Book Bloggers Literary Prize 2012
Book Jury Price 2011
Great Reader's Prize 2011
Icelandic Book Sellers Award 2012
August Prize 2011
The Stockholm Prize 2011
QX Book of the Year 2011
The Circle (Cirkeln)
Sara B. Elfgren & Mats Strandberg
Engelsfors. Beautiful name, scrubby town. Surrounded by deep forests where people get lost and disappear. Six girls just started high school. They have nothing in common – except they are all hunted by an ancient evil.
The autumn semester has just started when a student is found dead in one of the school lavatories. Everyone suspects suicide. Everyone except the ones who know the truth. One night, when a mysterious red moon fills the sky, the girls meet in the park. They don’t know why or how they were brought there but they learn that they need each other in order to survive.
They are told that they are witches. An ancient prophecy states that they are The Chosen Ones. From this day on, high school is a matter of life and death, literally. They must learn how to work together despite their differences and they have to master the forces that have awakened within them. Time is running out. Something is hunting them and if they don’t find it and defeat it, it will find them.
A small industrial town becomes the arena for the final battle between good and evil. The Circle is 500 suspenseful pages filled with love, magic, nagging parents, homework, death and friendship. In this book the unforgettable tv-series My So Called Life and Buffy the Vampire Slayer meet in Twin Peaks.
Prepare yourself for an immense reading experience. When you close the book you will already be longing for the next two books in the series; Fire and The Key, planned for 2012 and 2013.
Belgium: A.W. Bruna
The Czech Republic: Fortuna Libri
The Faroe Islands: Bókadeildin Føroya Læraraferlags
Finland: Basam books
France: JC Lattes / Fleuve Editions
Germany: Cecilie Dressler Verlag
Israel: Sela Publishers
Italy: Salani Editore
Japan: East Press
Korea: Max Education
Latvia: Zvaigzne ABC Publishers
Lithuania: Nieko Rimto
The Netherlands: A.W. Bruna
Poland: Czarna Owca
Slovakia: Fortuna Libri
Sweden: Rabén & Sjögren
Thailand: Punica Publishing
UK: Random House
USA: The Overlook Press
RMV Film, Sweden
The six girls in THE CIRCLE are listed #3 on the "Top 10 feminist heroes in fiction" list.
http:// www.theguardian.com/ childrens-books-site/2016/ jan/14/ top-10-feminist-heroes-in-f iction
"The realistic setting added to the fantasy, the social novel in the thriller. The result is amazing, breathless and heady. "
Le Figaro magazine /FR
"This was the best book I read all year!"
Gustaf Norén, Mando Diao
"What sets this addictive novel apart is the lack of smouldering heroes, pace Twilight, and the emphasis on character development, with the supernatural elements taking a back seat. Rightly destined to be the next cult read."
The Sunday Telegraph / UK
"Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg created with The Circle a terrific first part in a trilogy between coming-of-age, thriller and dark fantasy. This fantastic story about a magic circle is fascinating, particularly because of the individual biographies of the cast. The characters are complex and authentic, the plot is gripping and conveying some social-criticism in a highly filmic way that let's almost 600 pages just entertain you."
"The Circle by Sara B Elfgren and Mats Strandberg (translated by Per Carlsson) reads like The Demon Headmaster set in a Swedish Twin Peaks with a nod to Stieg Larsson. The six high-school girls who take on the forces of evil with their new-found witches' powers are sub-Buffy specimens. Once gathered together after a 100-page-plus intro, the Chosen Ones acquit themselves like a losing team on The Apprentice until a second suspicious student suicide makes them up their game. It beats Big Brother, and it also has strong language throughout."
The Observer / UK
"This was a really promising start to the series and I am intrigued where the author will take the girls next. As a translation, I thought it was excellent, the writing flowed easily and I didn't feel I was missing anything. I adored the setting, I so rarely read books set in Sweden, so that made a refreshing change. This was definitely a brilliant book, that is well worth taking the time to invest in and read."
