Saturday, May 29, 2021

REVIEW: Bride of the Water God (manhwa, vol. 4) by Mi-Kyung Yun, translated by Julia Kwon Gombos

Bride of the Water God is a fantasy historical romance Korean manhwa with mystery aspects. It was/is licensed by Dark Horse Comics but appears to be out of print now. I got my copy of this volume used.


Soah has regained some of her memories about Mui and Habaek, but she also remembers Habaek reuniting with Nakbin, so she pretends not to know Mui and agrees to marry Dong-young. However, Mui/Habaek can't quite bring himself to stay away, and Tae-eul-jin-in brings things to a head by forcing him to have a flashback to his last days with Nakbin.

That's the best I can do for a description of this volume that doesn't get too spoiler-y and hopefully also makes sense, because dang was this a confusing read. The author continues to mix flashbacks in with the series' present, with no clear indication when the switch happens. The worst moment was when Mui was remembering Nakbin, the big betrayal occurred...and then for some reason Mui was suddenly at Soah's window, coming to take her back to Suguk. Huh? Did he somehow wake up with no memory of what Tae-eul-jin-in did?

I felt like I had to put a ton of effort into keeping the characters and timeline straight. It was exhausting, and I wasn't even very successful. I still don't know who the woman that visited Habaek is (are we supposed to know, or is it really supposed to be a mystery still?), and I have no clue what most of these characters' motivations are. Is Huye loyal to Habaek or not? What's up with Tae-eul-jin-in? 

Habaek and Soah seem to exist in the midst of a very slow tornado of things that keep happening to them, neither one of them with much of a choice about any of it. Mystery and intrigue can be a lot of fun, but at this point it seems like that's all this series is, one mystery piled on top of another - after four volumes, I don't have much trust that Mi-Kyung Yun plans to give readers answers anytime soon.

Once again, the artwork is pretty, but the storytelling is painfully confusing. Since it looks like this series was never fully published in English anyway, and since it would take special effort for me to read any further, I'm just going to stop here.


A couple pages of full-color artwork, six 4-panel comics featuring the author, a short author afterword, and a page of author notes on the story of Gyeonwu and Jiknyeo (including Gyeonwu's connection to Dong-young, which didn't entirely make sense to me), Mui and Habaek's clothing, and Mura's eyes.

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