A Sacrifice, A Curse, A Complex Love Story: Bride Of The Water God

A boy in daylight, a man at night.

Are they the same? How will she know?

Up until a few months ago I’d never heard of manhwa, the Korean version of manga, but when I spied the lovely cover art for Bride of the Water God I knew that it was high time I check it out.

Habaek and Soah: this could get awkward.

The story goes a little something like this: Soah, our lovely protagonist, is sacrificed as a “bride” for the Water God in order to bring rain to her village. The generally held belief is that the Water God is a monster, so if she doesn’t drown in her dinghy put to sea, everyone agrees that she’ll be eaten. However, Soah not only survives her journey, but she wakes up in the palace of the Water God. Once there she meets a handsome young man… who escorts her to a young boy. That boy is Habaek, the Water God, and her new husband.

But it gets better: at night Soah meets another handsome young man (the palace of the Water God has a few of them) who calls himself Mui. Despite his arrogance, Soah begins to fall for him, which causes her great guilt. Though Habaek is just a child, and a haughty one at that, Soah takes her responsibility as a sacrificial wife very seriously. Yet unbeknownst to Soah, Mui and Habaek are the same person!

Mui: Now that's what I call a bish-oh!-nen.

The Water God has been under a curse which causes him to revert to a child during the day, limiting his true form and full powers to nighttime. Mui/Habaek wants desperately to keep this secret from Soah, but with Habaek’s meddling mother in the mix, as well as Huye, the archer with a crush on Soah, and Mura, the sorceress with a crush on Habaek, not to mention the mysterious and forceful Emperor poking his nose into things, keeping secrets becomes very difficult in the palace of the Water God. Then there’s Nakbin, Habaek’s first true love, who keeps haunting Mui’s dreams…

Habaek keeps alive the tsundere tradition of being a dick sometimes.

I’ll admit, I bought this book because of its cover. And the stunning artwork doesn’t end there. Yun Mi-kyung’s illustrations are richly detailed and very elegant. Reading this series really is a feast for the eyes. As for the story itself, I was interested throughout volume one, but I found volume two to be a bit slow. I put the second volume down and didn’t pick it back up for a while, thinking that maybe all this series had to offer was pretty pictures. Eventually I picked it back up and moved on to volume three, and I’m very glad that I did, because somewhere in the middle of that book the action picked up in a major way and hasn’t stopped yet.

Currently Bride of the Water God has eight volumes available in America, with the ninth coming out this October. Instead of winding down, the plot gets more and more complex as the books progress.

Fan service: not just for anime.

This is a great piece of shojo manhwa: there are plots and schemes galore, but at its heart Bride of the Water God is a multi-faceted love story. It’s emotional and intense and sexy without being smutty, which is my favourite kind of love story. I honestly giggled and gasped with a teenage-esque delight at some scenes, and it’s not often that books elicit such an audible response from me. Bride of the Water God is an excellent read, and if all manhwa are this good, I’m definitely the genre’s newest fan.

Sharing shelter to stay out of the rain: even better than the ol' yawn-and-stretch at the movies. Very smooth.

Rating: ★★★★★ Love, magic, and breathtaking artwork. Yes, please!

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