gryfndor_godess: (Bela Talbot)
[personal profile] gryfndor_godess
Okay, technically it is now the 14th where I live, but it's still the 13th somewhere in the U.S., so we'll pretend that I'm posting on time:

Kelsey asked for a pimp/yelling-about-feelings post about the Engelsfors trilogy, and I am SO HAPPY TO OBLIGE.

Everything above the cut is a spoiler-free rec.  Below the cut are spoilery opinions.

If you’ve been following [livejournal.com profile] ellievanna on Tumblr for the past few years you’ve probably heard her flail about this trilogy before (that is where I heard about it) and for good reason.  Engelsfors is a Swedish YA fantasy trilogy written by Sara Elfgren and Mats Strandberg.  The books are The Circle, Fire, and The Key.  The first two are available in English, and the third is supposed to come out in February 2015 (I might have emailed the American publisher requesting the date because I was so desperate…).

The basic premise of the trilogy sounds a lot like BtVS: demons exist and want to terrorize the world and only the Chosen One can stop them.  However, in Engelsfors (which is the name of the town), there are actually seven chosen ones, and they all possess different powers (e.g., invisibility, mind-control, mind-reading, etc.).  The Chosen Ones also have a Giles-like Watcher, there’s an interfering, patriarchal Council, and high school represents everything evil, but that’s about where the similarities end, and I promise, nothing feels like a rip-off of BtVS.

Despite the similar premise, the trilogy is actually very creative and clever.  One of the things I love most about it is that in both books, I genuinely had little to no clue what was going to happen next.  A lot of American YA urban fantasy trilogies feel formulaic (girl discovers mysterious heritage and/or powers, mysterious asshole who sekritly has a heart of gold is sometimes helpful/sometimes a butt-munch, cue lots of smoldering and longing, oh wait LOVE TRIANGLE WITH THE LIFELONG LOYAL BESTIE, throw in a little plot at the end, etc.) (can you tell I’m cynical about YA urban fantasy), but there’s nothing formulaic about Engelsfors.  For being a fantasy series, there’s also a healthy dose of horror and contemporary realism (IDK if that’s the right term for it, but basically, dealing with real life issues like mental health, divorce, etc.).  The series blends genres seamlessly, organically integrating the girls’ magical problems with their non-magical problems so that the plot never feels bogged down.

Other great things:
+ The series deals very thoughtfully with mental health, depression, divorce, bullying, drinking, drugs, suicide, and LGBT issues.  The girls are around sixteen when the books start, and they feel like teenagers (and they get to cuss!  Go Sweden for not censoring!).  I’ve rarely seen American books address so many complications so holistically and respectfully.

+ The protags are far from perfect, and the narrative acknowledges it.  Arrogance has consequences!  Mistakes are not swept aside! The stakes are high and actually matter!

+ So!  Much!  Lady!  Love!  This book is ALL ABOUT WOMEN and female friendships (and more than friendship), and it’s just so lovely.  Plus, it’s about how these friendships develop, because the protags are all very different, and they clash a lot and have to learn how to work together and care about each other, and that is another thing you don’t frequently see in American YA- stories that focus on female friendship.  If you want stories about female friendship and empowerment, look no further than Englesfors.

Basically, I can’t say enough good things about this series, and if you like YA urban fantasy, I highly encourage you to read it.  Although, to be perfectly honest, I might recommend waiting until January 2015 so that you don’t have to suffer in wait for the third book like I am…  If you have any questions at all, please ask!  If this post convinces even one person to read the books, I will be absolutely delighted.

Spoilers Opinions:

+ I am very invested in Minoo/Gustaf.  If it is not endgame I’m going to be REALLY UPSET.

+ I’m still not over Rebecka.  NEVER OVER IT.

+ I really hope that Adriana gets her memories back and escapes the Council.

+ I love Vanessa’s devotion to Melvin.

+ If I had to choose amongst the girls, I’d say Minoo is my favorite because I identify with her the most as the goody-two-shoes nerdy nerd, but I love them all (well, I do not love Ida, but I am prepared to love her depending on what happens in book 3).

+ When Minoo defeated Max and saved Rebecka and Elias’s souls, I really hoped for a moment that they would be resurrected.  I’m sad that they weren’t, but I do admire the writers’ bravery in killing their darlings.  I never saw Rebecka’s death coming, and I didn’t see Ida’s either.

+ Speaking of Ida, I really enjoyed her growth in book 2 (although her obsession with Gustaf creeps me out), and I’m looking forward to her storyline in book 3 (although I hope the redemption-through-death trope is not overplayed).  And much as I appreciate the realism re: death, if book 3 did end with certain people coming back to life, I wouldn’t exactly be shedding tears…
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