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Fire by Sara Bergmark Elfgren and Mats Strandberg

Fire by Sara Bergmark Elfgren and Mats Strandberg
4.5
Book Name: Fire (Eld)
Author: Sara Bergmark Elfgren and Mats Strandberg
Publisher(s): The Overlook Press (US) Hammer (UK) Rabén & Sjögren (Sweden)
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Ebook
Genre(s): YA Urban Fantasy
Release Date: January 30, 2014 (US) June 20, 2013 (UK) 2012 (Sweden)

At the end of The Circle, the five surviving Chosen Ones had defeated Max, the (hot) new teacher who had been blessed by demons in their attempt to come to our world and destroy it. This wasn’t the last battle the Chosen Ones would have to face, but it was at least a step toward preventing the apocalypse, and anyone could forgive them for feeling like they deserved a chance to sit back, catch their breaths, and let the dust settle.

Unfortunately for the protagonists, but fortunately for the readers, they don’t get that chance. Not only are two of their number dead, one even before they knew what they were getting into, and not only are the demons planning yet another attack on Engelsfors that they will have to fight off, but the actions the girls took in the previous book have come back to haunt them. In particular, Anna-Karin’s use of her earth magic to make herself go from being the perpetually bullied girl to the most popular broke the laws set for witches by the Council, and representatives have been sent to see that justice is done. Anna-Karin is to be put on trial, and since she did knowingly break the Council’s laws, it could spell disaster for the Chosen Ones.

This isn’t the only trouble facing our heroines, however. Ida is distanced from her friends, since they’ve noticed her spending time with people like Minoo and Linnéa. Anna-Karin’s grandfather is in a hospital due to the barn burning down around him when Max tried to attack her. And Rebecka is still dead, with the people of Engelsfors assuming she killed herself by jumping off the roof of the school.

And, to make matters worse, Nicolaus is gone. He hasn’t vanished with no explanation; in fact, there’s a very reasonable explanation. While out for a walk, Anna-Karin stumbled across his grave. Despite his pleas for them to simply leave it be, the girls decide they have to dig it up, whereupon they discover it’s empty. Nicolaus, who has no memory of his life, is understandably troubled by this, and he wishes the girls the best of luck as he heads out on his own to figure out what he can of this mystery.

Whatever the girls must face, they will be entirely on their own.

Rebecka’s death in conjunction with Elias’s earlier that year has sparked a movement in the town. All over, people are wearing bright yellow shirts and associating themselves with a group called Positive Engelsfors, which is an attempt to clear away the negative energy that cause and has been intensified by the deaths. It is led by none other than Elias’s parents, much to the disgust of Linnéa, who thinks they could have done more for her friend while he was alive.

Naturally, this can only spell trouble.

The Chosen Ones are suspicious of the sudden new movement, especially since they all know how and why Elias and Rebecka really died. They can’t exactly go out and tell the town that, though, since no one would believe that two young people were killed by demons in the twenty-first century. They can only watch as a wave of new age style “positive thinking” (which is just as insidious and annoying as it sounds) spreads over their town and try to determine whether the demons might be behind it before it’s too late.

I’ve mentioned in other reviews that it’s easy for the second book in a trilogy to fall into the trap of becoming essentially flyover territory between the novelty of the first book and the exciting climax of the last, and I’m glad to say that Fire is not that sort of book at all. It tells a riveting story which feels like a natural continuation of the events of The Circle, and I loved every minute of reading it. It’s just as large as the previous book, but it has to be; there are multiple plotlines to juggle, from the overarching threads of Positive Engelsfors and the trial to smaller, more intimate stories. The growing bond between Vanessa and Linnéa, Gustav and Minoo trying to move past the death of Rebecka, Vanessa’s return to her old home… all of it has a place in the book, and nothing overwhelms anything else.

It may seem strange to compliment a novel’s pacing, especially when the characters are so wonderfully written, but I would like to take a moment to commend the authors for managing to handle so many plots at once without letting any get dull or seem cut off too soon. They transition from one to the next smoothly, drawing the reader along for an exciting journey in a battle against that most dangerous of modern enemies: cults of positivity.

For those of you who’ve read The Circle, you can rest assured that Fire is exactly what you’d want in a sequel. For those of you who haven’t, give both books a shot, and don’t be daunted by their size. They’re very quick reads, perfect for the very last bit of summer reading you want to do (or perfect to bring in on the first day of school to show off a thick Swedish novel).

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
Fire by Sara Bergmark Elfgren and Mats Strandberg, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
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