And if you’re a reader who enjoys stories based on sinister superstitions or ancient curses, you’ll enjoy this short read, The Ruby Bird, by Billie Atamer. This novelette is actually based on the true story of a priceless ruby and emerald bird brooch that once adorned a Sultan’s turban. After the Sultan’s death, the brooch was stolen by a museum night watchman, following which it passed from one person to another. Unfortunately for many, what was also passed along with the beautiful, ornate gemstone studded brooch was a curse it would carry until it was returned to its rightful owner.

It isn’t long after readers start The Ruby Bird, a cultural fiction story, that we see the curse working. Another good person meets an untimely death en route to return the brooch which has brought his family endless pain. When the lovely Lalee finds the brooch in the sand near a beach, her father immediately sets out to find its owner. Will he and Lalee, and the others who step in to help them, succeed in what they all agree must be done? Or will the Ruby Bird and its curse take still more victims?

Apart from the bit of mystery woven into this tale, Billie Atamer uses this story to give readers a wonderful look at the culture, clothing, settings and food of other places, primarily Turkey. The descriptions are colourful, rich in details, and create graphic visuals. Some readers might find the customs and dialogue a tad awkward, but it’s all in keeping with the culture being presented and helps with authenticity. A quick read with an ending that isn’t quite one. Or is it? Enjoy!

Asher Syed

The Ruby Bird by Billie Atamer begins with a glimpse into the mystery of a famed brooch, a jewel-encrusted ruby bird that had been gifted to Suleiman I of Turkey by an Indian Maharajah. Centuries later, in the museum situated within the heart of Topkapi Palace, the brooch disappears from its place on Suleiman the Magnificent's turban, where it had perched as part of a gloriously robed effigy of the Ottoman ruler. Atamer then teases with a piecemeal history of the Ruby Bird as it shifts through the hands of unfortunate inheritors – both intended and unintended – and where possession comes with a heavy price as the reader follows it across the globe in a suspenseful journey to Istanbul.

Fresh from a vacation to Istanbul myself where I toured Topkapi Palace, its museum, and visited the tomb of Suleiman the Magnificent, Billie Atamer's fictional story, The Ruby Bird, immediately piqued my interest. I appreciate that the narrative focused on the 20th century, following the aftermath of the theft and its curse, with all of the suspenseful twists and turns I hope for in a mystery...and one of the most spectacular aspects of this gem of a novella is the tension it offers up by the bundle. The story ends with the tying up of loose ends while still hinting at the possibility of a second installment, something I hope to be true, as finding a book that satisfies at the level that this one does can be as rare and valuable as a Ruby Bird.