Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Effigies, book 1
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Maia Finley has always wanted to be like an Effigy. She’s idolized them for so long from afar. But when one of her heroes unexpectedly dies and she becomes the next Fire Effigy, Maia is thrust into a whole different reality than what she’s always read about. Now she must quickly become the hero she’s always envisioned Effigies to be and stop the rampage of Phantoms across the globe and the mysterious Saul who seems to be able to control them.
(Quick Note: this is as always a spoiler free review – there’s just commentary about the main characters and basic explanations about the world the author’s created)
Sarah Raughley crafts a wholly original tale that is both familiar, mesmerizing, and eerie. This story has left me both amazed and slightly terrified but in a good way. Fate of Flames will make you feel a variety of emotions both good and bad, aligning your feelings and experiences with the main character, Maia. But you will feel compelled to keep reading until the very last page – it’s that good of a book.
The world of Fate of Flames is set in modern times with historical references here and there but with fantasy elements added by way of Effigies and phantoms. I would not consider this book to be dystopian but it has that feel to it. People are going about their lives as normal unless there’s a phantom attack, which they are warned about by these anti-phantom devices they’ve developed over the years – I forget the term for them and the science-y terms used to describe how to really work but you get the basic gist of them. These devices are built as structures (like a tower) or incorporated into the foundations of a place (like a bridge). They can be used as a repellent against phantoms and as a warning systems of an upcoming attack. From what I gather, the appearance of phantoms has been going on at least two centuries (in their recorded history), which is why I don’t really consider this to be dystopian but just Young Adult Fantasy.
Anyway, one thing I appreciate about this book is that we only have Maia’s POV. As far as the world knows Effigies have always been four girls representing a particular element. You get to meet the (currently) other three Effigies who I’d also considered main characters as well but the story is told in first person by Maia, which I think is best. The experiences Maia, the principle character, goes through as she learns to adjust to being an Effigy and all that entails makes the story that much more powerful and engrossing. We are getting fresh eyes into this world as we – the first-time readers – and from Maia, the fangirl turned Effigy. Maia is such a wonderful character who you root for from start to finish. It feels like this story gives new meaning to suddenly having the fate of the world on your shoulders.
Another thing I appreciate is that there’s more to the phantoms than what we normally assume them to be. They are corporeal but horrifyingly disfigured – the stuff of nightmares made flesh. I like the way Raughley describes them but I wasn’t too…impressed by them? (for lack of better words) – probably cause I’m not in that world seeing these monsters in the flesh but I can imagine how terrifying they are supposed to be and sympathize with the terror the people feel.
The fact that the next Effigies are always chosen at random means you get a diverse set of girls all from different countries. I enjoyed the fact that the main characters were diverse in origins, personalities, and back-stories. I don’t really remember where the other three girls we meet in the book are from but I think they’re (respectively) from France, Canada, and England (I’m guessing). Maia is from the United States.
Fate of Flames is definitely set up as an introductory book to the rest of this series – it’s got that feel to it – but incredible things still happen. I don’t know how far the story will go but I’m looking forward to reading the next book, Siege of Shadows.