Mortal Compass
by Ann Cory, paranormal (2009)
Samhain Publishing, $2.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-639-6


Rook Vasser. Faolan. Ember Chalane. Cadoc. Ravyn Mysts.

What is this, Ms Cory? Amateur Dungeons & Dragons fanfiction night?

Rook Vasser is a vampire. Of course, he's cool as a vampire but he doesn't do that biting and killing stuff. He's nice that way. His clan leader Faolan is currently dying and other top dog vampires are currently waging a war to succeed him. Rook is sad because the clan of Ravyn Mysts is a happy one, living in harmony and "sworn against spilling blood unless provoked". Rook himself has used his amazing willpower to forgo having to gorge on human blood. Now those upstarts are bleeding "innocents" dry and Rook is feeling blue. You'd think those villains think they are vampires or something.

Ember Chalane is a heroine, and therefore she's a healer. She comes to this region of South America, called the Blood Mountains, for some R&R. After saving a wolf from a trap - a heroine has to do what she has to do - and finding a strange stone on the forest floor, she finds herself being spied upon by our hero. Rook needs the stone, which is a moonstone that can help Faolan become better.

He then accuses her of stealing the moonstone while Ember insists that she can't give the stone that she had picked off the ground to him. He is dangerous and looks angry, but I guess it's the principle that matters to Ember.

A smirk passed her heart-shaped lips. "If the stone is so sacred, then why would you leave it in the open for anyone to find?"

"I didn't leave it here."

"So it appeared all by itself?"

Exasperated, he clenched his fists. "It was stolen by a member of my clan. I've come to retrieve it."

When she didn't comply he thought he'd explode. He'd have to find a way to get through to her. Very soon things were going to turn ugly, and she’d be at the center of it.

"Look," he reasoned. "You aren't safe here."

Her lips turned down. "I was fine until you showed up."

"I'm not the only one seeking the stone. Am I in any way being unclear?"

She jutted out her chin. "I refuse to be chased away by veiled threats."

Anger swirled in his gut. Veiled? She had no idea the severity of her situation.

"Your stubbornness will get you killed."

"Killed?" Her lips twitched. "Why would someone kill me?"

Because she's a bloody stupid cretin? After all, she's the one arguing with a stranger in a rainforest in South America.

"Then I take it you're a vampire?"

"I am," he answered with a wicked gleam in his eyes.

Ember took a deep breath and forced herself to remain calm. She'd always believed vampires existed, though she never expected to come into contact with one. As a healer she'd seen many things through the eyes of others. Those visions taught her to be open-minded and non-judgmental. But her belief in vampires didn't help to put her at ease. Instead, it frightened her more. A handsome stranger with an attitude she could handle. A vampire? Not so much. So far he hadn't attacked her. She could run... and end up lost in the rainforest. Come nightfall that would pose a problem. Her options were limited. Maybe she could still find a way to get herself out of this mess?

I'd suggest mercy killing. And seriously, I'd be impressed if Ms Cory managed to write the above without bursting out in laughter.

"I must look real tasty to you right now."

He folded his arms. "I'm able to control myself when I want to."

"And do you want to?" Her pulse beat loudly in her ears while she awaited his answer.

"For the moment."

Did I just read that she just asked a vampire whether he wanted to munch on her? Why is she putting ideas of killing her inside his head?

And on and on this story goes, until I feel as if I'm trapped in this putrefying wretched waste of time with no Mortal Compass of my own to get out with all my brain cells intact. It's not every day an author can embarrass herself so thoroughly in such a short story, and lucky me, I have to be at the receiving end when it happens. Come back, Edward Cullen! All is forgiven.

Rating: 09


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