The-Circle-668x1024The Circle by Sara B. Elfgren & Mats Strandberg
(Engelsfors #1)
Hammer Books (June 2012)
Paperback, 596 pages
Horror, Young Adult

The Circle by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg is the first in a new series about Swedish teenagers who discover that they have magical powers.

Drama begins in the small town of Engelsfors when troubled student Elias Malmgren is found with his wrists slashed in a toilet cubicle of the high school. He has seemingly smashed the bathroom mirror and used a shard to cut himself, appearing to everyone that he has committed suicide. It is well-known that he had a lot of personal issues so suicide seems the logical cause, but there are a select few students who can’t accept that he had reached that point.

The book is cleverly told from the perspectives of six different girls, each of which are entirely different from each other and don’t mix in each other’s social circles. They are all aware of each other, but don’t realise they are connected until all are drawn to a fairground in the middle of the night, with their bodies moving there against their will.

It is here that their mysterious ‘guide’ Nicolaus reveals to them the nature of the powers that have been awakening within them, and that they are all the Chosen Ones. They must protect the world from an unknown threat, but Nicolaus isn’t quite sure what war is coming, as he can barely remember who he is. I have a feeling more will be revealed about his character in future books, as he wasn’t really focused on that much and I sometimes felt as though he was being used for plot convenience (e.g. handy adult with a car).

These six girls must find a way to work together, or each could be picked off, one by one. Their personalities inevitably clash, and it was really interesting to read how each girl develops over the course of the novel as they slowly grow closer together. I also liked how each girl is given their own perspective and so each takes an equal role in the book, with there being no single specific main character.

I won’t go into endless detail on each of the girls, but I will summarise each in a sentence or two:

  • Minoo – A highly intelligent girl who struggles to fit in. Her power is unclear for the majority of the novel as it doesn’t manifest itself in the same way as the others, leaving her unsure of her purpose.
  • Rebecka – Popular girlfriend of Gustaf, whom she is deeply in love with. She struggles with an eating disorder which she can’t bring herself to share with him, and takes it upon herself to try and bring the other girls together.
  • Anna-Karin – The girl who has been bullied by the popular kids and since faded into the background. She is paranoid all the time but develops the power to influence others to do whatever she likes, which she doesn’t use for the best purposes.
  • Vanessa – She is ignored at home as her mother always takes her stepdad’s side, and she frequently gets drunk with her layabout boyfriend. Her powers manifest in invisibility, which she must learn to control.
  • Linnèa – Best friend of the deceased Elias, who has a lot of personal issues and likes to keep to herself. She is an outsider, but is incredibly tough and sometimes differs in opinion to the other girls, demonstrating darker tendencies.
  • Ida – The school bitch who seems to care for no-one but herself and has often bullied the other girls. She has important visions and dreams of events that have happened or going to happen, with her insights proving vital to the group even if they don’t want her around.

From these descriptions it may seem that each character conforms to some kind of typical teenage stereotype, but it didn’t feel like that when I was reading the book as each character seemed to complement each other, especially when they all begin to pair off. Admittedly there were some elements to the book that had teenage qualities, but that was to be expected and didn’t really detract from the story.

I was surprised by how well this book worked considering its length and the number of characters it had to focus on, as each character has a lot of their own personal issues to overcome but it was surprisingly easy to empathize with each one. There was some shocking moments, with the ending being particularly unexpected as I really hadn’t expected what happened. Different characters are cast into suspicion throughout the book, with particular emphasis on headmistress Adriana, who isn’t all she appears. This leaves the reader unsure of who to trust and what secrets are left to uncover, with some unanswered questions to lead on to book two.

This book was a great read, especially as it questions all previous stereotypes of witches. Each girl’s power manifests in different ways and the threat they face is scary as it can invade their mind and make their body do things against their will. This tests their mental power as much as much as their physical strength, and when paired with their other dramas there was a lot to keep me interested in reading on. I found the idea of not being in control of your own thoughts and actions to be particularly scary, and this is what made the book really stand out for me as a horror story.

VERDICT:

This book was one of those that I just couldn’t put down, and despite its size I found it to be a really quick read. The characters were all so different and yet still fit together in their own way, and I was truly shocked by some of the events. I loved the fact that the book wasn’t too teenage despite taking place in a high school, as the characters have genuine problems to overcome with each trying to find their own way to cope with their powers. A great read, I’m really looking forward to book two!

RATING: 
SCARE FACTOR:

SARA B. ELFGREN & MATS STRANDBERG ONLINE
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BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER

  1. The Circle
  2. Fire

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Rebecca

A book-loving student, currently studying English at university, whose favourite genres vary from crime to paranormal to romance! Slightly obsessed about books, will extensively spend time making sure no spines or pages are creased before purchasing.

17 Comments


Gemma October 10, 2012 at 8:48 am

I have this book on my TBR mountain. Its just one of those books that I was drawn to. I have to push this further up in my list

Reply

Rebecca October 11, 2012 at 9:24 am

Thanks Gemma :D I know with your TBR mountain it might take you a while to get to it, but I hope you enjoy it :)

Reply

Ciska October 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm

I have this book high on my wish list. Good to see you enjoyed it.

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Rebecca October 11, 2012 at 9:25 am

I hope you enjoy it too :D

Reply

Carolyn October 10, 2012 at 7:00 pm

This does sound good. I wanted to read it but I was put off by the size of it, and you read so fast…

I love the cover too, very striking.

Reply

Rebecca October 11, 2012 at 9:27 am

Yes the cover is very distinctive :)
I hope you get a chance to read it too, don’t be put off by the size, it’s a quicker read than you think :)

Reply

Laura October 11, 2012 at 7:19 am

I agree this book has intrigued me too. I also love the cover, gorgeous. Great review :)

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Rebecca October 11, 2012 at 9:29 am

Thanks Laura :D it was a great book and interesting cover :)

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Micael October 11, 2012 at 8:50 am

As I am Swedish I have just finished reading the second book. It’s called “Eld”, which means “fire” and I have to say it’s at least as good as The Circle. Cool stuff, and I am looking forward to the third part, which is planned to be released in Swedish some time in 2013.

Reply

Rebecca October 11, 2012 at 9:30 am

Oh wow, I can’t wait to read book two, think it might be a while til the translation though! Hope you enjoy book 3! :D

Reply

Ashley Prince October 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Wow, that cover is gorgeous! I am going to have to get this book now. It sounds great. Thanks for the review.

Reply

Rebecca October 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Thank you so much :D

I hope you enjoy it, it is a great read :)

Reply

Becs October 11, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Wow, looks like another book I need to buy, FANTASTIC review and another book added to my wishlist. x

Reply

Rebecca October 18, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Thanks Becs! :) Hope you enjoy it, this sounds like your kind of book :)

Reply

Melanie October 12, 2012 at 8:46 pm

OH NO!!!!

Not another book I need to buy!! Stop writing such good reviews please

Reply

Rebecca October 18, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Thanks Melanie! :)

I can’t help it! When a good book comes my way I just have to share it! ;)

Reply

alic3 October 20, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I’ve read in Swedish and also the second book! I really love these books and can’t wait for the next one! :D

Reply

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