Free E-Read: Carrie Vaughn's The Nymph's Child

Readers searching for a compelling short fantasy story with a touch of romance should look no further than Carrie Vaughn's short story "The Nymph's Child." This e-read is currently hosted for free at Fantasy Magazine.

Vaughn has made a name for herself with her long-running urban fantasy series about heroine Kitty Norville — most recently featured in the anthology Kitty's Greatest Hits. However, "The Nymph's Child" reads much more like the author's April release, After the Golden Age. While there aren't superheroes in this story, "The Nymph's Child" certainly has several unexpected heroes. 

The short story introduces readers to a pair of pirates, The Nymph's Captain Alan and First Mate Gregory, who are strung up in a dungeon for their crimes. When Alan reveals to the magistrate that Gregory is actually a woman named Grace and that she is pregnant with their child, Grace is granted mercy — despite her desire to die with the rest of the crew. The story picks up sixteen years later when Grace is unexpectedly reunited with the only other surviving member of the crew. But will Grace reveal the secrets of The Nymph that she thought would go with her to the grave?

This free e-read showcases the author's skill at bringing characters and worlds to life with just a few well-placed words. Grace and her daughter Kate positively leap off the page, and readers will mourn for the brave Captain Alan, cut down in his prime. The settings are equally vibrant. In passages about life on a ship or in the small coastal town where Grace makes her home, readers will be able to hear the sea's crashing and brisk wind as it weaves through the story's background.

However, it is truly Vaughn's stunning use of flashbacks that will make "The Nymph's Child" a memorable read. The author twists the tale in ways that are completely unexpected. And although much of the tale's action happens in the past, the danger and mystery are created so seamlessly that readers will feel real fear — even for the characters that they know survive.

Ready to be swept away into a great adventure? Read the short story "The Nymph's Child" here for free.