________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number . . . .February 17, 2017


Fate of Flames. (Effigies; Book One).

Sarah Raughley.
Toronto, ON: Simon Pulse, 2016.
353 pp., hardcover & eBook, $23.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4814-6677-6 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4814-6679-0 (eBook).

Grades 8-12 / Ages 13-17.

Review by Tara Stieglitz.

*** /4



The phantom surged out of the street, leaving a violent torrent or rubble in its wake. Its body arched in the air, knocking off a traffic light, smashing through lampposts with a long reptilian head covered in a helmet of black bones.

It was coming for us.

“Run!” yelled the officer, though I could barely hear him, what with the little girl splitting my eardrums.

Run? Where? The phantom was yards and yards away, granted, but it was coming for us. There was no way we could outrun it. There was just no way. We were dead.


Fate of Flames is the first novel in Sarah Raughley’s “Effigies” series. The Effigies are a quartet of young women, each with the power of a different classical element (earth, water, air, and fire). They are tasked with fighting Phantoms, terrifying monsters made of bone, rotting flesh and ghost material that have overtaken the planet. When an Effigy dies, a new one is chosen by fate to continue the fight. The novel begins soon after the death of the previous fire Effigy leads protagonist Maia to the discovery that she is the successor fire Effigy. These events coincide with the appearance of Saul, a mysterious young man who can control the Phantoms for his own murderous and destructive ends and who has a strange obsession with Maia. Maia must learn to use her new powers to fight Saul while also investigating the suspicious death of her predecessor and uncovering a conspiracy within the Sect, the organization that controls and polices the Effigies.

     Fate of Flames and the “Effigies” series have a lot of promise. The premise is original and holds a lot of possibility. Beyond that premise, the novel is somewhat clumsy in execution. The characters feel like stereotypes taken directly from other contemporary young adult fantasy novels, and the plot is uneven, making for a sometimes frustrating read. Being the first in a series, the book presents a lot of mysteries and questions and doesn’t fully resolve any of them leaving the reader with an unsatisfactory ending. Despite these drawbacks, the story has potential and will appeal to fans of young adult fantasy. It certainly succeeds in making the reader long for the second installment.


Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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