Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Engelsfors Trilogy book I: The Circle by Sara B. Elfgren & Mats Strandberg

The first pick for my 2014 TBR Tackle is a whopper clocking in at 596 pages. But it was one I had to plan for this month because the sequel is hitting shelves on Jan 30.

Minoo, Linnéa, Rebecka, Vanessa, Anna-Karin, and Ida couldn't be more different from one another. They aren't friends and they don't hang out in the same circles, but when a fellow classmate commits suicide these six girls find themselves brought together by powers none of them understands. They are the Chosen Ones - tasked to fight a powerful evil.

This paranormal teen trilogy debuted in the US last May but was originally released back in 2011. The final installment just hit shelves in Sweden last November and there's reportedly a movie in the works due out this year.

Guys, I got the biggest reader hangover from The Circle! It's likely thanks to the fact that I already had Fire in house but couldn't dive right in - and if I'd had the choice that's exactly what I would have done. Believe it or not this tome moved along at a super rapid pace and in turning the final page I wanted nothing more than to continue with the story.

There's of course witches and magic, a big bad that needs to be defeated, and someone after the girls heads in this debut but there's so much more besides. Each of the girls is dealing with everyday teen life: social pressures, insecurity, family trouble, and guy trouble on top of just trying to make it day to day in high school. And the Chosen Ones are told from the get go that their high school is an evil place! That's a pretty hefty weight to put on the shoulders of a handful of tenth graders for sure.

The authors spend a great amount of time in developing each character, with the exception of Ida. I'm not sure what the purpose of this might be but I do have my guesses and I feel certain that we'll get more of her in the two subsequent books to come. At any rate, what the authors have done here is established a core set of characters that carry an intriguing story.

The particulars of Elfgren and Strandberg's built mythology for this series is fascinating. The girls each have a power based in one of six elements. They also have a book called The Book of Patterns, which holds the key to just about any question they may have... but only if they can learn to read it. And it soon becomes clear to the reader and the girls that no one has a clue about what they're to face. First off, they're told that there's meant to be just one Chosen One and instead they are six. Their guide has no memory and the Council that soon reveals themselves as the arm of law and order amongst witches is also in the dark as to how to deal with the group. Nevermind the fact that none of them has been schooled in the art of witchcraft at all!

I'm seriously fan girling all over this book. It hit all the high points for me: the character development is there as is a pretty excellent plot development and world building as well. The book stuck with me and I was seriously just dreading turning the final page if only because I knew I'd have to wait to move onto book two. I expect this means that finishing Fire will be absolute torture since I'm sure book three won't be out until 2015! But yes, that does means the book was an all around win for me.

And yes, it's translated so I owe a nod to Per Carlsson who has done a fantastic job on the translation. Anyone who reads translated fiction knows well that a bad translation can kill an otherwise great book. Carlsson's work here is exactly what you'd want it to be, seamless and seeming as though it's not been translated at all.

Rating: 5/5

The Circle is out in paperback now and Fire is due out this week. Be sure to check back here on Feb 3 for my review of Fire and a chance to win your own copy!


As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I'm trying to figure out how this series has completely escaped my notice. I will definitely have to ask the children's buyer at my bookstore to look in these and carry them!

Thanks for the review. I don't read many books of this genre, but when the urge strikes me, this sounds like a good one to start.

Becky LeJeune said...

It was so good, Emily! It very appropriately has a blurb from John Ajvide Lindqvist, which is perfect because it kind of feels like the kind of teen book we might see from him if he were to write one. Other blurbs are from Lev Grossman, Megan Abbott, and Elizabeth Hand - kind of some big names that I don't see blurb very often, which was another thing that made me curious about it in the first place.

April @ My Shelf Confessions said...

Just added to my wish list! I LOVE me some witches and this sounds like just my kind of book! I love school settings and the paranormal, esp witches or vampires, Vampire Academy being among my fav series of all time. So this sounds fabulous! I hadn't come across it anywhere else so glad I stumbled upon it here!