Bride of the Water God, Volume One collects the first seven issues of Mi-kyung Yun’s manhwa (manga, comic).
Faced with a long, punishing drought, Soah’s fellow villagers do the only thing they think will work. They send a bride to Habaek the Water God in the hope that the god will be pleased and send rain again.
By “bride”, they mean “human sacrifice.” Soah is cast adrift in a small boat to face a watery doom.
Soah doesn’t die a meaningless death thanks to superstition. She does not die at all. She wakes to find herself in Habaek’s kingdom, attended to by a solicitous servant. Curiously, the god himself is not in evidence, leaving the young woman to worry that her husband must be some sort of monster.
He finally appears. He’s not a monster at all; he appears to be a young boy. He doesn’t seem to be interested in his human bride, who is left to her own devices.
Soah socializes with the other inhabitants of Habaek’s palace. For the most part, they are gods, who are uncomfortable companions for a mortal. Even those who don’t turn a cold shoulder can’t be trusted; Soah soon learns that.
Time passes. Soah learns more about Habaek, his palace, and his courtiers. The more she learns, the more she discovers that there are mysteries yet to be solved. What happened to all of the water god’s previous brides? Why did Habaek’s extremely attractive soi-disant cousin Mui suddenly appear in her bed chamber?
She might have done well to ask why Habaek and Mui never appear at the same time. She doesn’t and she should have. She is the only person in the palace unaware that the boy Habaek and the ever-so-sexy Mui are the same person.
Once married, one has in-laws. In Soah’s case, her mother-in-law is Suh-wang-mo, Goddess of Death, Punishment, and Torture. That would be challenging, even if mom-in-law kept her distance. Too bad that Soah’s mother-in-law is coming to visit.
I don’t think Soah is going to miss her relatives and neighbours all that much. There is just something about being the designated human sacrifice that can drive a wedge between a human and their community. Somehow, “thank you for your service” does not quite take the sting out of “now please die.”
Habaek has identifying marks that Mui lacks. One is a boy while the other is an adult. Nevertheless, Soah deserves the Daily Planet Staff Memorial Award for Studied Cluelessness Regarding Secret Identities. It may be that her upbringing discouraged her from any sort of curiosity or self-motivated action. This would explain why she seems to be a rather passive, incurious person, more inclined to accept astounding developments at face value than to demand answers until she gets them.
On the other hand, her companions are gods and gods are notorious for giving disquieting answers. Perhaps she’s just prudent.
Most of the characters in this manwa are very, very pretty. That’s nice. I like eye candy. But I want more from a comic.
This volume is all introductions and planting plot seeds rather than a cavalcade of events. Par for a first volume of a series. Still, unless volume two is more interesting, I am not sure that this is my divine peach stolen from the garden of the Goddess of Death.