Fiction Fool's Reviews > Geist

Geist by Philippa Ballantine
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May 13, 2011

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bookshelves: reviewed, adult, steampunk, paranormal-urban-fantasy
Read from July 13 to August 01, 2011

Rating: (♥ ♥ ♥1/2)
Merrick slipped and fell, but she never let go, shielding his body with her own. She was not about to lose another Sensitive to a contrary geist. Her lungs seemed on the verge of collapse, her eyes burning in her head, and then . . . and then . . . the storm passed, leaving them gasping in the aftermath. Pyet still twinkled on her hands, ready for more action as she pulled herself upright. Merrick was lying there, panting and staring up at her. Certainly for a first real-life battle experience, this one would be hard to beat.

Sorcha found she was smiling. She wiped her forehead, one Gauntlet already inactive. She glanced at the left one, still burning with white fire. With a slight smile she pulled out a cigar from her pocket and lazily raised it to her mouth. Merrick gaped as she used the treasured talisman, still burning with the fires of the rune, to calmly light it. She grinned at him while he continued to stare speechlessly, the smoke curling past her eyes, and took pleasure in his horror. With a mocking smile and a measured shake of her hand, she extinguished the flames. "Ah, white fire." She motioned with her head to the lit cigar. "Preserves the flavor."

I so love prickly, cigar smoking, tough girls, don't you? They kinda remind me of a female version of Logan or Hellboy. In this case, I think Geist's heroine Sorcha is probably closer to a Cary Grant with boobs and a feminine swagger.

I Just finished Geist, the first book in the Book of the Order series by Philippa Ballantine, and I'm now starting on the second book, Spectyr. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect with Geist . Even though a romance is present, it's not the main premice of the story. I guess I expected Geist to be a paranormal romance with strong fantasy elements, which it was, but there's also a slight element of steampunk as well.

The story opens in the town of Vermillion where a religious organization, known as The Order, has sent two of their best Deacons to deal with the possibility of a Geist attack. Geist's are ghostly entities, often demonic, from the "Otherside" that try to break through into the real world, possessing humans and causing serious mayhem in their wake. Deacon's are the protectors The Order uses to keep Geists and the Otherside in check and they always work in pairs. Consisting of "Actives" (Enforcers who channel energy from the Otherside) and "Sensitives" (Seers of the Otherside.) It's probably easiest to think of them as "weapon" and "sight." One cannot work successfully without the other. If caught alone without their partner, an Active would be blind and a Sensitive would be weaponless, more or less. Sorcha Faris is an "Active" and her current partner Kolya, a "Sensitive," are both sent to monitor a gathering crowd of protesters for Geist activity. But when her partner, who is also her husband in a marriage that is both broken and loveless, is severely injured, Sorcha is partnered with a knew "Sensitive" by the name of Merrick Chambers and sent on a mission that is certain to fail. On their journey they meet up with the rogue pirate Raed. Also known as "The Pretender" to the Thrown as his father was sent into exile before Raed could claim his rightful title. Now he lives his life on the run as a wanted man awaiting the day he can claim back the thrown from it's current occupant. But that's only the least of Raed's problems. He also lives with an ancient family curse that, when spurred by Geist activity, turns him into a frightening beast he has no control over.

What did I like about Geist ?
I love the premise Ms. Ballantine created with this series. It's a refreshing concept in a market flooded with vampires, shifters, and demon's that are all sexy hunks, rather than true monsters.. All the characters in Geist are wonderfully written and the world itself is richly detailed. I was intrigued from the very start. But I honestly can't say, out of the three main characters, Sorcha, Merrick and Raed, which one is my favorite. They were all such great characters that I love all three equally. I also love the fact that Sorcha's a tough, independent, kick-ass, cigar smoking heroine, that can hold her own with the best of them. The dialogue between these three is often witty, entertaining and adds to their strange relationship. But I think the thing I liked the most about Geist is the fact that it's unlike anything else I've read so far.

What didn't I like about Geist ?
The story is a bit complex at the beginning and was a little hard (for me) to comprehend. There is so much detail thrown at you all at once in the first chapter that it can make your head spin. But I also started the book late at night after I got all my children to bed, so exhaustion may have been a factor in that case. Another thing that niggled at me a bit was that Sorcha didn't always stay true to her tough, dominating, prickly characterization. I think those traits are the best thing about her character and I would have liked to see that stay consistent.

There were also various places in the story that seemed rushed; like it was an abridged version. Which makes me wonder if there is missing subtext on the cutting room floor somewhere that would have added more depth to the story and the personal relationships between the characters. I say this because it seemed like the relationship between Raed and Sorcha happened so fast, I felt like I missed something really important between them. Most of the time, you hear people complaining about a book being too wordy or descriptive, but I kinda felt like the opposite was the case here. Which was frustrating, because if that weren't the case, this book would've been an Epic Win for me. There is so much untapped potential in Geist . I would have liked to see the same amount of detail given to the relationships that was given to the world building and character development. But this is only the first book in this series, and most of the time each new book improves upon the series. If that's the case with the Book of the Order, then I'd say it's definitely working it's way toward Epicness.

My final verdict?
Geist is a unique and interesting story. It has an excellent premise and strong plot, with vivid characters and world building that is complex and richly detailed. Very creative and sprinkled with witty dialogue, it promises to be a great series and was a very enjoyable read. Despite the few issues I had with Geist, I'm definitely hooked and curious to see what happens next with Sorcha, Merrick and Raed in the second book, Spectyr . Which I've already got loaded and ready to go on my kindle.

I'd recommend Geist to people who like tough, independent, kick-assish heroines. I'd also recommend it to fans of Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and even Steampunk fans might enjoy it too.
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