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Geist by Philippa Ballantine
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Dec 12, 2010

it was amazing

I have two reviews to give for Philippa Ballantine’s book Geist.

The first is the short review. The cave man version, as given by my slightly hairier Cro-Magnon alter ego Thag: “Geist good! Thag like! You buy!”

Thag is a man of few words.

The second was a lot harder to write, simply because writing a really good review that sounds honest is a lot harder than writing a man one. That’s my excuse for taking this long to write a review anyway.

Make no mistake, Geist is good, really good. Ballantine has found a way to make Ghosts scary again. As I mentioned in my review of Unholy Ghosts, ghosts usually play second fiddle to something far uglier, but the geists of Philippa Ballantine’s world are entirely nasty enough without being cheesy. While of course there is more going on than an infestation of the undead, I never felt like a geist attack was something the characters could brush off.

If you haven’t read Geist already, then you might be unprepared for Deacon Sorcha Farris, Geist’s hard drinking, cigar smoking, ass kicking and ghost banishing protagonist. I say protagonist rather than hero because when you first meet Sorcha, you might not actually like her that much. Stick with her though, and you soon see there is far more to the deacon than her exterior would let on.

Balancing Sorcha is the junior deacon Merrick, who backs up Sorcha’s abilities at banishing with his own ghost sensing powers and a far more (at least initially) laid back approach to life. Merrick serves as an excellent foil to Sorcha and as a team they are a very believable (not to mention extremely readable) ghost fighting team.

Raed, known as the Young Pretender, is a pirate captain who rounds out the narrative from his perspective. Raed has a curse laid on him that had to have been thought up at 3am on a starless night, and it serves as a backdrop to his part of the story before becoming a part of the story in its own right.

Geist works on several levels. If you’re looking for an excellent fantasy novel with plenty of action and some sex scenes that will leave you in dire need of a cold shower (or a willing partner) then Geist is your book.

I really only have one criticism of the book, and that’s I would have liked to know more about the Order that Sorcha and Merrick belong to. She hints at an extremely rich and complex society within the larger society and I’m hoping the sequel Spectyr will show me more.

I was once lucky enough to interview Philippa and we talked a lot about Geist. She described it too me as “three days of sex in a blimp”, but I think Geist is a lot more than that. She has taken several fantasy rotes and turned them on their ear, giving readers something entirely fresh that carves out its own niche in the fantasy genre with a blend of steampunk, fantasy and paranormal romance.

Highly Recommended.


N.B This review also appears on my website www.andrewjackwriting.com
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