Imagine a world subject to attack by Phantoms - strange creatures that resemble the giant things that the Chitauri fly around on when they attack New York in "The Avengers." There are supposedly safe zones with techie defenses that prevent the Phantoms from appearing, but they sometimes fail. And all bets are off if you're outside the safe zones. Got that pictured clearly?
Now, imagine that there are defenders called Effigies. They happen to be teenage girls and there are only four at a time. Each one wields a different element; earth, air, fire, and water. When one Effigy dies, her powers are passed to a successor. The girls are trained and given tactical support by an international group called the Sect. Still pretty clear?
So, in this world, an Effigy has just died and her successor has not told anyone about her new powers. That is our protagonist, Maia. As the tale progresses, we come to see more of her world, learn a little of the history of the Phantom and Effigies, and start to have some serious doubts about whether the Sect is being honest. Imagine a group that literally has the fate of the world in their hands. Wouldn't the temptation be there to keep things from the public and maneuver for political power? Is that part of what is going on? And on top of that, the Effigies are hormonal teenage girls with all the problems that a normal teen has, plus having to battle monsters.
There are bits to appeal to lots of different types of readers. There is the urban fantasy with the monsters and the elemental powers. There is intrigue and possible conspiracy theory about the Sect, and the source of the Phantoms. There is girl power and cat fights, with Maia trying to learn how to use her powers and get to know the other Effigies. It could also be seen as a super heroine story, although they don't wear masks and capes.
For readers who enjoyed The Naturals by Jennifer Lynne Barnes, this has a similar feel. The new recruit, the jostling for pecking order in the group, the murky history and secrets. It also reminds me of the Hunter books by Mercedes Lackey.
Recommended for ages 12+.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.