Set on the desolate moors and ragged coastline of rural Cornwall, Lucy Wood’s debut short story collection creates a powerful patchwork of lives tangled up in the myth and folklore that surrounds them…
From giants’ ribcages and talking magpies to wishing trees and doors that appear on beaches, Diving Belles tells twelve modern day tales of ancient tradition and susperstition. Wood’s stories are set in the strange space between fantasy and reality, entirely grounded in real life yet unable to escape the mystery and fable that permeates the Cornish landscape. In Diving Belles, the mundane gets caught up with wreckers’ lamps, standing stones and wailing hounds; witches live in over subscribed retirement homes and house spirits keep watch over homes, fretting about thier inhabitants and keeping an eye on thier keys. The sea and the tides remain a constant presense throughout, one moment as a giver of gifts, the next a shadow that swallows up loved ones.
In each tale, Wood cleverly constructs a vivid sense of the Cornwall she grew up in alongside the folklore that is etched into its history. Yet however surreal her stories are, they never wander far from the human relationships at their centre. It is these depictions of fragile family bonds, unsaid emotions and poignant realisations that make Diving Belles more than just a collection of fairystories.
Though short story collections can often feel disjointed, Wood’s prose pulls you into each tale, conjuring up characters who are brimming with warmth and depth. Each story brushes the next to weave together a mesmerising picture of life in Wood’s seaside world. Diving Belles’s lyrical tales could charm even the most reluctant short story reader….