Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: Geist (A Book of The Order,#1)
by Philippa Ballantine

Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Series: A Book of the Order, #1
Author: Philippa Ballantine
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Publisher: Ace Books (Penguin Group)
Read an Excerpt || Book Trailer
Where to Purchase: Amazon || Kindle
Reviewed by: Aimee
Source: Copy provided by Author for Review
Rating: 4 out of 5

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 Mrs. 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.

If you haven't already, enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Geist. Which I'd like to personally thank the author for so graciously donating.
ratingFiction Fool

Other Reviews:
My Bookish Ways - 4 out of 5
All Things Urban Fantasy - 3 out of 5
Fiction Vixen - 4 out of 5
Smexybooks - 4 out of 5
Lurv A la Mode - 1 out of 5
Goodreads - 3.87 average rating

Other Books by Philippa Ballatine:

Spectyr (A Book of the Order, #2)
Read an Excerpt || Amazon || Kindle
Though one of the most powerful Deacons, Sorcha Faris has a tarnished reputation to overcome. She and her partner, Deacon Merrick Chambers, find themselves chasing down rumors of geists, but long for a return to real action. So they jump at the chance to escort a delegation sent to negotiate the terms of the Emperor’s engagement. Their destination: the exotic city of Orinthal.

But a string of murders has Orinthal on edge, and Sorcha and Merrick are asked to investigate. Meanwhile the Emperor’s sister has unwittingly released a cruel and vengeful goddess, one who it bent on destroying her enemies, including the geistlord who resides inside the shapeshifting rival to the throne—Sorcha’s lover…

Phoenix Rising (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1)
Read an Excerpt || Amazon || Kindle
Evil is most assuredly afoot—and Britain’s fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade . . . and a librarian.

These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences—the Crown’s clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling—will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest . . . and she’s prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the perilous fray.

For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun—he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices—must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot . . . or see England fall to the Phoenix!

Chasing The Bard
Listen to first Chapter || Amazon || Kindle
He is born into the human world with a gift; a gift that brings him to the
attention of powers both dark and light from the World of the Fey. Sive, the goddess of battle, hopes that he may be able to change the fate of her people.

The Fey are dying, killed by something beyond the boundaries of worlds, and Sive will do anything to save them. So she enlists the help of her trickster cousin Puck to guard the child, and watch him grow into his gift. But a dark power imprisoned by human and Fey, plots to destroy both worlds, and unmake all that they have created.

Can one boy stop the destruction, even if he is William Shakespeare?

Digital Magic
Listen to first Chapter || Amazon || Kindle
The Fey are gone...and with it, magic. At least, that is how things seem with the demise of the Dark Goddess and The Bard.

"Lord what fools these mortals be."

Penheram is a quaint, sleepy English village where people escape the 21st century. Hiding from the world of laptop computers, the Internet, and wireless communications, is Ella. Once a celebrated writer, now barren of ideas and drive, she resigns to a life of a deadline-free solitude. Everything changes with the arrival of a shape shifting thief. Suddenly everyone from the local librarian to the lady of the manor begin to change, revealing true natures and dangerous secrets.

Something in this sleepy English village is awakening...and some of these things were better left alone.

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