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Nominated for the Shirley Jackson and Saboteur awards, this game-changing story was chosen by Adam Nevill as one of his favourite horror short stories: “What a refreshing gust of tiny spores this novella explodes into, and I inhaled them all with glee”.
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 evening, 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.
About the Author
Aliya Whiteley was born in Devon in 1974, and currently lives in Sussex with her husband, daughter and dog. She writes novels, short stories and non-fiction and has been published in places such as The Guardian, Interzone, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Black Static, Strange Horizons, and anthologies such as Fox Spirit's European Monsters and Lonely Planet's Better than Fiction I and II. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice, and won the Drabblecast People's Choice Award in 2007. Her novella, The Beauty, was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award and a Sabotage Award, and appeared on the Honors List for the James Tiptree Jr Award.
"Teeming with the spirit of feminist speculative trailblazers like Margaret Atwood, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Joanna Russ, Whiteley's original, gut-wrenching tale renders a world that exists somewhere between post-apocalyptic and fable-esque. Her characters are as multidimensional, nuanced, and somber as her writing, which soaks the reader like a hot bath, and the novel's clever premise surprises as it evolves in an unforgettably grotesque yet thematically justified fashion, despite at times feeling slightly didactic. In short, Whiteley lives up to her various accolades (Guardian Short Story Award finalist, Shirley Jackson award nominee, etc.) with her sixth book-length effort, which channels the eerie spirit of Kelly Link and the environmental surrealism of Jeff VanderMeer. A murky delirium of sinuous language and unnerving storytelling that will delight both experienced genre fanatics and literary fiction lovers alike." - Kirkus Reviews
"Elegantly written, balancing on the line that divides prose from poetry." -Booklist
"It’s completely different story-wise, but for those who like the Walking Dead, I think they will especially enjoy this apocalyptic tale and the stress of surviving as a group. The Beauty is well worth a read. It’s engaging, makes you think, and is treading new ground." Scream Magazine
This novella should win stuff. Seriously, just read it. Original work is being done. Here's proof. **** -- Nina Allan
I was provoked, shocked, disgusted, touched and, ultimately, I emerged feeling wiser. A brilliant, haunting original. **** -- Craig Lines Den Of Geek
This is a short book with a lot to say, all of it interesting ... Most of all it's about the power of storytelling to preserve our past and shape our future, and so one can see why it would appeal to an imprint called Unsung Stories, on this evidence a name to look out for. The Beauty is intellectual and visceral, frightening and thoughtful, an adventure and a meditation. **** -- Stephen Theaker
Interzone If I were to push one book on you from 2014, shove one book at you and say "this", it would be The Beauty. **** -- Benjamin Judge
Aliya Whiteley's elegant, dreamlike prose masterfully frames the most slippery of issues - the fluidity of gender and sexuality; history and the power of propaganda; the value of life in all its forms, and the complex, grotesque nature of desire and disgust. The deconstruction of gender roles provides a sophisticated comment on the natural passage of identity and selfhood. **** -- Jen Wade We Love This Book
"a surreal and disquieting post-apocalyptic consideration of the roles we place ourselves in”
“[a] remarkable collection”
- Barnes & Noble
“unlike anything you will have read before” - Dread Central
“I don’t know about you lot, but I like my dystopian horror filled with cosmic weirdness, strange fungi, and terrifying tales told around post-apocalyptic campfires.” - Black Gate
If you enjoyed Stephen and Owen King's Sleeping Beauties, then you may want to add Aliya Whiteley's The Beauty to your to-read list” - Daily Dead
“Whiteley delivers in a most disconcerting fashion” - Project Fandom
"a unique masterpiece of literary weirdness from a gifted author with a stunning and original voice of her own" Rising Shadow
“The Beauty is a perfect tale for a time where gender politics are so visible.” Fangirlnation.com
"A powerful punch of 112 pages...Once you fall into the rabbit hole of The Beauty you will not come back the same." -- Killer Nashville
“sent a chill up my spine...this story is aptly named; every inch of this tale is darkly beautiful and haunting.” - Horrortalk.com
“super weird and super good...same weird fiction vein as Jeff Vandermeer” - Reading Glasses podcast