4 of 5 stars.
This modern folk tale employs beautiful prose to tell a fish tale of the supernatural variety. It would have been a natural fit for Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep edited by Paula Guran. Especially in that it showcases dysmorphia as many sea-creature tales do.
A fisherman and his wife live in a poor fishing village near some depleted fishing banks. The poor just keep getting poorer, not helped by the one merchant that comes to the village and pays far under market rate for the fish they catch. One day the fisherman finds a man washed up on shore. His wife touches the man who immediately rebounds as if nothing is wrong. He promises the village the best net-casts ever, if blood sacrifices are made. His demonstration pulls in not only the fullest fish net and the biggest fish ever seen here, but also items of gold mixed in.
The fishwife makes a decision to see the blood sacrifice through. As unsuspecting people fall victim, the village keeps getting wealthier. But other things start to slide, and the villagers start to physically change starting with the fishwife . . . .
This tale is highly recommended. I had previously encountered Carrie Vaughn’s excellent “Amaryllis“. “Fishwife” appears in New Cthulhu 2: More Recent Weird edited by Paula Guran after originally appearing in Nightmare, Issue 97, June 2013.
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