Years ago, everything changed. Phantoms, massive beasts of nightmare, began terrorizing the world. At the same time four girls, the Effigies, appeared, each with the unique power to control a classical element. Since then, they have protected the world from the Phantoms. At the death of one Effigy, another is chosen, pulled from her normal life into the never-ending battle.
When Maia unexpectedly becomes the next Fire Effigy, she resists her new calling. A quiet girl with few friends and almost no family, she was much happier to admire the Effigies from afar. Never did she imagine having to master her ability to control fire, to protect innocent citizens from the Phantoms, or to try bringing together the other three Effigies.
But with the arrival of the mysterious Saul—a man who seems to be able to control the Phantoms using the same cosmic power previously only granted to four girls at a time—Maia and the other Effigies must learn to work together in a world where their celebrity is more important than their heroism.
But the secrets Saul has, and the power he possesses, might be more than even they can handle…
“Technically, this was what I’d always wanted, in a way… To fight like one of them. To save lives like one of them. And now I was one of them. An Effigy. Careful what you wish for, I guess.”
So my library was doing a “Blind Date with a Book” thing, and the description is what made me get this. I had no idea what the title was or anything because of course, it was wrapped up in brown packaging and only had bullet points as a summary. I took a chance, but I liked what I saw.
I definitely have to say that I’m so glad I read this book, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to get it as a blind date. To think that the author herself described this book as a mix of Sailor Moon and Pacific Rim made me want to devour it as quickly as possible. I could see those aspects of it for sure, but as I was reading it, I got more of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibe from it, and I’ll tell you why in a minute.
Basically the book is about Maia Finley, a Jamaican-American high school student who learns that she is the next Fire Effigy, one of four girls that are tasked with saving the world from the creatures only known as Phantoms. This wasn’t something that she knew she was going to do until this feeling came over her. It was then that she knew that the previous Fire Effigy, a Russian girl named Natalya Filipova, known to the entire world as the Matryoshka Princess, was dead. The Buffy reference comes into play here because once one Effigy dies, another girl is called to take her place. Just like a Slayer, when one dies, another one is called to battle evil. In this case, there are always four at a time, one for each of the elements (Avatar the Last Airbender, anyone?): Water, Fire, Earth, and Air. These girls must work together to stop the world from being destroyed, all while being followed and talked about by the media and other fans that dedicate entire forums to them.
Sounds pretty crazy, right?
One of the main things that I loved about this book was that the Effigies are usually from different parts of the world. They are never all from America, or all from Euope. It’s diverse, and I love that. I love reading about POCs in books, especially having them as main characters in books and not one-dimensional people just there to claim diversity. In this case, our two POCs are Maia Finley and Chae Rin Kim, who is Korean but grew up in Montreal. Chae Rin is the Earth Effigy, and it screams Toph all over to me, with her temper and sarcastic quips and all. Only difference is Chae Rin isn’t blind like Toph, but she is still really strong and has amazing control over her powers.
We also have Belle Rousseau, the longest standing Effigy after Natalya’s death, the Ice Effigy since most of her powers manifest into ice rather than water. She is as cold as her power, and it’s hard for any of the other girls to really get her to let her walls down. Natalya was her mentor, her sister in arms, and with her death, Belle takes it hard and shuts down completely. She’s the hardest of the four girls, and also the one that’s been hurt the most. Victoria “Lake” Soyinka, a British pop star trying to stay away from all the death and destruction to focus on her music career, has powers over the wind. Although she was scared to be an Effigy, to the point of flaking out of her training and resorting to the celebrity life, she was able to come together with the others and work together.
I adored this book so much. There were times where I would get extremely frustrated with Maia, especially since she didn’t seem to have any handle on her powers, and I just wanted her to be brave, but it didn’t deter me from enjoying this book. I get it. To have to follow in the footsteps of someone as formidable as Natalya, there’s no wonder that the pressure would be much to handle. Her powers seemed to manifest during times of emotional distress, basically when she wasn’t even aware of it. When she was scared, her powers came out. When she was in a fit of rage, her powers came out. But when she was concertrating, and I mean really concentrating, nothing would happen. This kind of reminds me of Aang when he was trying to master Earthbending. I know she will get it, and I know that she will be great, especially being a part of a team like the Effigies.
I can’t wait to read the second book, and I’m a little bummed that it’s only going to be a trilogy, but I’m also hoping that we get to explore more of the other Effigies backgrounds and what makes them tick. I believe the author did an amazing job of getting these girls to be three-dimensional. None of them were perfect, and that’s what made me appreciate them even more. I highly recommend this book.
Rated: 5/5 ★