Short Story Review: “The Cthulhu Navy Wife” by Sandra McDonald

3 of 5 stars.

In a spoof of the style guides from the 1950’s that backed rigid gender roles within marriage, this tale reads like a How-To for would-be June Cleavers of the occult. With Lovecraft mythos crudely injected in, the focus on the role of the supportive military housewife gets mapped out while willfully ignoring the more gruesome occult rites.

The sections of the guide don’t add up to much of a story or plot, but do accumulate into a larger picture of a post-apocalyptic Earth while yet overlooking the same actualities by keeping the focus on the role of the wife who shouldn’t worry about the larger picture. As the final section sums it up:

What is a Navy Wife?

A Navy wife must clean the house, wash clothes, cook meals, tend to the children, and provide for the needs and comfort of her husband. He has the right to good reading lamps, clean ashtrays, and peace and quiet at the end of the day. A Navy wife learns to find satisfaction and happiness in a job well done. She accepts the challenges of the military life with enthusiasm and optimism, and values the traditions and customs passed down to her from earlier generations.

A Navy wife does not dwell on her mistakes. She does not stand on the rocky shore with her coat wrapped tight, contemplating drowning herself in the unforgiving waves . . .

This tale appears in the New Lovecraftian anthology, The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu edited by Paula Guran. I received my copy of the anthology directly from Prime Books. I’ve previously read McDonald’s excellent “Selfie”.
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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