REVIEW: “A Smuggler’s Pact” by Su Haddrell

Review of Su Haddrell, “A Smuggler’s Pact”, in Catherine Lundoff, ed., Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) (Queen of Swords Press, 2018): 102-112 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

I’m not sure whether “depressing patriarchy” needs a content warning or not, but the harassment first mate Maeve suffers at the hands of her captain, Captain Stuart, is so ordinary and normal, probably no woman would be taken off guard reading it. But Maeve and Captain Stuart have a deal and she’s willing to put up with a lot in hopes of eventually commanding a ship of her own. As it is, she’s often the de facto captain of Stuart’s ship, as he spends his time too drunk, and besides, it’s much more convenient that he sends her into danger than go himself.

Some men transporting cargo through the swamps of Arcadia disappeared a few nights ago, and Maeve goes with the next cargo transport — as much as to reassure the crews as to protect them. Little does she know that again she’ll be bargaining, not with her captain, but with the witch of the swamp…a bargain that will get her all she and her future crew could desire.

This story had a lovely hints at the worldbuilding, giving the feeling of the story being a part of something larger, without belabouring the matter or info-dumping, and a satisfying come-uppance at the end.