While I love fantasy novels (they are definitely among my favorite genres), for some reason it seems to take me a bit longer to read them than it does other genres, such as contemporary. While this isn’t always the case (there are some that I flew through in one sitting), I think it has something to do with the fact that when I’m truly enjoying a fantasy novel, I can’t just mindless read through it – I have to pay attention to every single name, word, and detail, and it takes me a bit longer to find the peace and quiet needed to actually form a good bond with the book. It took me about a week to get through this one, and it wasn’t because I didn’t like it. In fact, I did like it quite a bit (at least most things about it).
The cover of this book is stunning – the city skyline and the clouds make for a really eye-catching and appealing dust jacket, and the gold lettering adds to the title and overall appearance as well. I don’t know what it is about the cover of this book, but it was one of those that I just couldn’t stop admiring.
When I first started reading Fate of Flames, I couldn’t stop. I think it was after 3 in the morning when I finally had to put a bookmark in and go to sleep, and while I thought that the first part of the book was pretty good, the more it went on, I found myself re-reading the same few paragraphs and asking “what?” over and over again. To give the book some credit, I was incredibly tired when reading, so I decided to re-read those parts a little later, and while they still seemed kind of…”what?” worthy, they do get explained better in the rest of the book, and yes, it all adds up.
“Magic and monsters shrouded in mystery.”
In Fate of Flames, the world as we know it is completely different – there are huge Phantoms that roam the entire world, killing millions and creating an overall dangerous place to live. It’s scary, and in order to go about life, huge anti phantom devices had to be created to shield the cities, railways, roads, and even planes from getting attacked by these things. Also, there is a group called The Sect which works (mostly secretively) to protect the people from these beasts…and there are four girls called Effigies that take them out. They’ve got powers that are out of this world, and they try to save the day each time. Only, since it is a dangerous line of work, they tend to die often, replaced by a new girl who feels the calling and steps up to become the next effigy.
Enter Maia. Maia has always admired the effigies…she refers to herself as a fan-girl many times, and she follows their daily lives via social media, and is even part of the major forums with other fans around the world.
So when she is called upon to be the next fire Effigy, it comes as a bit of a shock. First, one of her heroes has died, and second, why her? She doesn’t think she is anything special. But as time goes on, and she comes to terms with the knowledge, she begins to accept it.
“That I was an Effigy, the next one after the famous and heroic Natalya Filipova – it wasn’t something that I had to realize. I just knew. The knowledge was just there, as calmly and surely as I knew my own name.”
But when phantoms enter the city one night and terrorize and kill many people while she is running away from her calling, she isn’t sure that running really is the best answer. A guy she meets at a party turns out to be Saul, a strange man who controls phantoms and is after Maia. While she tries to keep herself safe, another effigy, Belle, has to work to keep the whole city safe, and when they succeed in this battle, there are plenty more to go – so she and Belle have to work to round up the other two effigies and work together to figure out what’s really going on with Saul. Along the way, the girls will uncover some secrets about the Sect, and what really happened to Natalya.
I gave this book three stars, but I want to point out that those three and a half stars are not “meh” or unkind. I really did enjoy this book. I just wasn’t as completely enveloped by it as I had hoped to be. I didn’t connect much with Maia’s character, and seriously, this girl cried way too much. She constantly berated herself, saying she wasn’t good enough, like she wanted her powers to just be handed to her instead of going through training or actually working at making them happen. She was practically in denial throughout the whole book, comparing herself to Natalya and whining about how she would never be that good. And her obvious crush on the guy who was keeping an eye on her, Rhys, didn’t really add that much to the story.
After I got past that, the other characters were definitely interesting. I loved the flashbacks we got into Natalya’s memories – the whole thing about the Effigies retaining the previous Effigies’ memories was kind of cool, actually, and I really hope that is explored even more in the next book.
Saul’s character, and certain parts of him, were good for the story, but I guess for some reason I had hoped to get a more in-depth glimpse to certain aspects of his character (not saying what, for risk of spoilers, but I guess I just wanted to focus on him a bit more). Although the whole book was adding up to the battles with him, I feel like I didn’t get to know him enough.
If you like your fantasy novels action packed, Fate of Flames will not disappoint. There is constant action and battle scenes, and they’re really detailed and well done.
The anti-phantom technology and the way that the phantoms are described was interesting. You can tell the author put a lot of time and effort into that part of the story, and it really made the world come to life. Seeing how much work needed to be done to keep the citizens safe from the phantoms was incredible. It was definitely an original idea. I love when such creative touches are put in fantasy novels, because it really makes the whole story pop.
Will I continue on to read the next book in the series? Oh yes, most definitely! I’m already looking forward to the next one, and I can only wonder what kinds of treats will be in store in that installment.