Magical, mythical, a little quirky, sometimes creepy, and just plain fun!
Diving Belles, an engaging new short story collection by Lucy Wood, grabbed me from the opening passage:
"Iris crossed her brittle ankles and folded her hands in her lap as the diving bell creaked and juddered towards the sea. At first, she could hear Demelza shouting and cursing as she cranked the winch, but the as bell was cantilevered away from the deck her voice was lost in the wind. Cold air rushed through the open bottom of the bell, bringing with it the rusty smell of The Matriarch's liver-spotted flanks and the brackish damp of seaweed. The bench Iris was sitting on was narrow and every time the diving bell rocked she pressed against the footrest to steady herself. She kept imagining that she was inside a church bell and that she was the clapper about to ring out loudly into the water, announcing something. She fixed her eyes on the small window and didn't look down. There was no floor beneath her feet, just a wide open gap and the sea peaked and spat. She lurched downwards slowly, metres away from the side of the trawler, where a layer of barnacles and mussels clung on like the survivors of a shipwreck."The collection features women turning to stone, husbands disappearing with mermaids, a house with an attitude, leprechauns, and more. It's no wonder Wood has been compared to Angela Carter. My natural tendency is to breeze through a collection like this in a single day, and this peaceful hotel balcony in Lake Placid proved to be an ideal reading spot. However, I'd recommend that you dole the stories out over several days, or even a week, instead. You'll enjoy returning to Lucy Wood's wonderfully weird world again and again.
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me a review copy. The complete tour schedule for Diving Belles is here.