Aliya Whiteley's The Beauty was published by Titan Books in January 2018.
Information about Aliya Whiteley:
Aliya Whiteley writes novels, short stories and non-fiction and has been published in The Guardian, Interzone, Black Static, Strange Horizons, and anthologies such as Fox Spirit's European Monsters. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice, and won the Drabblecast People's Choice Award in 2007. Her writing is often violent, tender, terrifying and funny. It has garnered much critical praise and provoked discussion.
Click here to visit her official website.
Information about The Beauty:
Somewhere away from the cities and towns, in the Valley of the Rocks, a society of men and boys gather around the fire each night to listen to their history recounted by Nate, the storyteller. Requested most often by the group is the tale of the death of all women.
They are the last generation.
One night, Nate brings back new secrets from the woods; peculiar mushrooms are growing from the ground where the women’s bodies lie buried. These are the first signs of a strange and insidious presence unlike anything ever known before...
Discover the Beauty.
A REVIEW OF ALIYA WHITELEY'S THE BEAUTY (TITAN BOOKS EDITION)
Aliya Whiteley's The Beauty is the first book that I've reviewed twice, because I feel that it deserves a second review due to the fact that this new edition (published by Titan Books) contains an additional story that is excellent and worth reading.
I consider Aliya Whiteley's The Beauty to be one of the utmost best and most original weird fiction books ever published, because it's a masterpiece of modern weird fiction and imaginative storytelling. In this book, beauty and frailty interlink with terror and perversion in a unique way. I applaud the author for her bravery to write speculative fiction that is boldly different, deeply unsettling and strikingly original. She's one of the few authors who dare to explore difficult themes in a transgressive and thought-provoking way.
The title story, "The Beauty", tells of a post-apocalyptic society of men and boys where all women have died because of a fungus plague. The members of the society gather around the fire each night and listen to tales recounted by their storyteller, Nate. Nate's stories keep alive the memories of what has happened. Nate has witnessed signs of change and regeneration in the graveyard where the women's bodies lie beneath the soil, because mushrooms form outlines of the buried women. One day Nathan meets a strange yellow, spongy and limbed thing in the woods. This strange creature has the shape of a woman.
Nate is a fascinating protagonist, because he tells stories to his fellow men. His stories reveal what has happened and how things have changed since the women died of the plague. The other characters are also interesting and the author writes fluently about their actions.
In my opinion, Aliya Whiteley's vision of a post-apocalyptic world is fascinatingly harrowing and haunting. As the events begin to unfold, the author steers her story towards enticing heights of strangeness that are often left unexplored. She examines metamorphoses, parasitic fungi, gender roles, social dynamics and leadership issues in a mesmerising way.
"The Beauty" can be seen as the ultimate reading experience in fungal horror fiction, because it's a an unsettling story about a strange fungal presence. It's totally different from normal horror fiction due to its unapologetic way of chilling the reader's heart and mind with brilliantly disturbing imagery.
The additional story, "Peace, Pipe", which is exclusive to this edition of The Beauty, is an excellent story about communication between a human being and an alien being. It demonstrates the author's versatility as a writer, because it's different from "The Beauty", but has a few connections to the themes explored in it.
In this novelette, the unnamed narrator has been quarantined after a space mission and starts to hear an alien voice coming from behind the wall. The voice belongs to a being called Pipe, a mysterious water-based life form. Pipe is unlike any other alien species the narrator has come across, because it learns fast and is highly intelligent. The narrator is intrigued about Pipe and the mystery that surrounds it.
I was fascinated by this novelette, because the author explores how human beings could establish communication with different life forms and how they could come to understand them. I like the author's way of addressing the difficulties involved in reaching a sufficient level of understanding, because she does it well.
What makes "Peace, Pipe" unique is that Aliya Whiteley plays intriguingly with the idea that Pipe may not be an alien being after all, but merely a gurgling water pipe making strange sounds. This impressed me, because the possibility of everything being only imagination adds a brilliant touch of strangeness to the story.
Aliya Whiteley's literary prose will entice everybody who appreciates beautiful storytelling and literary fiction. Her prose is not merely subtly beautiful and wonderfully nuanced, but also emotional and heartbreaking. She writes captivatingly about strange happenings and delves deep into hidden wells of weirdness that are seldom explored by speculative fiction authors. I admire her writing skills, because she effortlessly evokes a sense of strangeness and pays attention to creating an unsettling atmosphere. Her fiction has a harrowing and unsettling edge to it that will impress readers.
The Beauty is a prime example of why speculative fiction is a powerful force to reckon with and should not be overlooked by anybody. It contains bold ideas and unforgettable imagery that you will never find in mainstream fiction, and what's best, it's filled with beautiful literary prose that highlights the strange happenings.
If you yearn to read something amazing, unsettling and heartbreaking, I advise you to take a look at Aliya Whiteley's The Beauty, because it's a unique masterpiece of literary weirdness from a gifted author with a stunning and original voice of her own. This book belongs to everybody's bookshelf who loves the darker and weirder side of speculative fiction, because the title story is simply amazing. The additional story, "Peace, Pipe" serves as a wonderful counterbalance to the strangeness of the title story, because it's fascinating and heartbreaking in a different way. Trust me when I say that literary weird fiction doesn't get any better than this, so make sure that you'll read this book as soon as possible.
Very highly recommended!