*Warning: May contain spoilers for book one*
The Circle was one of my favourite debut books of last year, and I’m pleased to say that Fire by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg more than lived up to my expectations.
Taking place after the successful vanquishing of a demonic force, book two deals with the aftermath of using magic and the potential for punishment. After Anna-Karin used her suggestive powers for personal popularity gain even after the warning from Adriana, the mysterious Council are out to punish her for breaking their laws. The potential sentence for this misconduct is execution, with the Chosen Ones determined to save Anna-Karin from this fate. Even though she has sworn her allegiance to the Council, Adriana is also desperate to help the teens, despite the risks to her own safety.
Unexpectedly, their trusted guide, Nicolaus, departed from Engelsfors towards the beginning of the novel, and I wasn’t sure if he would return in this book, or if he will be making a welcome comeback in the conclusion of the trilogy. Nevertheless, this book does not suffer from his departure as Adriana more than fills the role of adult guidance and magic advisor. I was unsure how this storyline would play out, but Adriana was revealed to have her own reasons for doubting the Council and was just as determined to rise against them as the Chosen Ones.
This storyline with Anna-Karin’s Council trial was not the only one operating within the book, as the majority is spent dealing with the new threat from a self-help group calling itself ‘Positive Engelsfors’. PE is all about how you structure your outlook on life, claiming that if you think positively, everything you want will come your way. It is run by Helena and Krister Malmgren, the parents of murdered Elias from book one. At first, it seems to be Helena’s magnetic charisma that encourages the majority of the town to join the group, but the Chosen Ones are sceptical and can’t see what good the group is really doing for anyone.
With suspicions rising, the girls all have their own individual problems to deal with at the same time. Vanessa is beginning to see a different side to her fiancé, Wille, whilst Linnèa is struggling to cope with her attraction to Vanessa and to keep it a secret from the others. Anna-Karin is preoccupied with the impending trial, as well as having to visit her beloved granddad in his new care home and care for her depressed mother. Unlike the others, Minoo is still unsure as to what her powers are, worried that she could hurt someone, and depressed because of her parents continual arguing. Ida is the only one who seems content at the beginning, despite her denial of her magic and the connection to the others, but her popularity soon starts to crumble as those around her join Positive Engelsfors.
One of the things I love about this series is the multitude of storylines occurring simultaneously. As the books are all pretty lengthy, each character has the space to develop and grow in their own time and maintain a unique personality. It is often clear from the narrative style whose perspective we are observing before any names are given, as it easy to slip into each character and relate to their individual situations. There is something likeable about each Chosen One, with it being hard to choose a particular favourite.
I enjoyed the storyline about PE, as it demonstrated how an innocent-seeming group soon escalates into a cult, with it becoming a race against time to find out what or who is controlling them. It also formed a catalyst for the Chosen Ones to come together in public and for the whole school to turn against them. The power of their friendship definitely increases, and it was nice to see their united front against their enemies and their growing belief that they must stop the impending apocalypse before it is too late.
Their magical powers were expanded in this book too, and it was interesting to see how the authors have interpreted the elements. For example, Ida’s element is metal but she can also control electrical devices, and Vanessa’s is air but she can become invisible. All of their powers seem to mesh together like their personalities, and I liked how the uses of typical witch activities, like séances, were given a unique twist. I was left truly shocked by the ending, as I definitely hadn’t seen that particular twist coming and am intrigued as to how the Chosen Ones will cope with the aftermath. As with book one, there are some unanswered questions left hanging for book three, and I’m sure the conclusion will draw these together with the series’ unique style and flair. This is one of my most anticipated reads of the coming months.
Following on spectacularly from book one, this instalment in the Engelsfors series was just as exciting and shocking as the first. The young witches all face personal challenges which overlap with each other and realise that they are stronger together than they are apart. I really enjoyed the character development, although I was slightly unsure about the plot, especially as I hadn’t anticipated such a surprising conclusion. This book has set the stage for the conclusion of the trilogy, which I cannot wait to read.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- The Circle
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