cover image The Unfinished World

The Unfinished World

Amber Sparks. Norton/Liveright, $16.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-63149-090-3

The images tumbling from Sparks’s mind in her extraordinary second story collection (following May We Shed These Human Bodies) are fantastical and sublime, whether she is unveiling the secret life of a janitor working in a space station, exposing the heart of darkness in a twin who is set on revenge, or—as in the title novella—pairing two lovers in the 1920s who have widely diverging backgrounds. In present-day, historical, and fantasy settings, the author is assured; her spare but colorful prose takes the reader on journeys of longing and mystery, often into uncharted territory, all the while capturing setting and character in a few words—“Teesa is one of those people who substitute scarves for personality.” As Sparks explores the glory of a daughter killing a werewolf in “Take Your Daughter to the Slaughter,” the tenderness of the man who builds “death houses” in “For These Humans Who Cannot Fly,” or the obsession of a time traveler in “Thirteen Ways of Destroying a Painting,” the breadth of her imagination never ceases to amaze. (Jan.)