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The Beauty

by Aliya Whiteley

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11711211,708 (3.58)4
After the women are killed by fungus, what comes next? What would be born of all that death, out there in the woods? Examining the role of stories, power, gender and more, 'The Beauty' is 'intellectual and visceral, frightening and thoughtful'.

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I expected more. I wanted more. It was honestly super weird to the point I couldnt put it down. I finished in two hours. ( )
  Hollee.Archibald | Nov 25, 2021 |
That was certainly something I read. It was interesting to say the least. ( )
  theEmmers | Nov 24, 2021 |
Haunting and thought provoking, but maybe not focused enough in its messaging. It feels like it is trying to do too much. The slow unraveling of the history of the community, and the slow transformation of the women, the narrator, the community, the side characters is all great. What is odd is how it all comes together. It doesn't feel like the characters are acting naturally, and if you wanted that to be the point, then they behave too erratically for me. It is so short that it is petty to be hard on it, but I wish I could feel enthusiastic more than confused. ( )
  TegarSault | Jul 16, 2020 |
*An ARC was received for free via NetGalley for an unbiased review*

The Beauty was described as a novel depicting the bleak future of humanity after a catastrophic event wipes out all women and men are dependent on storytellers to keep their memories (and hope) alive. Yes, The Beauty is about that, but it’s also… more that detracts a great deal from what the reader expects going into the novel. Though this is how it begins, the plot quickly progresses into a sci-fi/horror story about strange creatures slowly invading the men’s lives.

It was then that I took a look at the notes section and realised that it was classified as New Weird. Now, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of that genre, as previously I would have simply classified a novella like this one as horror/sci-fi. New Weird works much better and is a perfect fit for The Beauty.

The writing itself is amazing and worth five stars alone. Whiteley’s word choice and structure is superb. Her word craft is exquisite and not something I expected to find when I started reading. In fact, there are so many wonderful, quotable parts to the book that I eventually had to force myself to stop highlighting passages because I would’ve highlighted everything. If you just want to read an amazingly written story, regardless of genre, then you cannot go wrong with The Beauty.

If you’re wondering, after reading the previous paragraph, why I reviewed the story at three stars instead of something higher, it’s simply because of the strangeness of the plot. If you’re a fan of Weird, then this has a good chance of becoming a four or five star novella. If you aren’t, then an almost four star review might be as high as you’ll get.

Readers learn early on that it was a type of fungal disease that killed off all of the women — in the world the men of the story speculate. A yellow fungus grew out of women, emanating from the womb it would seem until it consumed them whole. Now, six years later, the same fungus is seen growing on the graves of the women whose lives they took. Nathan, the narrator and group storyteller responsible for cultivating their history and the memories of women alive, is concerned and voices them to the de facto leader of the group, William, who dismisses his concerns. He then takes group cook Thomas to determine whether they are edible and they determine that they are likely poisonous. Finally, Nathan brings a sample back to Doctor Ben so he can study them in case they have medicinal benefits, or at least to discover if it is soon coming for the men. Once evening falls and it is time for the group to begin their storytelling, Nathan realises that a few people are missing. He goes off in search of them and instead finds himself in trouble when he comes face to face with a creature made completely of the yellow fungus.

The rest, well, you’ll have to read it for yourselves as I really don’t want to spoil the story for anyone interested. It is good, it is thought provoking, but above all it is weird, and we could all use a bit of weird in our lives sometimes.

Review first published on ByLuluWithLove ( )
  heylu | Jan 8, 2020 |
Dark and Surreal

Wow, this is a weird one. Dark, surreal, filled with more questions than answers, but fascinating from beginning to end. The only complaint I could possibly muster is that I wanted more, but what is here in the pages is perfect; complex, twisted, and unique, very articulate and exceptionally emotionally resonant. Highly recommended. ( )
  michaeladams1979 | Oct 11, 2018 |
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For H.C.M.W. who proves that change is possible
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To start--
There are signs, I don't care what William says. ("The Beauty")
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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1907389237 (and others) (2014) contain only the single title story, do not combine with the other editions of the same name that contains a 2nd novella (2019).
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After the women are killed by fungus, what comes next? What would be born of all that death, out there in the woods? Examining the role of stories, power, gender and more, 'The Beauty' is 'intellectual and visceral, frightening and thoughtful'.

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