Apologies for being silent for more than a week. I solemnly swear that I was reading. And organizing my bookshelf. And catching up on anime on Crunchyroll.
But back to the reading! Last week I finished Diving Belles, a short story collection by Lucy Wood. Blending Cornish folklore with everyday life, Wood creates an evocative world where the mythical is commonplace; retirement homes for witches, a woman making sure her house is in order before she transforms into stone, wives in diving bells pursuing husbands who’ve been lured into the sea, a house lovingly tended to by its own spirits, a woman enjoys her spectral lover’s company by applying a special ointment that allows for her to see him. The Cornish sea is a recurring character in almost all the tales, an entity with different roles, like a slowly encroaching element (‘Lights in other People’s Houses’) or a memory within an old house (‘Notes from the House Spirits’).
As with any short story collection, there are a few in the book that aren’t as engaging or enjoyable as the others. After ‘Blue Moon’, the book had run out of steam for me, like I had spent way too much time in this enchanted, yet moody world of the extraordinary. Sadly, I ended up slogging through the last two stories.
As a whole, Diving Belles is beautifully imagined and haunting. If Wood’s next work is a novel written in the same vein as this, I will eagerly devour it in one sitting.
Now for something almost completely but-not-quite different: remember when I mentioned Crunchyroll? For those who aren’t familiar with it, Crunchyroll is a streaming site for Japanese anime and Asian drama series. You can stream anime and drama for free, but if you want actual simulcasts and an ad-free experience, you can pay per month for premium membership. Anywhoo, in between binge watching Twin Star Exorcists and reading Midsummer Night in the Workhouse, I found a Japanese drama series that immediately gave me shelf!envy.
Biblia Koshodō no Jiken Techō, or as it’s known in English, Antiquarian Bookshop Biblia’s Case Files. The show revolves around Shinokawa Shioriko, a young antiquarian bookshop owner with a sharp knowledge of classic books and a Holmesian knack for observation and deduction. She often finds herself being involved in mysteries in and around her shop. I find it good ole fashion cozy mystery viewing, though they do tend to draw out the ‘reveal’ scenes dramatically. One of the most interesting episodes so far is Ep. 05, where Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange is the focus of the mystery. If you enjoy book-related sleuthing, definitely give this show a try! You can watch it for free on Crunchyroll.