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Indie Advent Day 15: The Worth of Hair by A.A. Freeman


A.A. Freeman’s Midwife Fable novellas are sublime. This one was the first I read and remains my favorite.

Based loosely on The Little Mermaid, it is told from the point of view of a middle-aged woman who goes only by “The Midwife” (but has a much more colorful past than being a simple doula).

The Midwife is summoned to a decaying seaside kingdom to assist with a royal birth. Upon arrival she finds herself trapped in a strange, dying land. The kitschy trappings of the Prince’s fan club are everywhere, but one of the adoring fans conceals a darker secret. Death hangs heavy in the air, wielding a twisted blade forged of tears of the broken hearted, threatening the life of the royal baby. The Midwife has defeated her share of monsters, but how will she handle a kingdom cursed by the sea itself? No matter what happens, The Midwife swears she will deliver the baby, save the kingdom, and get the smell of dead fish out of her apron—even if it kills her.

The story is by turns hilarious and thrilling. I love the Midwife: world-weary, unimpressed by royalty, and more worried about when lunch is coming than she is by facing down dragons. Kudos to the author for this, as there aren’t nearly enough stories with characters of this ilk. I adored her.

The stories are little bite-sized pieces of pure joy.

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