I have mentioned before that I rarely read anthologies cover to cover-which begs the question of why I buy them in the first place. The answer is that I want one-perhaps two-of the stories within, and that I want that one story bad enough to pay for content I know I am likely never to read.
You can imagine how happy I am on those occasions when two or more of the stories in the same anthology resonate with me. These are two such stories, originally published in 2007 in the Wild Thing anthology by Berkley.
“Wild Hearts in Atlantis” by Alyssa Day
The second installment in the Warriors of Poseidon series, “Wild Heart in Atlantis” follows Bastien, one of Atlantis’ seven chosen warriors as he meets his fate in the person of one Katherine (Kat) Fiero, half human, half shapeshifter. At 75 pages, the world building in this story is sketchier than in the first novel in the series; the impression I get is that the reader is expected to be familiar with Atlantis Rising before picking this book up.
Back cover blurb(let?)
Get swept away by the passions that rise out of the unfathomable depths of the lost city of Atlantis…
In the aftermath of the events narrated in Atlantis Rising, Conlan, King of Atlantis, must form alliances with human groups and shifter communities if he is to prevent vampires from taking over Earth-and bringing about the final cataclysm. In order to do this, he sends Bastien, one of his must trusted warriors, to act as liaison with a large group of panther shifters in South Florida.
The idea is to prevent said shifters from siding with a particular group of vampires who have ties to the ones Conlan and company defeated in the first novel. These vampires happen to have access to some ancient scrolls which may (or may not) contain the key to controlling both shifters and humans in large enough numbers to tip the already unstable balance of power.
To fulfill his mission Bastien must, in turn, connect with Kat Fiero, the daughter of the previous alpha of the panther pride in question. In the normal course of things this shouldn’t be an issue, but… all his systems shut down and his wires got crossed a couple of years before when he met her during a brief mission on ‘land’.
Bastien is another tortured hero, though to a much lesser degree than Conlan. One of his darkest memories is that of having to kill a number of babies who have been turned vampire (anyone who has read or watched Interview with the Vampire would understand his reasoning, though). Thankfully, he comes to terms with his feelings for Kat-both his possessiveness of her and his need for her-without too much angst.
For her part, Kat has spent her life stuck in limbo. Not only isn’t she a pure blooded shifter, but her human mother’s legacy is a psychic gift that completely overrides her shifter nature: in the presence of aggression, Kat will inject calmness and serenity, diffusing violent impulses almost to the point of zen. It is not quite clear how much of this ability she ca control-such as during the bar fight, early in the story-and how much is triggered by strong emotion without volition-such as when finding a dying Nick. In the end, though, it matters not, for it’s most tangible effect on Kat is that it doesn’t allow her to shift.
Throughout the action, and despite some shades of the dreaded Deus ex Machina plot device, I liked both Bastien and Kat, and by the story’s end I could believe in the attraction between them, enough to be able to imagine them working through the obstacles before them-from DNA to tradition and so on. My main complaint, though, is the length-I need more pages!
6 out of 10