Series: The Engelfors Trilogy #1
Genres: YA Paranormal Romance
Published by Overlook on May 2, 2013
Reviewed by: Chris
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.
When I was first asked if I wanted to review THE CIRCLE my first thought was whether or not is a based on the TV show THE SECRET CIRCLE. Thanks to Google I found out that it was most definitely not based on the TV show - which was apparently based on a different series of books. Oops. THE CIRCLE sure shares a lot in common with THE SECRET CIRCLE (or at least with the few episodes of the show I've seen), but it stands well enough on its own.
THE CIRCLE revolves around seven high schoolers who are chosen to protect the Swedish town of Engelfors from evil forces. The evil started with some bodiless demons and only gets worse for the group from there. As the story progresses each of the girls develop (or are granted) various powers that help them in this fight.
Sounds like a ton of other books you've read before, right? And, honestly, it is. There's not a whole lot of originality in the plot of THE CIRCLE. What makes this book stand out a bit from the rest of the pack are the characters. These girls are all different and the complexities of their relationships kept me turning the pages long after I'd lost interest in the "main" plot line. You've got family issues, emotional blackmail, rivalries, regretted sexual entanglements and a whole lot more. I swear this book isn't as soap operaish as that last sentence made it sound. The authors did an excellent job with dialog and fleshing out the individual girls - which made the lazy paranormal plot all the more irritating.
While I applaud the authors' willingness to kill off any character it often felt like the decision was done solely to shock. Plus watching them call in the calvary of adult witches to explain everything at the end caused some considerable eye-rolling on my part.
As THE CIRCLE is the first in a series it did lay just enough groundwork that I'm curious to see where it goes next. If the authors focus as much on the plot as they do on the characterization in book two this could turn in to an excellent YA series.
- The Circle
The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith