-SPOILER FREE REVIEW –
Title: The Circle (The Engelsfors Trilogy #1)
Author: Sara Bergmark Elfgren & Mats Strandberg
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release date: April 11th, 2011
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On a night after the apparent suicide of high school student Elias Malmgren, a blood-red moon fills the night sky. Minoo wakes up outside her house, still in her pajamas, and is drawn by an invisible force to an abandoned theme park on the outskirts of town. Soon five of her classmates–Vanessa, Linnea, Anna-Karin, Rebecka and Ida–arrive, compelled the same force. A mystical being takes over Ida’s body and tells them they are fated to fight an ancient evil that is hunting them. The park is a safe haven; the school, a place of danger. The six are wildly different and definitely not friends…but they are the Chosen Ones.
As the weeks pass, each girl discovers she has a unique magical ability. They begin exploring their powers, but they are not all firmly committed to their mission–to discover the truth about Elias’s death. Then a horrible tragedy strikes within the circle. Newly determined to fight the evil forces, they begin to learn magic from The Book of Patterns, an ancient work with a will of its own that reveals different things to different witches.
In this gripping first installment of the Engelsfors Trilogy, a parallel world emerges in which teenage dreams, insanely annoying parents, bullying, revenge, and love collide with flirtation, dangerous forces, and ancient magic. An international sensation with rights sold in 24 countries, The Circle is razor-sharp and remarkable from start to finish.
The Circle is an enjoyable easy read with a group of distinct main characters that happen to be Swedish teenage witches! Sadly, there isn’t much action or magic, but the little there is, I really liked. We spend a lot of time getting to know the lives of the girls and their growing relationship, which was very well done. I want to continue with the trilogy because I think there’s a lot of potential and the characters ended up captivating me.
I recently realized how much I enjoy books with different points of views. I think it can work wonders for character explorations and this is no exception. We get three main points of views, though there are more main characters than that. Since this book is about a group of witches that couldn’t be more different to one another having to come together to fight evil, it was really fun and also enlightening to read how one girl perceived the other, or what was happening in someone’s life when the others were struggling with different things. At first it was hard to distinguish between the girls, but as you read on, you start to see how they all have very unique personalities and knowing them was my favorite part of reading this. I liked how their weaknesses and strengths were very clearly exposed and how much they grow throughout this first novel. My favorite of all the girls was Vanessa.
Just as siblings don’t choose each other, the Chosen Ones haven’t either. And, like siblings, they have to learn to live with each other.
The themes were extremely varied. Of course there’s magic (each girl has a power), but sometimes I felt it was more about teenage issues than witches issues. I really enjoyed how all the themes were treated. We have friendship and relationships in general (with their families and with their partners), self-doubt, suicide, grief, eating disorders, trust, sex, drugs, and probably more that are not coming to mind right now. Despite having such heavy topics, they were addressed pretty gracefully and they never came off as too bleak or too graphic. Also, there was a hint to an LGBTQIA+ relationship, but I won’t spoil it.
She cannot take away their grief, but she can share it.
The plot was interesting because I wanted to know more about the characters, but as I said, a lot of magic was missing. Still, the bits we get are cool and darker than I expected and I can’t wait to discover more about it. I loved seeing the relationship between the girls develop and how they tackled the issues in their lives. I found the villain, among a few other things, very predictable and their motivations were a little confusing, but the way they attacked was the perfect amount of scary and dangerous. It all wrapped up quite nicely, which I appreciated.
Because that’s how things are in this stupid town. You’re only what everyone thinks you are.
As for the writing… Well, I’m on the fence about it. It was plain, hence easy to read. That made the pages fly by. There was a good balance between the descriptions, the dialogues and the inner monologues, but there was something missing. It lacked personality. Maybe it’s because it’s hard to come up with a cohesive writing style between two authors. Whenever the characters entered a room, instead of a description to bring the place to life it almost sounded like an inventory!
Overall, The Circle was an enjoyable read with great characters and complex themes and relationships. I will continue reading the trilogy, but I hope the lack of magic, the predictability and the writing style improves because I think it has a lot of potential!