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The Beauty

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  1,687 ratings  ·  373 reviews
Somewhere away from the cities and towns, a group of men and boys gather around the fire each night to listen to their stories in the Valley of the Rocks. For when the women are all gone the rest of your life is all there is for everyone. The men are waiting to pass into the night.

The story shall be told to preserve the past. History has gone back to its aural roots and th
Paperback, 195 pages
Published January 16th 2018 by Titan Books (first published August 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  1,687 ratings  ·  373 reviews

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Ian Hocking
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A mixture of 'disturbing' and 'brilliant' -- that's right, it's brillurbing. ...more
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fabulous metaphorical delight! What happens when impossible beauty ideals become a fungus that infects women and brainwashes men? More than a commentary on gender roles, this disturbing little tale places blame squarely on the society that sets, perpetuates, and prioritizes physical female beauty over human love and shared responsibility. Fantastic truncated paragraph style, too. Nice and rhythmic.
The Beauty is a weirdly beautiful novella from Aliya Whiteley that feels disconcertingly unfinished. It is altogether fascinating, with a sinister progression of themes and ideas, but it ends too soon, and Nate's narration keeps much of the story at arms' length.

In an undefined future, the world has been overcome by a fungal infection that has taken the lives of every single woman, young and old. The men who survive them know that they are to be the last generation, and exist in a sad sort of li

I don't even know how to rate this.

This is just one fkn WEIRD book okay.

Also it's two stories so that was completely unexpected.

The Beauty

The actual, titular story, which I thought was the entire novel. Super weird. Basically there's no women left because they all died from some nasty womb disease so there's just this little band of lonely men. I thought this was going to be a thought-provoking, feminist-type horror story about how hopeless men are without women but instead we get mushroom wo
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quiet and intense at the same time, this is the story of a small, isolated post-apocalyotic society, in a world where all women are gone, and eventually replaced by... something.

It definetly challenges gender norms. There is a sort of flip - the roles have been inverted, but not in an angry "let's see how you like it!" kind of way, atleast that's not all, there's more depth too it than that. It's rather something that changes your identity, and not everyone manages to adapt to the new order.

Dannii Elle
This is the most bizarre thing I have read in my entire life!
S.E. Lindberg
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing

What is beautiful? Repulsive? Are you attracted to it? Are you beautiful, or unloved? These question resonate as one reads "The Beauty."
Aliya Whiteley's THE BEAUTY offers a compact dose of weird fiction, body horror specifically, in which humanity is evolving into mushrooms. Expect a mashup of  William Golding's 1954 Lord of the Flies and P. D. James' 1992 novel The Children of Men: a cluster of men survive in a dystopian future where all the women are dead (no hope for reproduc
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really don't want to give away too much of this story. It's unique and somewhat disturbing. I realized that I'm so used to typical gender roles that a number of things that happen in this book made me really uncomfortable. And that's incredibly disappointing to me. Gender, now more than ever, is becoming less of an issue in society, but when you take the typical male and female roles and completely switch them, it's amazing how quickly I became uncomfortable. That tells me that perhaps society ...more
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
NOTE: This book was provided by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

(link to review on my blog soon)

Why did I read this book? Because the blurb promised me a world without women. Not "a world without women except for one who for some reason didn't die", but "a world without women, full stop". And let me tell you, to feminist me, this sounded incredibly intriguing.

So I gave it a shot.

This book, let me tell you, is a powerhouse. The story follows Nate, the resident s
Leah Bayer
I was very much looking forward to this book but it let me down hard--I really liked Whiteley's The Arrival of Missives and was hoping for more like that. The idea here is so cool: all the women in the world contract a strange fungus-based illness and die. After their death, mushrooms start growing on their graves and eventually turn into weird sentient mushroom-women. I HATE mushrooms really passionately (are you a plant? an animal?! make up your damn mind!) so this was particularly horrifying ...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This novella is a look at gender roles and norms, and it is unsettling, creepy, and disturbing, which is, I think, the point. The setting is a dystopian future where all the women have died and a group of men form a small society. Then ‘The Beauty’ come - a group of mushroom-like creatures that reshape the new society and flip gender roles on their head. The writing was very good, and I would look for more from this author.
Eleni (OverThePlace)
Like tripping on mushrooms (or having sex with them).
Literally, that's the whole plot. It's brilliant, wise and messed-up.

***Update: I just discovered the iconic artist Georgia O'Keeffe and I think that her paintings, especially the ones with the huge flowers, should be on the cover of this book. Her paintings represent exactly the theme and the feeling of the book.
Seregil of Rhiminee
Originally published at Risingshadow.

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 bo
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Distance. I don’t know why, but I felt distance from this story. Remoteness. But at the same time, closeness. Strange, right? Beautiful? Maybe, but you’ll have to read the story. Stories around a communal fire lead to a crashing evolution and purpose (ulterior motive?) of said stories. Interpretation. Fear. Freedom. Future. Life. Strength. Community. Solitude. Evolution. Fulfillment. These words stream through me, circle around, become. This is an odd story. A good one. Sit by the fire and read. ...more
I'm still wondering where the horror of the story was supposed to lie. This was as much of a chore as The Power was: an "ohhh, what if men suddenly weren't the dominant gender?? What if we FLIPPED it??" thinking exercise that's predictable as hell.

