Readers who enter The Unfinished World themselves arrive from “the new,” the “modern,” but the stories again and again encounter “the oldest things”—they return to awe.

The Huffington Post: “…she invents her own otherworldly motifs, like a werewolf-hunting tradition shared by fathers and daughters, or a paleontologist exploring the surreal wonders of the West. Each story has its feet firmly planted in the real world, but serves as an epicenter for swirling fantasies.”

Paris Review: “So many of these stories read in this spirit: as observational field notes for Sparks’s characters, with narratives that arise only from the delicate reportage of their eccentricities. Every scene is, almost always, softly and meticulously arranged, like tableaux of preserved butterflies. And yet, as real as these characters are, everything about The Unfinished World remains somehow fantastic, dreamed up in Sparks’s own terror of an imagination…”

The Washington Post: “Sparks uses the surreal and fantastic in stunning, surprising ways. Like Carola Dibbell’s “The Only Ones” and Emily Mandel’s “Station Eleven,” the book is a masterful work of speculative fiction.”

The New York Times: “Sparks’s stylish second collection is the work of a young writer whose voice feels far wiser than her years, as she engages with ancient themes: the Greek myths, the rituals of death, the small tokens that lovers trade over a lifetime of experience. Sparks has no fidelity to realism; she plays with both fantasy and form. No one story sounds like another, yet her singular voice floats through the collection, tying it together with opulent prose that draws heavily on history and the macabre.”

The Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Sparks recognizes perverse mythology uncovers the most innate truths about human nature and connection. When the stories you’ve been told aren’t enough, make up your own. Forged in an evocative and sensual fire, these tales transcend tradition to shine new light onto timeless complications.”

Chicago Review of Books: The Unfinished World and Other Stories entices readers through its fabulist premises, but the pleasure gleaned from the stories isn’t cursory: it’s meticulous, the kind of joy that crawls under your skin and lives for days, driving you mad for more.”

The Rumpus: “Sparks’s stories are like these uncanny objects contained within them: the impossible looking out through the eyes of the ordinary.”

Bookforum: “Readers who enter The Unfinished World themselves arrive from “the new,” the “modern,” but the stories again and again encounter “the oldest things”—they return to awe.”

The Masters Review: “Sparks’s short works are exquisitely crafted and entirely unique.”

LitReactor: “Sparks blends the lines between dreams and wakefulness, the living and the dead, and speaks to all of us who get caught somewhere in the middle, unable to choose which world we belong to.”

Sparks’s stories are like these uncanny objects contained within them: the impossible looking out through the eyes of the ordinary.

JMWW: “There is something about these stories that makes them so familiar, like my mother’s hand on my forehead, yet so fantastic and even a little dangerous.”

Electric Literature: “Sparks proves that often what is most compelling in fantasy situations is their normalcy; we can’t out-invent our baser desires, even in fiction.”

Barnes & Noble: Sparks deftly brings whole fantastic worlds to life in the space of as little as a few short paragraphs.”

Vol. 1 Brooklyn: “Amber Sparks continues to evolve as an idiosyncratic storyteller, offering nineteen stories that crisscross genre and mood and that elevate her to the upper echelon of young American short fiction writers.”

Powell’s Books (for Indie Next): “The beautiful stories in Sparks’ debut collection have an ephemeral quality that is difficult to categorize. Comparisons can be made to Haruki Murakami or George Saunders, but the writing is honestly unlike anything I have ever read. The otherworldliness of these stories will transport you beyond the minutiae of your everyday life and alter the way you look at the world.” —Shawn Donley

Publisher’s Weekly, Starred Review: “The images tumbling from Sparks’s mind in her extraordinary second story collection (following May We Shed These Human Bodies) are fantastical and sublime…. 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…. [T]he breadth of her imagination never ceases to amaze.” 

Kirkus Reviews: “Sparks’ stories, too, function much like the curiosities in the cabinet: finely wrought, strange, and sometimes inscrutable. When Inge wonders, “Was the world crowded with ghosts?” the collection answers for her: yes. Luckily for readers, we have Sparks to guide us through the underworld. Stylish and deeply imagined.”

Karen Grikitas: “Amber Sparks has created an extraordinary collection of tales that go far beyond everyday experience. Some of the stories are strange, fantastical and seemingly not of this world, touching on mythical themes, while others, although grounded in the real world, have a haunting quality that is at once moving and disturbing.”

It’s Either Sadness or Euphoria: “You’ll be intrigued, you’ll be moved, you’ll shake your head at Sparks’ creativity, but most of all, you’ll get to witness her storytelling talent and her deft skill with language and imagery first hand.”