Elixir

Elixir

In the Valley at the End of Time

Summary

Set in the valley of the Mesta, one of the oldest inhabited river valleys in Europe and a nexus for wild plant gatherers, Elixir is an unforgettable exploration of the deep connections between people, plants and place

'Dark and mysterious and beautiful'
FINANCIAL TIMES

'Alchemical prose... She had me under her spell'
GUARDIAN, *BOOK OF THE DAY*

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, and 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. 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, at its heart Elixir is a search for a cure to what ails us in the Anthropocene. It is an urgent call to rethink how we live - in relation to one another, to the Earth and to the cosmos.

Reviews

  • The mark of a good book is that it changes you. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Nan Shepherd, Robin Wall Kimmerer and Jay Griffiths have all wielded that power over me, but 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. I fancy she had me under her spell from page one
    Guardian, *Book of Day*

About the author

Kapka Kassabova

Kapka Kassabova is a poet and prose writer and, most recently, the author of Elixir (2023), To the Lake (2020) and Border (2017). Border won a British Academy Prize, the Scottish Book of the Year, Stanford-Dolman Travel Book of the Year, the Highland Book Prize and the Prix Nicholas Bouvier. It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The French edition of To the Lake won the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger (non-fiction). Kassabova grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, and studied in New Zealand. Today she lives by a river in the Scottish Highlands. Anima is the final book in her Balkan quartet exploring the relationship between humans and their environment, following Border, To the Lake, and Elixir.
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