By Aliya Whiteley
Titan Books
Publication Date:  March  2018


Review by Bree Goodchild

“Today the world moves on, and I must find new ways to turn the truth into stories. The graveyard bears more mushrooms, clustering in soft wet shapes, yellow folds and rivulets, in the outlines of the women beneath the soil.” 

Whiteley’s The Beauty is a powerful punch of 112 pages. It has been described as “weird,” “speculative,” and “disturbing.” Recommended for lovers of Margaret Atwood and the late Ursula Le Guin this compelling novella tackles themes like feminism, gender relations, and age-related power struggles. Once you fall into the rabbit hole of The Beauty you will not come back the same.

Whiteley’s world is told through the voice of a young storyteller within the Group in the Valley of the Rocks. Nathan is the reader’s eyes and ears among the men in the Group. Nate composes poetic tales of how men and women from all places came looking for sanctuary from a chaotic, technology-driven world. How all the women were now gone, eaten alive slowly by an incurable disease.

Nate also knows the forest holds a terrible secret. Within the shadows of the trees, beneath the soil in which the mushrooms grow, there lives an “other,” a new Group that will rattle the lives of the men in the Valley. Is this alien “other” the missing piece to a crippled humanity, or a sinister being with its own agenda? 

“Terror, hatred, panic and those stranger, softer feelings: they are there, but they do not crowd me or make me their puppet.”

Weaving a story of science fiction, mystery, and post-apocalyptic thrills writer Aliya Whiteley challenges her readers to think beyond traditional storytelling, and to open their minds to the great “what if…” A myth in its own weight, The Beauty is a short story which keeps its readers up at night. You’ll be far too captivated by the strangeness to put it down for even a moment. Embrace the weird, surrender to the beauty.

Bree Goodchild is a recent graduate of Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville with a BA in English and Theatre Arts. She currently lives in Washington state with her beagle mix, Molly. A fan of a wide genre of books and authors, most recently Temple Grandin, Ira Glass, Terry Moore, Sebastian Barry, and Zora Neale Hurston.