“Fate of Flames” by Sarah Raughley is the first book in the series “The Effigies.” It’s a story about an alternate world much like ours, but one in which evil creatures, Phantoms, have appeared to plague humankind. At the same time, four girls have suddenly gained powers that help them fight the Phantoms.
When one of the girls with the power dies, another is created — seemingly at random.The girls are called Effigies, and for obvious reasons, they become famous.
The story begins with high school student Maia, the most recent girl to receive the power. She hasn’t told anyone, even the uncle with whom she lives. Since her parents and twin sister died in a fire, Maia has had trouble making friends. She feels guilty that she lived while everyone else died. Ironically, the power she gets from the Effigy who died is the power of fire.
Maia has been a huge fan of one of the Effigies, Belle, who is described as “tall, regal, and proud, her long blond hair twisted into a braid over her slender shoulder — a beautiful warrior princess in a Valentino Bambolina dress…” But when Maia eventually meets the Effigies in person, they are not at all what she expected.
In fact, very little of her new life is what she expected. She has nightmares about the lives of the previous Fire Effigies, she delves into a mystery regarding a mysteriously powerful man who wants something from her — something she doesn’t know how to give him, and the other Effigies aren’t interested in being friends. Their government controllers are demanding, and Maia develops feeling for one of them.
The story is well told. The first person narrative lends itself to the reader understanding much of Maia’s motivation and emotions. The action is almost nonstop, and Raughley does a good job fleshing out the differing characters of the four Effigies. The many mysteries to solve continue until the last page, yet Raughley gives this first book a solid ending.
Those who enjoy young adult fantasy will love this book and eagerly await the second in the series. Aimed at teenagers fourteen and up, this one will also appeal to adult fantasy lovers.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Simon Pulse, for review purposes.