Lucy Wood’s “Diving Belles” is the best short fiction collection I’ve read in months, and the best new one I’ve read in years. Each story is inspired by, or a complete retelling, of a fairy tale. I have studied folklore, mythology, and fairy tales for years, so “Diving Belles” was extremely fun for me. Each story had a dreamy, surreal quality that I often associate with borderline-incomprehensible sequences, but one of the main delights of “Diving Belles” was that each story maintained this quality while providing a completely coherent, non-confusing tale. In my experience, at least, this is a rare talent.
These modern fairy tales can, I believe, be enjoyed by readers of nearly any age, but are definitely geared toward adults without being explicitly adult, which is very refreshing. There is a sweet melancholy present even in the darker tales, and that melancholy quality helps to ground each of these stories, however outlandish some may be.
Every story in the collection is well-done and lovely. I can’t pick apart a single piece as the weak link. This is an extremely strong debut by an author I will be following in years to come. It stands on both outright story merits and literary prowess. Please pick it up. This collection deserves a great deal of exposure.