The Beauty

Aliya Whiteley
The Beauty Cover

The Beauty


'Stories are as slippery as seasons; it's beyond my power to make either stand still. I try to tell them the same way, but each telling leads to small changes; something is added to the structure, a change of pace, a tweak of testimonies, all of them make circles in our minds.' (p.10)

This is a stunning story, a mesmerizing piece of speculative fiction. Whiteley's lyrical prose is poetic, her descriptions of the characters' natural surroundings both beautiful and disturbing. There is wisdom in here. Also a deep understanding of the human condition and gender roles. Here are a few examples:

'The windmill turns, the fire jumps high and the river tumbles over the stones. It grows dark and the wild goats bleat in chorus, giving their sad farewells to the sun.' (p.11)

'The wrongness sweeps over me, obliterates the butterflies, leaves only black insect legs, squirming and scrabbling in my mind.' (p.21)

'Sleep is a truth that will not come readily to those who fill their minds with pretense, so I sit up and watch my breath billow out into the December cold.' (p.61)

At only 99 pages, this will be a quick read for most. Yet the language is so vivid, the imagination on display so emphatic, The Beauty deserves to be consumed slowly and carefully. It's a treat to find such an original story by an author who instantly becomes a must-read. I've already bought Whiteley's 2016 novella The Arrival of Missives and am looking forward to reading it soon. The Beauty is a book that I will read again.

Very highly recommended!