What’s Countless Stones all about?:
Countless Stones is about a young woman who is trying to complete a number of mundane tasks (check the doors are locked and the windows are shut, switch off the electric etc) and you would think she is about to go on holiday. However, she is turning into one of the standing stones that sit on the edge of a cliff, looking out onto the sea.
What did I think?:
Like the previous story in this collection, Countless Stones has a touch of the magical realism about it which I loved and I was afraid that I wouldn’t enjoy this story compared to the beauty of the first one in this collection Diving Belles. Our central female character, Rita is a young woman whom from the very beginning is anything but ordinary. She wakes with a strange sensation in her toes, as if they are turning to stone, but does not seem particularly surprised or worried about it. In fact, she undergoes the same processes we all do when leaving our property for a while to make sure it is safe for our return. As she does this however she is interrupted by a call from her former boyfriend, someone who still seems quite attached to her, and relies heavily on her to help him complete certain tasks. She obliges by taking him to view a property he is interested in renting, even though the roads are treacherous with snow and ice, and oh yes… she is turning quite literally to stone.
So compared to the title story, Diving Belles, I have to admit this one did not leave me reeling as much with giddy happiness. But I’m not saying it was bad at all, it was good but unfortunately had a lot to live up to. Lucy Wood mixes a bit of fantasy and very beautiful descriptive writing to make a very special story though, and it becomes an absolute joy and pleasure to read her work. It is also so much more thrilling when the author brings a bit of mystery into the tale, as we discover that the thought of turning to stone does not particularly worry Rita. She is slightly concerned about exactly how long she will be “away,” but reassures the reader that this type of thing happens to all of the people in her town, and they would probably deal with the mail piling up at her house. The only thing I would have loved more is to find out more about Rita and her boyfriends relationship, and what had happened between them that they had to separate. However, I do believe that the unanswered questions of the story only serve to make it more mysterious and intriguing.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT SHORT STORY: The Sea of Trees by Randy Taguchi from the collection Fujisan