Geist (A Book of the Order)
Philippa Ballantine
ISBN-10: 0441019617

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Sorcha, powerful protector of the Empire against malevolent hauntings, is called to a small settlement. But more is occurring there than “geist” activity. It’s a conspiracy of evil that reaches back to her own Abbey. Even if she survives, what hell would she be returning to?

Philippa Ballantine’s Geist is a lush fantasy that straddles many subgenres: fantasy, steampunk, paranormal, but is a solid read that makes reader’s comfortable in the vivid mash-up of the various tropes.

Deacon Sorcha Faris is a protector in an Order whose task is securing the safety of the world from geists (ghosts) whose sole focus is possessing the innocent. Sorcha and her husband, Kolya, fight the geist with their individual and intricate powers, (Kolya is a Sensitive who guides Sorcha’s Active powers), but when Kolya is injured in a surprise attack, Sorcha is assigned a new partner, Merrick Chambers.

The pair is sent to the village of Ulrich to investigate unusual geist attacks and along the way they meet Reade, a captain with a past and a few secrets he’d like to keep to himself. Sorcha and Raed develop an attraction for one another, despite her ties to Kolya as the journey continues. When they come ashore in Ulrich, they discover more than they expected in both the town and each other.

Ballantine has crafted a highly conceptualized magical and political system in her novel. In lesser hands, this intricate, developed universe may have been cluttered and distracting, but she manages to keep her reader engaged and interested without sacrificing the sophisticated tapestry of the intricate world.

Geist is full of action and characters that are finely developed and conflicted by the roles they must play and their individual parts in resolving some of the novel’s greatest challenges. I found Sorcha to be a colorful, out-of-the-norm character; a hero who is both brave and brass and unapologetic about how she lives her life or the means she takes to complete her missions.

This is not, however, a “guilty pleasure” novel, and not for readers who want to leisurely read. I’ll warn you now that once you start Geist, you won’t be able to stop. Prepare yourself for a long haul because you won’t be putting this one down. Action is on nearly every page and Sorcha’s sarcastic, anti-social manner is both endearing and funny and will have you cringing, laughing and cheering her along.

Highly recommended.

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