Bride of the Water God

Bride of the Water God Volume 1 by Mi-Kyung Yun

Does exquisitely pretty art compensate for lack of plot? Bride of the Water God tells the story of Soah, a young girl from a drought stricken village. At an early age she’s set aside as a candidate for sacrifice to the Water God Habaek. When she’s sacrificed she’s rescued instead of drowning and transported to Suguk, the land of the gods. Suguk is filled with floating islands, fish shaped hot air balloons, and an exceptionally attractive pantheon of gods.

Soah wanders aimlessly through a beautiful palace and meets her husband. Habaek appears in the form of a petulant child. At night his other form is that of a mature man, but when Soah sees a handsome fellow who looks suspiciously like her husband he introduces himself as Mui and Soah assumes that he’s Habaek’s cousin.

There isn’t much narrative urgency to the events that unfold in Bride of the Water God. The relationship between Soah and Habaek is burdened by constraints. Soah’s mother-in-law is rumored to be a vengeful goddess. Unforeseen dangers lurk in the land of the gods. This mahwa would seem dangerously inert, but it is made much more interesting by the detailed art. The world of Suguk is filled with vivid backgrounds and attractive gods wearing intricate costumes. While I wish there was a clearer narrative direction, I’ll likely check out the next couple volumes of this series to see if a plot that’s worthy of the art eventually develops.