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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 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.
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NB: These posts (if I end up doing more than one) are going to be more like rambling diary entries than actual reports. Sadly, since it has been four months, I don't actually remember a lot of what was said in the panels, and while some of my notes are understandable, some say, "Under the Sea, Gabe, Matt as back-up. Chuck, something w/alcohol. What If God Was One of Us." Which, WTF?? So, yes, these are iddy diary entries with my impressions and flailing, not reports.
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Thinking of all the delicious narrative potential here and how it's going to be wasted makes me want to cry.
ETA: I just got the following message on Tumblr:
Hi, could you maybe tag your anti John Winchester posts (like the one about Bela in the Bela talbot tag) with something, like anti john? thanks.
And just, wow. I understand not tagging character hate, and I even understand tagging "anti-characters" if it's a major part of a post, but tagging "anti" in regards to a solitary reference to abusive behavior that is canonical? Just, wow.
All I can say is, I just reblogged some really excellent meta on "Bad Boys" about how the bruises on Dean's arms were probably made by John, and I tagged it "John Winchester" because it's fucking meta, and meta = / = hate, and if you think I'm going to go out of my way to protect the poor woobie feelings of apologists who identify as "pro john" (as this person's blog says), you are sadly mistaken.
/End rant, which I did here because I'm not going to respond to this person, 30% because I believe in taking the high ground and 70% because I am actually too appalled to even begin to know how to respond.
Summary: A Knight of Hell is on the warpath. The Queen of Hell and a hunter seek the First Blade. The year is 3014.
Characters: Dean Winchester, Bela Talbot, OFC
Relationships: Bela/Dean (UST)
Additional Tags: Cain!Dean, Mark of Cain, References to Major Character Death, POV Original Female Character
Word Count: 13,215
1. Christine Baranski as fem!Cain in genderswapped!SPN Y/Y? WANT. My other S8/S9 gender swaps include:
-Tricia Helfer as Gadreel (originally I was going to make her Bartholomew, but he didn’t last long enough to deserve Helfer)
-Martha Plimpton as Metatron
-Alan Tudyk as Abaddon
-Eric Stoltz as Naomi
2. I actually really miss Bobby. I never thought I’d say that, but at least he wouldn’t be afraid to give Dean the kick in the ass he deserves.
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