“Elixir is the vibrant, beautiful story of a singular, remarkable place. It issues a call to reclaim the physical, emotional, and spiritual connection between humanity and the natural world.”–Catherine Thureson, Foreword (starred review)
Over several seasons, Kassabova spends time with the people of this magical region. She meets women and men who work in a long lineage of foragers, healers, and mystics. She learns about wild plants and the ancient practice of herbalism that makes use of them, and she experiences a symbiotic system where nature and culture have blended for thousands of years. Through her captivating encounters we come to feel the devastating weight of the ecological and cultural disinheritance that the people of this valley have suffered. And Kassabova reflects on what being disconnected from place can do to our souls and our bodies. Yet, in her search for elixir, she also finds reasons for hope. The people of the valley are keepers of a rare knowledge, not only of mountain plants and their properties, but also of how to transform collective suffering into healing.
Immersive and enthralling, Elixir is an urgent and unforgettable call to rethink how we live—in relation to one another, to Earth, and to the cosmos.
- "A radiant memoir of wonder and revelation."—KIRKUS (starred review)
- "Kassabova's narrative loops and wanders, moving from plant-based healers to the plants themselves and other natives who call the Mesta basin home. Those who enter will be willing to get lost in this beautiful and aromatic maze, in which they will find rich and sumptuous wonders."—Poornima Apte, Booklist
- “I’ve rarely been so aware of an internal change being wrought, word by word, as I have these past days immersed in Kapka Kassabova’s alchemical prose.”—The Guardian (UK)
“In her new book, Kapka Kassabova immerses herself in the remote Mesta valley in north east Bulgaria, telling the stories of a people suffering cultural and ecological disinheritance.”—The Scotsman (UK)
- "Elixir is the latest example of Kapka Kassabova’s knack for sensory and poignant nonfiction. Her previous books, Border and To the Lake, were two unforgettable adventures brimming with rich history and beautiful characters. Elixir marks another step forward as her most immersive and organic work yet."—World Literature Today