CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 16 . . . . December 22, 2017
Siege of Shadows is the sequel to Fate of Flames and the second novel in Sarah Raughley's "Effigies" series. The Effigies are a group of four young women, each with supernatural powers related to one of the four classical elements (earth, air, fire and water). The Effigies are tasked with defending the world against phantoms, hideous monsters made from bone and rotting flesh that attack anything that is not protected by specific anti-phantom devices. When the devices fail, the phantoms wreak havoc, and only the Effigies can stop them. Whenever an Effigy dies, a new girl spontaneously manifests powers and replaces her. The first novel in the series begins with Maia Finley suddenly finding herself to be the latest fire Effigy. Siege of Shadows begins right where the first novel ends, and, in the timeline of the series, only a few months have passed since Maia became an Effigy.
Since the first novel, Maia has trained and improved as an Effigy, both physically and mentally, but in this instalment, she faces challenges even greater than fighting enormous monsters. The Sect, the inter-governmental organization that trains and controls the Effigies, is plagued with infighting and betrayals, and Maia and the other Effigies do not know whom they can trust. Their enemy from the first book, a young man named Saul who claims to be a fifth Effigy and who can control the phantoms, using them for destructive purposes, has escaped and seems to be building an army of people with Effigy-like abilities. Maia and the other Effigies must discover the Sect's secrets and find out how their own powers, Saul, and the phantoms are all connected in the hopes of stopping Saul from destroying the world. And they must do all this while faced with the media storm of being celebrities around the world.
This novel deepens the mythology of the series. The reader learns more about the mysterious origins of the phantoms and their possible relationship to the origins of the Effigies. It is a necessity to read the first book in the series, Fate of Flames, before reading Siege of Shadows. The storylines are nearly continuous, and Siege of Shadows relies heavily on the reader's knowing details of the characters and the world. This installment does not really solve any of the mysteries presented in the first book. Instead, these mysteries just get deeper and more complex. Siege of Shadows is a fun, action packed read, but to enjoy it fully, a reader will need to commit to reading the entire series.
Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.