Over millennia, across the seven seterras of Aligaea, twelve women—the Anima—develop powers akin to apex predators. Along with their bestial strength and speed, they inherit the Task to restore ecological Order to the world. Yet fulfilling the Task seems improbable as the Imperium spreads a plague of ecocide and despotism across the land, ushering in the apocalypse with its infectious Disorder.
Stout and smart Freda Johansson leaves behind a promising career, love, and community to seek the red-capped mushroom capable of turning her into the final Anima. Whether it’s plant magic or free will guiding her from emerald forests to austere peaks, she doesn’t care. She only needs to find the mushroom before the Imperial Forces can seal the catastrophic fate of the planet.
The sacred balance of Life depends on the birth of the Anima—but even then, she must choose to own her powers as both woman and wild beast.
KELSEY K. SATHER lives in Montana. Her stories explore the complexities of human-nature interconnections. While an author of nonfiction essays for over a decade, fantasy remains her first and true love.
She received an MA in Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah. At the University of Montana, she received the Davidson Honors College Scholar Distinction in Creative Writing and Environmental Studies.
After teaching at the university level, Kelsey co-managed a writers’ collective for four years, where she facilitated creative writing workshops for all ages. She’s also worked as a skiing and climbing instructor, as well as a baker. When she’s not writing, she enjoys mountain sports and spending time with friends and family.
Learn more at kelseyksather.com.
"In Kelsey K. Sather’s powerful epic fantasy novel Birth of the Anima, generations of women fight to restore the planet to her natural balance.
More than two thousand years ago, Avni, the fifth Anima, helped to save her people from dire servitude. She was followed centuries later by Bazi, who stopped a renewed incursion of occupiers. Bazi was followed by Oili, a princess whose destiny was greater than being someone else’s bride; and Oili was followed by Erie, who married above her station and had to flee her home.
Across millennia, these women assume the redemptive role of the Anima, an elemental feminine force with the power to defeat rapacious conquerors. Even when their enemies operate under different banners, each serves the same purpose: to sow disorder, and to separate people from the natural freedoms that are every being’s inheritance.
Closer to the present, after the Imperium has claimed most land masses on the planet and squelched magic, a doctoral student, Freda, finds a scroll during an archaeological dig. It hints at the Anima’s origins, and its secrets propel her into a quest to learn the truth about the ancient ways. She may even become the twelfth and final Anima herself—if fate doesn’t have other plans.
The novel plays upon a painful dichotomy of empowered womanhood: even the Anima, who has the ability to change the world, makes considerable sacrifices to fill her role. The novel’s women want to be mothers, lovers, daughters—even just free; the forces that they stand against prevent them from pursuing individual happiness, though. Generation upon generation, their wrenching sacrifices grow.
Though for the last Anima “the future remains unwritten,” Birth of the Anima is a feminist fantasy novel with a serious hook."
-- Michelle Anne Schingler, Foreword Reviews
"An epic tale that takes us through the ages and through places that feel so real you would think they actually are. Vivid. Inspiring. A testament to the earth we live on, the physical and soulful power of the female body and the possibility that lives within each of us. BIRTH OF THE ANIMA is a book for always but especially for NOW, this time, this moment we are all living. I was captivated, couldn't put it down. Read it in the dark with a flashlight while humming my young children to sleep. Read it, read it, read it."
-- Molly Caro May, author of Body Full of Stars and Map of Enough
"A richly imagined and fully realized world that develops right from the start, BIRTH OF THE ANIMA grabs you from the first page and doesn't let go. Sather has created not just a new world, but one complete with a complex, raw history. The book tackles themes of belonging and otherness against a backdrop of a natural world in peril. The story is detailed and unflinching, and the connection to the characters and their interwoven stories is fluid and fast-paced. Anxiously awaiting the sequel."
-- Maggie Slepian, writer and co-founder of backpackingroutes.com