by Philippa Ballantine
Series: Book of the Order #1
Published on October 26, 2010 by Ace
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Steampunk
Between the living and the dead is the Order of the Deacons, protectors of the Empire, guardians against possession, sentinels enlisted to ward off the malevolent haunting of the geists...
Among the most powerful of the Order is Sorcha, now thrust into partnership with the novice Deacon, Merrick Chambers. They have been dispatched to the isolated village of Ulrich to aide the Priory with a surge of violent geist activity. With them is Raed Rossin, Pretender to the throne that Sorcha is sworn to protect, and bearer of a terrible curse.
But what greets them in the strange settlement is something far more predatory and more horrifying than any mere haunting. And as she uncovers a tradition of twisted rituals passed down through the dark reaches of history, Sorcha will be forced to reconsider everything she thinks she knows.
And if she makes it out of Ulrich alive, what in Hell is she returning to?
I don’t even know what to say about Geist. The first time I read it (yes, I did reread it), I thought there wasn’t enough background–plenty of action and adventure, but not enough supporting details. When I read it again, while yes, I knew what would happen, I realized how seamlessly Ballantine weaves in her world with the story. You don’t need to know everything but you want to know it all. It’s the perfect setup for a series. I loved this book, its originality, the fast-paced storyline packed with mystery and fantastical adventure, and especially the characters (can I have Raed please??). I’m not sure I can put into words what Ballantine puts on the page, so I highly recommend you read Geist yourself.
I think one of the downfalls of this book, perhaps its only one, is that Ballantine creates a very complex world and it’s not all explained in this book. I wanted to know more about the Order and its history, the main characters’ backgrounds, and just the world in general. Ballantine has such an interesting concept with the Deacons and I would’ve liked to learn a bit more about where they came from and how they got to where they are when Geist takes place. Granted, it leaves for quite a bit of mystery and more than enough cliffhangers for future books but I’d have liked to see a bit more detail in the novel.
That being said, where the story lacks in background information, it makes up for it with an action-packed plot riddled with tension. Geist blends your classic fantasy adventure with a touch of steampunk and the edginess of an urban fantasy. There’s even a few occasions of romance and comedy. Somehow, Ballantine managed to combine several genres into one original story. I’ve never read anything like this book. It put a new twist on “supernatural.” I think that’s one of the things I enjoyed the most about Geist. It touches on a subject matter not typically seen in the paranormal or supernatural novels of this day and age. Sure, there are books out there about ghosts, but they’re not geists.
But the best part of Geist? Definitely the characters. From the tough, cigar-smoking Sorcha Faris to the level-headed Merrick Chambers, Ballantine created characters that really stay with you after reading. The growth of friendship between Sorcha and Merrick provides a bit of humor into the mix. When Raed steps on the scene, the pot gains a little romance for just the right amount of tension to keep the reader wondering what’s going to happen next–or a better question, what is Sorcha going to do next? Her unpredictable nature coupled with a sharp tongue and sense of duty made her one of the more interesting heroines I’ve read about. And Raed…there’s just something about him that makes me want to jump in and take Sorcha’s place. He compliments her while bringing a balance to their little group. The fire of Sorcha, the calm of Merrick, and the cunning of Raed makes one hell of a team.
While Geist started off a little slow, it picked up into a whirlwind adventure of geists, Deacons, and the corruption of an Empire. If you’re looking for your next book club read, or another novel for your to-be-read list, look no further. Ballantine delivered a unique tale of fantasy and the supernatural. You don’t want to miss out on this novel.