Guys, can you believe that we are rounding out the Flights of Fantasy Book Club with this very last review-slash-discussion? (Never fear, however, as we are definitely bringing back book club in 2017, with new authors to try and new books to read. Don't forget to sign up for Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2017!) Last month (or well, in my case, very early on in December), our book club pick was Geist by Philippa Ballantine. Today, Rachel & I are sharing our thoughts on this novel, and we would love for you guys to join us!
Deacon Sorcha Faris is considered one of the best, a stalwart member of the Order of the Deacons who protects the Empire and its citizens from the dangers of geists. When her partner is put out of commission by a particularly nasty opponent, Sorcha is paired with novice Deacon Merrick Chambers on a new mission. The two are tasked to go to the village of Ulrich to come to the aid of the Priory there against a geist infestation. The way there isn't easy, and it is at a particularly troubling time that they encounter Raed Rossin, named Pretender to the Throne and bearer of a terrible curse. Together, the three of them journey to the settlement, only to realize that what awaits them there is more haunting than just the usual geists and more terrible than they could ever have imagined.
Confession: I didn't read the synopsis of this story. In fact, if you watched my December TBR video, I said something about this book featuring shapeshifting (which I was both wrong and right about). So, I basically went into Geist blind, and I was reminded of how much I enjoy doing that. Sure, it took me a couple of chapters before I really had an idea of the world and its structure. Sure, it took me a little longer than that to understand the terms that Sorcha and Merrick used. But after I got through my initial period of confusion, I was totally hooked! Ballantine has come up with a world that is equal parts terrifying and fascinating. The Deacons are the primary source of power, as only they can sense and battle the geists that threaten to possess and murder the ordinary citizens. The rest of the world is typical of a fantasy set-up (an empire, various kingdoms under it, a second source of incredible power apart from the monarchy), so once I figured out the Deacons and the magic, I settled right in without any issues.
But what really sold me on this story were the characters. I warmed to Raed Rossin immediately, sensing the good man that was making the best of a half-life brought on by the curse that plagued him. He was just my type of guy, and I totally loved him right from the get go. The same cannot be said of both Merrick and Sorcha, however, who I took a lot longer to warm up to. Merrick was the one I really felt for first of the two, mostly because he's a powerful man yet still a total newbie at being a Deacon on mission. His awkwardness, paired with that brilliant brain of his, was what really won me over. Sorcha was a different story. She's so guarded, and it made it difficult to feel for her. However, once she demonstrates her powerful abilities and her unlimited loyalty and bravery, it wasn't hard to start liking her. These three together made for a formidable trio, both terrifying to me in the scope of their power and also attractive to me in what they had to bring to the table.
So, I clearly liked the world. I clearly liked the characters. What really cemented the overall positive rating I ended up giving this book was the story. Even though the beginning was a bit rough with all the new information thrown our way, it mellows out into a tale that is really compelling. It's simpler in scope than I had imagined it would be, but that doesn't mean it was any less compelling. I could barely tear my eyes from the page, as I was constantly curious about what these guys would do or say or experience next. It's quite a fun ride from start to finish, and the story alone will be enough to woo the reader into appreciating the time they spend with this novel.
Basically, in case you couldn't already tell, Geist was definitely a book I'm glad we picked to read for book club! Adventure and intrigue, romance and friendship and magic - this book has all this, and a bit of humor tossed in for flavor. If you're interested in reading an adult fantasy that is pretty easy to get through and really good, I would highly recommend giving this one a shot.
Every time we share about our book club reads, we'll be answering the questions below! We'd love for you to join us and share your answers in the comments or in your own post. Don't forget to leave a link in the comments or in the monthly link-ups.
Who is your favorite character? I’m sure it's pretty obvious from my review, but Raed Rossin is my favorite. He's just such a good guy, enduring the painful and terrifying family curse and still trying to do right by those under his care.
Would you read more books by this author? I'm planning on checking out the next in this series!
Geist by Philippa Ballantine | Series: Book of the Order #1
Publisher: Ace | Publication Date: October 26, 2010