Serendipity Reviews / UK
"This is the first in a best-selling Swedish trilogy and it's one you will not want to miss out on."
Sugarscape / UK
"The other day I got the teenage novel The Circle in my hands. It’s the first part of a trilogy. All teen age books has to be a series – it enables the youngsters to identify themselves from one book to the other. And The Circle is about magic. Naturally. And about teenagers in a small town. “We have heard it before” I muttered to myself and started to read. And I was totally fu…ing blown away.
With The Circle these two authors, Mats Strandberg and Sara Bergmark Elfgren, step right into the rather solitary parnassus where the prime Swedish contemporary writers have their home. I have never read a novel for adults that so smoothly reconciles the literary temperaments as The Circle does. Many authors have indeed tried, but moralism has always made them trip on the goal line. I am full of admiration for this skillful, passionate and engaging craftsmanship. And as one says in situations like this: This is going to be BIG."
"The Circle is exciting from start to finish. The characters represent in an excellent manner every type of person and personality. The school environments and teenage everyday life is excellently portrayed. This is the first book in a trilogy - one can only rejoice in the future."
"The Circle makes a fantastic fantasy novel; the conditions are both thoughtful and well implemented. But what’s genius is that it also works extremely well as a story about teenage life and concerns. As the authors have so many different opinions to work with, the reader gets an insight into both the hopeless situation of being in love with a teacher, life in an apartment with an impossible stepfather and the inevitable effects of having been bullied from first grade in school. The book has a vivid gallery of characters, even beyond the six witches, and despite that the authors are working with so many different personalities; they manage to carve each of them out in detail, with strengths, dreams and failures. None of them is perfect, but they are all human. The Circle is one of the best teenage fantasy novels I have read in a long time, for it manages to maintain a constant level of tension and discomfort, as well as being a really nice and well-written novel about growing up and getting to know oneself, for better or worse."
Book magazine Arnold Busck, Denmark
"It is rare to read fantasy that is able to cover as many genres as this one does. Swedish author duo with a remarkable great fantasy debut."
"This book grabbed me from the start. A prophecy is to be fulfilled and the chosen ones will have to fight against evil. Who will die next? Can you trust anyone? Did their friends really commit suicide or is there something else behind? This new which thriller is filled with teenage dreams, flirts with the dangerous forces, insanely annoying parents, bullying, revenge, love, evil and black magic."
Albertslund’s library, Denmark
"The Circle switches effectively between suspense and youth novel without giving in to the simple, and the authors are skilled at making the story come to life. As a reader, you can see the scenes, well built by a frequent dialogue. Without noticing it at first, one becomes obsessed with finding out how it is all connected and how it comes together. The Circle is a book you will only down reluctantly."
"In a time when YA literature which takes their readers seriously is sadly rare, The Circle is a very welcome book. It delivers intelligent character portrayals of teenagers, combined with a gripping story where ancient magic meet Swedish small-town environment. Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg have composed a rare, life-like escapism."
"Genre consciously stylish and intelligent fantasy of a kind rarely seen outside the Anglo-Saxon world. Witches in a small Swedish town, prophecies, and sudden deaths are mixed with a razor-sharp and brutally honest portrayal of the vulnerability of teenage life."
"It is an impressive piece of unexpectedly realistic and sensitive design that emerges, and the grip to allow each reader to identify with different characters works well without feeling strange. The fact that the authors chose only girls in the lead roles is also a good strategy that separates their story from most others written for the same audience and it makes it more focused on group dynamics than on the classic heterosexual love. "
"With Mats Strandberg's and Sara Bergmark Elfgren’s The Circle the Swedish language has gotten its first big contribution to the Twilight and Vampire Diaries genre. And we can rejoice that we have come to a time when the The Circle’s oppressed girls with witchcraft can actually backfire and become the village's unspoken heroines - for in this genre, it is very seldom girls get the acclaim they deserve because all magic must be in secret. Still, several hundred years after the which burnings."
