The Alchemy of Sorrow: A Fantasy & Sci-fi Anthology of Grief and Hope was a gamble because I was only familiar with one author, Intisar Khanani. I like anthologies because I get to explore authors I haven’t read before in short bites. I love Khanani enough that I knew her story would be worth the whole anthology. I did love her “Twice-Domesticated Dragons,” and I also loved several of the others stories as well.
I read a lot of advance reader copies, which means that in the last year or more I’ve read a lot of books written during the pandemic. Grief has been a big part of my reading, even when it isn’t the center of the story. It was cathartic to go into a book knowing that it was going to be 13 stories about grief. I didn’t have to wonder if grief was going to sneak up on me, or punch me in the face as soon as I turned the page (figuratively, because 99% of my reading is digital).
As a culture, we don’t deal well with grief, death, loss, chronic illness, or disability. Or a lot of other things, apparently. I realized a long tome ago that when I cry for one grief, all of the other griefs that I haven’t dealt with swim to the surface. It can be overwhelming. While I try to let myself feel emotions as they happen, the last few years have my personal landscape has been hit by plagues, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, a hurricane, and a meteor strike. It’s hard to sit with your feelings when you’re on a highspeed rollercoaster that won’t stop. I knew that done right, some of these short stories would leave me a sobbing mess. Having read the anthology over several days, I feel like I’ve let go of a lot of sorrow.
Most of the short stories were engaging, a few ripped my heart out. I was grateful for the content warnings for each story at the beginning of the book.
I got this as an advance reader copy from Crimson Fox Publishing and NetGalley. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.