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Three Eight One

Three Eight One

Current price: $27.99
Publication Date: January 16th, 2024
Heartleaf Books
1 on hand, as of Apr 20 12:16pm
(Science Fiction/Fantasy)
On Our Shelves Now


An astonishing literary crossover novel about the pressures of growing up and the nature of authorship.

In January 2314, Rowena Savalas – a curator of the vast archive of the twenty-first century’s primitive internet – stumbles upon a story posted in the summer of 2024. She’s quickly drawn into the mystery of the text: Is it autobiography, fantasy or fraud? What’s the significance of the recurring number 381?

In the story, the protagonist Fairly walks the Horned Road – a quest undertaken by youngsters in her village when they come of age. She is followed by the “breathing man,” a looming presence, dogging her heels every step of the way. Everything she was taught about her world is overturned.

Following Fairly’s quest, Rowena comes to question her own choices, and a predictable life of curation becomes one of exploration, adventure and love. As both women’s stories draw to a close, she realises it doesn’t matter whether the story is true or not: as with the quest itself, it’s the journey that matters.

About the Author

Aliya Whiteley is one of the most exciting talents in the UK. The author of five books of speculative fiction, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlisted The Loosening Skin. Her novels have been shortlisted for many awards, including the Clarke Award, the Shirley Jackson Award and the James Tiptree Jr. Award. She lives in Sussex with her husband and teenage daughter.

Praise for Three Eight One

“One of the most original and provocative voices in contemporary science fiction.” -- Nina Allen

“Intense and consuming writing, constantly challenging expectations.” -- Adrian Tchaikovsky

“Whiteley takes the reader on a cryptic journey of trust, identity and knowing your place in the world.” -- Starburst Magazine

“Whiteley’s trademark subtle surrealism shines.” -- Publishers Weekly

“A melancholy and compellingly weird tale of identity in crisis.” -- SFX

“A unique work of literary and speculative excellence.” -- SciFiNow

“Three Eight One is an extraordinary offering from one of the UK’s greatest living writers of speculative fiction – blurring genres and playing with form to produce a gripping, exciting, poetic adventure.” -- Oliver Langmead, author of Birds of Paradise and Metronome

“A hero’s journey stripped back to its essence, remixed with spaceships and conspiracies, masquerade and menace. Is it an allegory pretending to be an adventure story? An adventure masquerading as a secret history of the world? A new kind of wisdom literature for the digital age? Whatever it is I loved every second of it. Truly Aliya Whiteley is one of the most original and interesting writers in the field.” -- Helen Marshall, author of The Migration

“There’s nothing like a new Aliya Whiteley novel, and no Aliya Whiteley novel is like any other. Three Eight One may be her most enigmatic work to date, a parable of maturation and the milestones of life that is at once mythical and down-to-earth. I adored every moment of it, and I found it overwhelming in its scope, honesty and emotional impact. It’s certainly one of the best novels I’ve read this year.” -- Tim Major, author of You Don’t Belong Here and Snakeskins

“A brain-charging voyage through the present and the future, a novel that shepherds the reader out and then brings her back in, changing her in the process. It’s like Kafka rewrote Pale Fire as a science-fictional novel. A Pilgrim’s Progress through a godless world where the pilgrim is Patrick McGoohan’s ‘Prisoner.’ A dream of a book, in several senses: enigmatic, marvellous, utterly original. Whiteley really is one of the most striking and brilliant writers working today.” -- Adam Roberts, author of The Thing Itself

“Masterfully written and rich with meaning, Three Eight One confirms Aliya Whiteley as one of our most ingenious -- and important -- storytellers. Travelling the Horned Road is a wild and unique experience: funny and thoughtful, frightening and joyful. I already want to go back.” -- Matt Hill, author of Lamb and The Breach

“Like watching a magic trick happen... I’m going to be thinking about Three Eight One for a long time.” -- Fiona Barnett, author of The Dark Between the Trees

“Three Eight One celebrates the art of storytelling with every clever twist and turn in this exquisitely crafted, beautifully realized voyage of discovery.” -- E. J. Swift, author of The Coral Bones and Paris Adrift

“Slippery and whip-smart, this is a novel profoundly perceptive of the human condition. It has a disorienting ebb and flow – elegantly elusive and dream-like at times, while also being finely-tuned and precise. A mediation, perhaps, on the fallacies of history, and the futility of searching for meaning.” -- Lucie McKnight Hardy, author of Water Shall Refuse Them and Dead Relatives

“Whiteley’s self-deconstructing quest narrative is a puzzle box full of delights, perils and strange wonders. Haunting.” -- Mike Carey, author of The Girl With All the Gifts and The Book of Koli

“One of the books of the year. Superb, on every level.” –Buzz Magazine

“A wonderfully alienating experience.” –SFX, five star review

“Brilliant in its playful inventiveness.” –The FT

A “journey that slowly unpeels itself” —SciFiNow

“A quirky, unsettling work from one of the most original writers of speculative fiction in Britain today.” —The Guardian

“Three Eight One is a puzzle novel that is not meant to be coherently or definitively resolved.” —Skiffy and Fanty

"Exceptionally clever, deep and multi-layered story(ies), leaving a lot of matter to think about. Reminds me of some of Gene Wolfe's stuff in the best way." -- Adrian Tchaikovsky