After the precision of Allan, this inevitably feels baggy, and the first half of the story is routine: woman impregnated by goddess; husband doesn’t understand, blames her; she turns to a friend (that she knows has feelings for her); he agrees to help her visit the goddess. There is a novel note in this — the unborn baby is diagnosed with a congenital heart defect — which is nicely paid off later, symptomatic of the story’s generally more interesting final third. The characters reach Ys, the city of the goddess:
Ys is a dead city. No, worse than that: the husk of a city, long since deserted by both the dead and the living. But it hums with power, with an insistent beat that seeps through the soles of Francoise’s shoes, with a rhythm that is the roar of the waves and the voice of the storm — and also a lament for all the lives lost to the ocean. As she walks, the rhythm penetrates deeper into her body, insinuating itself into her womb until it mingles with her baby’s heartbeat.
This dredging of the story’s subtext to the surface, and the image of a barren goddess — driven to create life, but unable to sustain it — does linger, beyond a final confrontation that starts to surrender potency to long-windedness. But I don’t think it’s enough.