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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…

Date: 2014-09-14 11:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kwritten.livejournal.com
IT'S LIVE!

Yes to everything you have to say wrt: EVERYONE SHOULD READ THESE NOVELS. (esp everything)

For the spoilers:
+ I LOVE HOW THIS IS BEING DEVELOPED. I would be *so upset* if they were not endgame - but I also am LOOOOOOOVING the slow burn of their relationship. How much time they are taking to get to know each other, the way even their friendship has ups and downs and isn't perfect, the way they are LEARNING to trust each other. UGH. It breaks EVERY RULE of YALit and as such is the most flawlessly constructed relationship I've read in a while.

+ NEVER OVER IT. Rebecka was my one true love.

+ I basically want a trilogy preseries about Adriana's life. Can we? THIS IS WHAT FANDOM SHOULD BE DOING WHILE WE WAIT FOR BOOK THREE.

+ THIS. A million times this.

+ If I had to choose, it would be Linnea. There's something very quaint about the way the authors are portraying a character that could so easily got lost in a ~trope or become a caricature. Linnea always feels the most accessible to me. (Second is Vanessa and Linnea is only #1 because Rebecka is gone. REBECKA. MY BABY.)

+ I think resurrection would be totally dependent on what happens in the 3rd book - and it looks like whatever is happening to Ida once she dies, resurrection either (a) will only be possible for her or (b) is not actually possible at all within this context. However, if we could get Rebecka back, I WOULD NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.

+ Word. Ida has had some tremendous growth (aside from the Gustaf thing which is so creepy) and I can't wait to see what is happening to her on the other side (or whatev)

--- I was poking around for fandom and there isn't really anything in English. But I found a couple of playlists on 8tracks and one (might) have spoiled me a bit for the last book. Only so much that I'm 90% more anxious to get it in my hands!!!


Thank you for this post. Amen to everything.

Date: 2014-09-14 03:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gryfndor-godess.livejournal.com
\O/ I didn't think you'd get a chance to read the post while you were on vacation (which I hope is going fabulously!)- I'm so glad it worked for you!! Thank you for getting me to write about this!

EVERYONE SHOULD READ THESE NOVELS.

I don't usually feel so passionately about trying to ~convert ppl b/c different strokes for different folks, yanno, but this is one of those rare series where I just want to be like, please, please, please read. AFAIK not a ton of ppl in our corner of fandom read YA fantasy, but I feel like they would all like it so much anyway?? I wish Engelsfors had been around a few years ago at the height of Spuffy fandom, because I think the parallels with BtVS would have drawn people in.

I also am LOOOOOOOVING the slow burn of their relationship...they are LEARNING to trust each other.

THIS THIS THIS! Yes! Despite needing them to be endgame, I'm so pleased that they haven't actually gotten together yet because of course it would take time for them to trust each other and their feelings and to not feel like they were betraying Rebecka. Also, I really think Minoo needs to tell him the truth because otherwise the relationship wouldn't feel healthy.

I basically want a trilogy preseries about Adriana's life. Can we?

Ooooo yes, but I think I would prefer maybe just 1 prequel (b/c it's so tragic, and we know what happens), and then I'd want a sequel where we saw her reclaim her life and power from the Council and find happiness again.

Linnea always feels the most accessible to me.

I really loved getting her POV in book 2. I certainly didn't dislike her in book 1, but I didn't have any particular attachment to her either. I so want her to be happy!!

(aside from the Gustaf thing which is so creepy)

I feel bad for thinking that about her b/c of the whole society paints lovelorn girls as desperate and lovelorn boys as romantic, but if Ida were male I'd be all ALERT ALERT ALERT, CREEPER, sooo yeah, I feel sorry for Ida, but I really hope she gets over her crush...

I've stayed out of fandom (I get nervous just poking around the authors' website) because I so desperately do not want to be spoiled. Cause I seriously have no idea what's going to happen! Book 3 could go anywhere! It's AWESOME!

ETA: AAAAAAHHHHHH, I just checked Amazon, and there's an official release date now for The Key! February 5th! 145 days! Oh that's such a long time....
Edited Date: 2014-09-14 03:45 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-09-14 02:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellievanna.livejournal.com
*FLAILING*

YES I AGREE WITH EVERYTHING which I'm sure you knew, lol. I'm so so happy I've managed to spread the love, considering I've been a fan from before the first book got released.

I don't know if you know but the authors are major BtVS fans and they have admitted to getting inspiration from BtVS, but like you said it's definitely not a copy. (Also the authors are super nice, I met them once and I asked them why they chose to have so many female protagonists and they said it was because nobody else did. Which is what I've been thinking forever.)

SO MUCH LADY LOVE IT IS MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOKS.

I don't want to comment much on the spoilers since I know a bunch of spoilery things but I can't wait to hear your thoughts on the book!!

Date: 2014-09-14 03:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gryfndor-godess.livejournal.com
:DDD *flails with you* Thannnkkk you for introducing me to these books!

considering I've been a fan from before the first book got released.

From before? Were you already fans of the authors?

I'd seen on their website that they were fans of BtVS (I poked around the site a bit when I was desperately searching for a book 3 release date)! That's so cool that you met them! They seemed really nice from the little I saw on Tumblr (I've only seen a little b/c I'm trying to actively avoid fandom and spoilers until I read book 3).

THERE'S AN AMERICAN RELEASE DATE NOW!! AMAZON OFFICIALLY HAS A PAGE! AAAAAAAHHHHH FEBRUARY 5TH!! It's so far away... /O\

Date: 2014-09-20 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellievanna.livejournal.com
The book got some hype in Sweden before the release, so I looked at some interviews and realized that a) it was a book about a group of girls with magical powers which I've dreamed about forever and b) the authors were both major Buffy fans and mentioned it as an inspiration (iirc the two of them might have even bonded about loving BtVS so much). So I was pretty stoked from the start and it didn't disappoint.

I WILL BE COUNTING THE DAYS but it really feels like forever. :((( I know one of my friends already has it pre-ordered, lmao.

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