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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

License to Ensorcell - Katharine Kerr Overall a likeable story, with lots of caveats. I hesitate to put a rating--I happen to love Kerr's Deverry series, and follow Kerr's blog, but I'm not sure she's done herself justice with this book. First, I'm not sure she knows what tone she wants to take. Very early there's a sort of lighthearted mocking at the Agency's classification system; it seems kind of funny the first time but then the overload of acronyms just becomes annoying. I get that they are poking fun, but we don't need the same joke nine different ways. Then on a completely different track, there's Nola's dysfunctional relationship with food. We don't discover it's a full-fledged problem until later in the book--the only clues for the first third are a fridge empty of everything but arugula and the fact that having a cold piece of pizza instead of a healthy salad is guilt inducing. Eating disorders are a hugely charged issue, so I'm not sure if the inclusion was supposed to be an unique character trait, or a sort of a public service announcement or character flaw, but it's one that is disturbing and complex, and the fact that we don't catch it until the boyfriend points it out seems a rather unfortunate trick of character. Are we in her head or not? If we are, why aren't we given enough clues to know? Or is her boyfriend wrong and he's just accusing her of a disorder? Either way, wierdness, when the "weird" is supposed to be about psychics and werewolves and shooters. Then there's the fact that Ari is very knowledgeable about the Middle East, so we have commentary on fighting and political conflict. Again a very serious subject matter. Yet the rest of the book seems more lighthearted. We have Nola's landlord described as having a "lair." We have Ari trying to count the number of cats in her sister's house. We have Aunt Eileen in her 50's sweater sets commenting on appropriate behavior for young ladies, and one of Nola's sources is a psychic drag queen. Do you see what I mean? It takes quite a trick to be balanced between the sadness of some of these situations with the silliness of the story and characters around them, and I don't think it's achieved here. Ari's solution to the eating disorder is to feed Nola; unfortunately, anyone who loves a devoted anorexic knows it's more complex than that. And as a trait it's kind of inconsistent with the rest of Nola's ideal balanced Harmony mindset. We hear no background negativity about her looks, only the certainty/fear that Ari will disappear because of her strangeness.