I may have missed something with The Beauty, because the novella has excellent reviews and I'm here like "......What?", especially considering this book was supposed to be horror. Was I supposed to be grossed out and horrified by the "pregnant" men, or
Grace Troxel
This review originally appeared on my blog, Books Without Any Pictures:

3.5 stars.

One of the great things about being a book blogger is that you are introduced to books that you otherwise would never have heard of or considered reading. I received a review request from a small speculative fiction publisher based out of the UK called Unsung Stories for a novella called The Beauty, which is quite possibly one of the most bizarre books I’ve ever read.

The Beau
I don't know what to say about this. But I'll try.

First things first, let me say that I hate body horror. So there's that. I thoroughly enjoy being creeped out but body horror disturbs me in a way I don't like; it goes straight to my stomach and makes me feel nauseated. But I can't deny that the body horror in this novella is brilliant and does exactly what it's supposed to be doing.

I don't know what to say, there is so much to unpack here and it is such a short book: gender, sex, loneliness, mu
Jul 08, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
By the premise alone I anticipated something delightfully weird and fantastic. Instead I got a whole lot of TERF bullshit.

To recap: women are women, and men are men, and men need women (because I guess fuck off to anyone who isn't a heterosexual?) and mushroom women neeeed men. The mushroom people (the titular Beauty) impregnate cis men, which is Horrifying, and the cis men essentially lose their penises and balls, which is Also Horrifying, and the mushroom women grow penises they use to fuck t
Oct 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, horror
You can find my full review of The Beauty on my speculative fiction book blog.

In summary: The Beauty is a rich and atmospheric tale which handles the uncanny and horror with huge confidence. I'm not sure it could ever be made into a movie, but if so, Guillermo del Toro (who made Pan's Labyrinth) would have to direct. It is a stunning achievement.
Eliza Graham
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What is a woman? Are gender roles fixed or fluid? These are big philosophical questions and Nate, the young storyteller and main protagonist of The Beauty, tries to weave tales that make sense of life. Until something weird starts happening near the graves of the dead women who are now all that is left of the female sex. The Beauty has some shocking and disturbing moments, but are there for a reason and the prose is elegant.
Shawn Birss
I cannot express with enough enthusiasm how much I enjoyed the title story of this book. This novel is one of the strangest, most horrifying, most provocative, most distressingly violent, most creative, most transgressive, and most thoughtful and feminine stories I have read in the last three years. In about 100 pages, I was transfixed and transformed by this word magic, like some kind of meme disease that infected my eyeballs through the page.

If you love science fiction . . .
(. . . especially
Paul Ataua
Intriguing short novel set in a world where a fungus infection has led to the death of all women, and in which the men sit around the camp fire telling stories. Then mushrooms start growing on the women’s graves and develop into mushroom women. Fascinating in parts and sometimes very perceptive, but I found it hard to follow the line of the story, and was, at times, frustrated by the narrative.
John Beta
The stranger the better. Women died off to some sort of vaginal fungus, men and boys satisfying each other, mushroom women growing from graves, men having sex with mushroom women, men turning into women and having babies, mushroom women taking on the male role, resistance, acceptance, disgusting and comforting. Some weird stuff which I like, however, it was at times a bit hard to follow. Gonna make me a mushroom omelet tomorrow!
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What the f*%^ did I just read? This is some ridiculous metaphorical s***. The accompanying novella/short is almost as bizarre, in a sense? I don't know where to start or begin with reviewing this, so I'm going to leave it at that I think. I thoroughly enjoyed the accompanying novella/short though. ...more
Jun 27, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Errr .... what the hell?! There wasn't really anything I liked about this book, but I was very grateful that it was only 99 pages long. Oh dear. ...more
Kim Raccoon
Feb 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
I have to be missing something. A metaphor, allegory, symbolism, something. I just can't understand why mushroom-human sexual relations is so compelling for people. ...more
Creepy and fabulous. Life finds a way.
Sep 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-publisher
The nitty-gritty: A short but powerful story that will make you think about what "gender" means, but seriously, one of the strangest things I’ve ever read.

The Beauty were small at first but they grew, and they took all the best qualities of the dead. They sucked up through the soil all the softness, serenity, hope and happiness of womankind.

I’m not the sort of reader who shies away from anything odd or bizarre, and many of the books I've read and enjoyed can be described in just that way. I was
Dec 01, 2018 added it
Shelves: need-it-now
Review to come.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, horror
SUPER weird. Not Bizarro weird (a genre that has truly pushed my limits on strangeness and unpleasant descriptions) but it's up there. We start with the old trope of a post-apoc that killed off one gender --women in this case-- and combine it with insular community creepiness. Fungus begins growing on the graves of dead women and bloom into fungal approximations of women. Sounds disturbing right? That's not even half of it! ...more
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Sword & Sorcery: ...: Beauty in Weird Fiction - Whiteley Interview 1 17 Aug 09, 2018 03:26PM  
Bibbidi Bobbidi Book: Distopia: una moda che torna 5 5 Apr 09, 2018 11:39PM  

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