Thoughts: Mercedes Lackey admitted to writing the Diana Tregarde books because paranormal investigations were big at the time and she had no problem with making a little cash by playing the fads. I’m glad that she did, because although the series isn’t fantastic, it’s still very entertaining to read through. In this one, Diana is called upon to help with a police investigation of a serial murder, and ends up getting tangled up in the middle of a plot to resurrect ancient Aztec gods into modern-day (or relatively modern, at least) Dallas.
I admit, it’s a little disconcerting to read Burning Water and seeing the remarkably un-PC language used throughout. References to “Indians”, “krauts”, and “gypsies” are littered through the pages, terms which people don’t tend to use anymore unless they want to get glared at on the street and called ignorant. Sometimes I had to make myself take a step back and remember that this was all written before PC language was really coming into its heyday, and such terms, while not perfectly acceptable, were still in more common use, and so in context, it’s not that unusual to see them mentioned.
That being said, the attitude towards paganism as a relgion as expressed in the novel is rather ahead of its time, given that even today, 20 years later, some people still don’t have that level of understanding when it comes to non-Abrahamic religions. The idea that there’s no one true way seems to be a common theme in Lackey’s work, though, and so it was no surprise to see it echoed here.
The writing style is still very early-Lackey, lacking some of the polish she attained with more practice, though it still shows a lot of promise of what’s to come, all the good bits that I like about her writing. True to style, too, it’s a rather large amount of build-up, finding the pieces of the puzzle, and a then a relatively short period of high-action tense conclusion at the end.
Burning Water‘s ending was interesting because although there was a conclusion to the immediate problem, it was still remarkably open-ended and unfinished. The immediate resurrection plot ends, but the god is not destroyed, not even really defeated or even daunted, and the reader is left with a slight feeling of incompletion. Which, I have no doubt, was the entire point. The battle was won, but the war goes on, and when one is dealing with things on a scale as grand as gods, you often can’t expect much better at the end.
Definitely a book worth reading if you’re into Lackey’s work or you enjoy a good paranormal investigation that doesn’t get bogged down in being overly dark and gritty.