Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley

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Title: Fate of Flames (Effigies #1)
Author: Sarah Raughley
Release Date: November 22, 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 368
Source: ARC provided by Simon and Schuster Canada
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Overall: 4.5 STARS

Four girls with the power to control the elements and save the world from a terrible evil must come together in the first epic novel in a brand-new series.

When Phantoms—massive beasts made from nightmares and darkness—suddenly appeared and began terrorizing the world, four girls, the Effigies, each gained a unique power to control one of the classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Since then, four girls across the world have continually fought against the Phantoms, fulfilling their cosmic duty. And when one Effigy dies, another girl gains her power as a replacement.

But now, with technologies in place to protect the world’s major cities from Phantom attacks, the Effigies have stopped defending humanity and, instead, have become international celebrities, with their heroic feats ranked, televised, and talked about in online fandoms.

Until the day that New York City’s protection against the Phantoms fails, a man seems to be able to control them by sheer force of will, and Maia, a high school student, unexpectedly becomes the Fire Effigy.

Now Maia has been thrown into battle with three girls who want nothing to do with one another. But with the first human villain that the girls have ever faced, and an army of Phantoms preparing for attack, there isn’t much time for the Effigies to learn how to work together.

Can the girls take control of their destinies before the world is destroyed forever?

Sarah Raughley's Fate of Flames is a very ambitious introduction to the Effigies series. Pitched as a combination of Pacific Rim, Sailor Moon, and The Avengers, I definitely had some high expectations when I first started the book. And you know what? I loved Fate of Flames! It gave me four female superheroes to cheer on as they used their powers to fight monsters and save humankind.

Two days ago, Maia Finley became the newest Fire Effigy, succeeding one of the most legendary Effigies who ever lived: Natalya Filipova. As the world mourns one of its ultimate heroes, rumoured to have committed suicide, the attention has now shifted to Maia, who can barely conjure a flame. You see, there are only four Effigies in the world at a time, each gifted with a classic elemental power: earth, air, fire, and water. And for generations, the Effigies have protected humanity with their cosmic gifts, battling terrifying monsters called Phantoms.

Maia has always been a fangirl of the Effigies. She blogs about them all the time, keeps up with their online fandom sites, and memorizes all their fights against the Phantoms. The Effigies are international celebrities. And now she's one of them? It's completely surreal. But as Maia is about to find out, her idols are far from perfect. They hardly speak to each other. And they each carry trauma from the destruction and deaths caused by the Phantoms. 

But it's more important than ever that the Effigies stand united. A mysterious man named Saul can somehow control an army of Phantoms, and he's wreaking havoc on the world's major cities. And even more curiously, he seems to have a connection to a previous incarnation of the Fire Effigy. The Effigies are an utter mess, but Maia is determined to bring them all together to join the fight against Saul.

I liked that Maia and the other EffigiesBelle, Chae Rin, and Lake—were far from perfect heroines. And considering this is only book one, I didn't really expect them to be. They're all young women who've had a great responsibility and power suddenly thrust onto them with no choice, and each has been physically and mentally affected in some form. Maia is still bright-eyed and eager to help, mostly because she's always looked up to the Effigies, but you can't forget that she has very little experience actually facing the Phantoms.

Belle is icy and cold, but she's also the most battle-hardened of the others. She was personally mentored by Natalya, and in her grief, you can understand why she didn't much care for Maia initially. Chae Rin is jaded and still haunted by a previous fight against the Phantoms, one that hurt many people. And becoming an Effigy has hurt her relationship with her family. And Lake? Well, she's more soft-hearted and scared to fight, not really a warrior at all. Each of the girls have such different personalities, but I found them to be so realistic. These girls don't know each other well, so of course their teamwork level isn't going to be perfectly in sync yet.

And that's where I think Fate of Flames has so much potential to grow into a truly epic series. The Effigies may not be truly ready to take on the Phantoms as a team, but they'll try their hardest to succeed. They're brave and heroic, but what makes them even stronger is the way they overcome their personal fears and doubts to get the job done. And with more training, I think we'll see even more crazy awesome action scenes. I'm looking at you, Maia. Learn to use your scythe!

Diverse female superheroes, thrilling action scenes, international locales, and plenty of intrigue and mystery... What's not to love about Sarah Raughley's Fate of Flames? I absolutely can't wait for the next installment in the Effigies series! 

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