"Apart from the frames which come with the genre, nothing is predictable in this book."
"Let’s not call The Circle Sweden’s most talked-about young adult novel right now, but simply Sweden’s most famous book right now. And let us not compare it to Twilight – because there is no reason, except maybe the preliminary talk of a success. The Circle is commercially just right, but also much more than that."
"The authors have prepared a dish, in which every reader can identify. There are relationship dramas on high-level, intricate power games and forbidden love. But the social perspective, injustice and young people's vulnerability is not the book's subject. It is available as a background to the parallel world which is full of magical powers and holds an engagement on a steady high level."
"The Circle is a well-written, multi-layered Swedish youth novels with many pleasurable fright parts. As a reader, you long for the sequel even before you have finished the book. Finally, I would like to round off this tribute ceremony to highlight the language of the book. The Circle feels extremely well written and every word is exactly in the right place. The wording seems spot on and is sometimes quite poetic."
"The authors know how to write a really exciting story. The slightly eerie atmosphere quickly moves over to pure terror, when the witches realize that the whole world’s existence is threatened and that they are not safe. The Circle is a novel that surprises - again and again. I skip both dinner and sleeping in order to know how it goes. All up until the last pages. Then I read very slowly so it won’t end. "
"Magic is the dramatic momentum in this novel, which is almost immodestly gulping. The drama and the cliffhangers are bewitching and I am drawn into the excitement and by the tense atmosphere in the intrigue. But what impresses the most is the authors’ ability to not only give one, but six, nuanced portrays of young people in the sensitive border land between being a teenager and adulthood."
"I am sure there will be a movie made of this book. I have never been so sure. It has “Hollywood, here we come”, written all over the cover in invisible ink. /…/ The magic about The Circle is not the witchcraft, but how it depicts the art of learning to understand and accept other people. The movie could just reach just any heights."
"To be young and live in the most cruel of worlds; to constantly balance on the edge of rejection from both friends and oneself. That is so delicately handled in this book, that even a middle age person gets carried away. One is drawn into how the bullying victim uses magic to make herself popular; how the bully becomes the unpopular one. Through the fact that the girls dislike each other, they efficiently draw each other’s weaknesses out in the light; which at the end, benefit their cooperation. Because they do have to cooperate. It is this strength that makes the magic acceptable, which creates the suspense and makes the story stick long after the book is over. And that is what makes you eagerly wait for the next part."
"The Circle by Mats Strandberg and Sara Bergmark Elfgren is a scary and engaging read of the best kind. In their very own way, the authors manage to combine realism and fantasy, and evil blooms in a very convincing way, in the middle of an idyllic Swedish small town."
"The book takes the readers seriously and is skillfully implemented by the authors. The recognition hits the roof and the tension is consistently on top in this brilliant first part of an upcoming trilogy."
"I don’t know anything about the authors, but they complement each other in a very good way. They have great love for the genre and that shows in that there is so much joy in their creation. Skillfully and commercial at the same time. I have always wondered why all aliens and witches automatically get a Green Card in the USA. Now we know better – the true magic’s witches and trolls are from Sweden, from Engelsfors to be more exact."
"Immediately after closing the book I want to read it all over again. Lucky for me that it’s the first part of a trilogy, because I just have to meet Minoo, Linnéa, Vanessa, Anna-Karin and even Ida again. The book is so damn good that I will here and now, although it’s nine months left of the year, declare it the best teenage book of the year."
Bokboxen (The Swedish booksellsers blog)
"Like a Harry Potter or Vampire Diaries in Swedish small town surroundings, but darker."
"The Circle is a gift for those of us who love Buffy. It is impossible to put down and I cannot wait for 2012 when the sequel, Fire, is released."
Film trailer by RMV Film
Book trailer by Rabén & Sjögren