“The hills encircled the village with their ruined fortresses and bunkers. Yes, we are stuck in some ancient planetary darkness of our own making. The stars above show us the exit. Or the entrance. And a mountain song leads the way. I too was glad to be here, in the outer circle of this mandala, this spiral dance of the earth that weaves a spell against extinction.”

Featured on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week

The Bookseller Editor’s Choice

“The author creates a mesmerizing narrative of transformation and discovery, epiphany and “magical miracles”, […] with guides through physical and metaphysical landscapes. She also charts her deep immersion in a place that seems outside of time. A radiant memoir of wonder and revelation.” Kirkus Review

“A masterwork of travel writing fuelled by an impeccable narrative drive, Kassabova’s spellbinding volume takes the reader on an unforgettable journey through the history, people and nature of the Mesta River region in her native Bulgaria.” Waterstones

“The mark of a good book is that it changes you. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. […] 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.

Elixir is like an ever expanding lucid dream that feels corporeal and spiritual, earthy and cosmic, in which we visit nested microcosms: egg, body, village, ecosystem, valley, mountain, planet, universe. The vibe is […] mildly hallucinatory at times, occasionally ecstatic, but etched with the pain of ecological and cultural loss. You might say that Kassabova keeps our feet so firmly on the ground that we find ourselves sinking, becoming interpenetrated by fine roots and fungal mycelium, breathing spores, phytoncides and the exhalations of other lives until we are indistinguishable from them.” The Guardian

“Exceptional.” BBC Wildlife

“Ms Kassabova envisions possibilities of healing, ranging the mountains in pursuit of connections between inner and outer worlds, between the body and Nature, pain and history. The rather extraordinary thing is that she allows her book to grow and swell, like a symphony, expanding and deepening its themes until the traditional wisdom and life of the mountain envelopes you entirely. Rather like a spell, in fact.” Jason Goodwin, Country Life

“Kassabova’s book…provide[s] a glorious cycle of stories and personal testimonies… Gradually we realise that Mesta represents a living fortress for the author’s evolving values. The valley and its surroundings are an embodiment of natural diversity, given that the Rhodope region is one of the most intact landscapes in Europe, whose wolves and bears are recurrent characters in the book. Yet Pomak friends and interviewees represent something equally important…Uplifting and beautifully written.” Mark Cocker, The Spectator

“Her ability to bring out the best in her subjects is born of a genuine horror at the unsustainability of the ways we live and the toll they are taking on places such as the Mesta valley. But Elixir is not a lecture […]. Like the forests and fells it inhabits, it is by turns dark and mysterious and beautiful. Ecologically minded writing can often tell too much and show too little, but Kassabova sensibly lets the landscape and locals do the talking.” The Financial Times

“Subtle prose that mingles empathy with perspective.” The Economist

“Somehow, in an alchemical process that involves stirring together vast knowledge of plants, history, spirituality, magic and local folklore, Kassabova has mastered the art of tying together inner and outer landscapes.” David Robinson, Books from Scotland