Disclaimer: I have met Ms. Ballantine several times, and we are acquainted through social media. She has appeared twice as a guest on the Way of the Buffalo podcast. A review copy of Wrayth was provided by the publisher.

Wraith is the third of four books in Phillipa Ballantine’s “Books of the Order” series, and continues the spirit hunting adventures of Deacons Sorcha Farris and Merrick Chambers, along with the possessed prince-turned pirate Raed Rossin. The novel contains all of the fantasy action, cool ghost-centric magic, and dark political rumblings that fans of the series have come to expect. It moves the plot along in some very cool ways, introducing the reader to new Geistlords, spirits with immense power and subtle plans. One is the titular Wrayth, a sort of vampiric hive mind with plans of conquest. Another is the Fensena, a Coyote spirit who seems just as much the trickster as his mythological counter-part.

The Books of the Order are a fun, high-concept series full of all kinds of twists and turns, and I can’t wait for book four to bring everything to the suitably epic conclusion. Wrayth is an enjoyable entry that reveals lots of new details for our main characters, and arranges all the pieces on the board for the cataclysmic finale, but it suffers from the same problems that many penultimate series entries do: It saves a bit too much for the last book.

Overall, the novel feels a little too pared down. The pace is very fast, and rewards a careful read, but all the adventure passes by in a blur. The series focuses mainly on the three leads, with some major revelations about Sorcha’s origins, and Raed’s connection to the Rossin, the leonine geistlord that rides him. Aside from a few notable exceptions, the supporting characters feel more like extras. Raed’s crew members and the other deacons don’t really get much page space to shine. In a few places, I had to go back to the earlier entries to recall who some of the characters were. Some plot threads were snipped a bit too suddenly and cleanly, and the reader didn’t nearly get as much of a chance to steep in the wonderfully gothic atmosphere of Arkaym as in previous books. I would have loved to have seen this novel spread out over two books, or even given another hundred pages or so to breathe. Ms. Ballantine’s tales are a fine vintage, well worth sipping and savoring. Even the quick shots offered in Wrayth are fine, but I hope that the final book gives us more time to enjoy the world and characters Ms. Ballantine has created.