Review: “A Good Husband” by Angela Slatter

4 of 5 stars.

Following the true folktale formula, this modern myth offers two warnings: be cautious of deals with the supernatural, and be careful of what you wish for.

The unmarried women, mostly by tradition, make offerings and supplications to The Lake of the Mari-Morgan, a water spirit that narrates this tale. In her immortality, she is often content to remain unseen. However, Mari-Morgan receives an unexpected offering in the form of salty tears and blood when one particularly loyal seamstress, Kitty, comes to the lake bloody and permanently scarred. Kitty asks that her husband be made a good man, and that he be made to love her.

Despite Mari-Morgan’s sympathies, she deems it best to not interfere. But due to Kitty’s loyalty, she decides on a non-committal interaction. She will help Kitty, but only if Kitty can make an outfit for her that is worthy and beyond all others in scope. The demi-goddess is confident in Kitty’s failure, and thus her own reprieve from intervening in domestic abuse.

Kitty comes back to the lake with a magic book and magic shears and magic thread. She cuts cloth from the water at night under a blood moon and pulls algae to make the ribbons. The dress created is the most beautiful ever, and Mari-Morgan can not resist it. Kitty echoes her earlier request: to make her husband a good man . . .

This story appears in the latest anthology edited by Paula Guran, Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep, published by Prime Books. “A Good Husband” first appeared in Sourdough and Other Stories (Tartarus Press, 2010).
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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