Boldly blending fables and myths with apocalyptic technologies, Amber Sparks holds a singular role in the canon of the weird. Having garnered acclaim for her shimmering collection The Unfinished World, she reaches uncanny heights with And I Do Not Forgive You. In prose that beats with urgency, these contemporary stories read like the best of fairytales—which are, as Sparks writes, just a warning disguised as a wish.
In “Mildly Happy, With Moments of Joy,” a friend is ghosted by a simple text message; in “Everyone’s a Winner at Meadow Park,” a teen precariously coming of age in a trailer park befriends an actual ghost. Indeed, the depths of friendship are examined under the most trying circumstances.
Humorous and unapologetically fierce, other stories shine an interrogating light on the adage that “history likes to lie about women”? as the subjects of “You Won’t Believe What Really Happened to the Sabine Women” (it’s true, you won’t) will attest. Sparks employs her vast knowledge of the morbid and macabre in “The Eyes of Saint Lucy,” in which a young girl creates elaborately violent dioramas of famous saints with her mother. And in “A Short and Speculative History of Lavoisier’s Wife,” the great efforts of French chemist Lavoisier’s widow to ensure his legacy are chillingly revealed.
Taken together, this hypnotic and otherworldly collection seeks to reclaim the lives of the silenced. And what is history, Sparks asks, but the chance to dig up our skeletons and give them new stories? Humorous and unapologetically fierce, And I Do Not Forgive You offers a mosaic of an all-too-real world that too often fails to listen to its goddesses.