In Water to Burn, the second Nola O’Grady Novel, Katharine Kerr hits the page with a well written story that takes off from the first word written.
After bringing down a dangerous coven and ending an inter-dimentional drug ring run by agents of Chaos, Nola finds herself in charge of the Agency’s newly established San Francisco office. However, setting up shop comes with its own set of troubles, which range from a lack of furniture to a stream of Chaos spies and the assignment of forbidding Interpol agent Ari Nathan – who also happens to be Nola’s boyfriend. The pressure is on for them to learn how to live and work together. If they don’t, more than just their lives will be at stake when a mysterious element controlling Chaos Master begins using water to kill innocents, deaths that the San Francisco PD can’t explain and have no chance of stopping. Now, the Chaos Master is after Nola and she’ll need to draw upon every resource available to survive.
Water to Burn jumps right into the story, spending only a modest amount of time explaining Kerr’s unique new world and how psychic powers work. While readers of License to Ensorcell will feel right at home, new readers who are starting the series with book two shouldn’t have a problem keeping up with the action since Kerr does a good job of providing the right information at the right time and in the right way to keep readers comfortably following along even with the accronyms. That said, this is a series that deserves to be read from first book to last.
One of the great things about the Nola O’Grady Novels is that you get a mix of political thriller, mystery, urban fantasy, and romance. Even if you’re not inclined toward one of these genres, Water to Burn provides such a nice mixture that you’re likely to label these books according to whatever genre you love best.
As with the first novel, Nola’s family continues to generate the most interesting storylines and keeps you turning page after page because you can’t help but to care about them. However, much of the novel focuses on the hunt for the Chaos Master and tracking down some dangerous characters who are aiming to harm others. The good news is that the primary storylines that are focused on Nola’s work with the Agency seem to be mingling and merging with her family’s storylines – an exellent sign for things to come.
Nola’s relationship with Ari continues to develop. In Water to Burn, their relationship feels much more real and solid than in the first novel. However, that is largely due to the fact that readers get to know their characters on a much more intimate level in this book. This deepening of their characters has the effect of establishing a believable pace for their relationship’s development as interest and passion deepen to love, binding them together and giving them a reason to risk their own safety to protect each other.
All in all, Water to Burn is an excellent addition to the Nola O’Grady Novels. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy a thoughtful reading experience, who like fast paced investigations, and quirky magical families. From start to finish, Kerr deftly propels the story forward through clever twists and turns that will leave readers wanting to pick up the next book in the series.