The Circle (Hammer) - By Elfgren, Sara B.,Strandberg, Mats

Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg first met in 2008. They quickly realized that they shared a passion for stories with young adults in the lead roles, and soon the idea to write a book together was born. The story took shape and when the idea came up to make the main characters young girls who are also witches, everything fell into place. The Circle, the first part in The Engelsfors Trilogy, was released in April 2011. Part two and three, Fire and The Key, will be published in 2013 and 2014.

Sara B. Elfgren started her career in the film industry as a screenwriter. As a script doctor, she has been involved in several Swedish film and TV productions. She has a Master’s Degree in Film Studies.

Mats Strandberg is an author and a journalist. He is a regular columnist for Sweden’s biggest evening newspaper Aftonbladet, and in 2004 the organization Sveriges Tidskrifter (Sweden’s Newspapers and Magazines) awarded him the title Columnist of the Year. Mats has previously released three books, of which the third one, Half Lifes was awarded Book of the Year 2009 by QX.

This book is dedicated to our teenage selves.


SHE’S WAITING FOR an answer but Elias doesn’t know what to say. No answer would satisfy her. Instead he stares at his hands. They are so pale that he can see every vein in the harsh fluorescent lighting.


How can she stand working in this pathetic little room with her binders, potted plants and that view over the school car park? How can she stand herself?

‘Can you explain to me what’s going on in your head?’ she repeats.

Elias raises his head and looks at the principal. Of course she can stand herself. People like her have no problem fitting into this world. They always behave in a normal, predictable way. Above all, they’re convinced that they have the solution to all problems. Solution number one: fit in and follow the rules. As principal, Adriana Lopez is queen of a world founded on that philosophy.

‘I’m very concerned about this situation,’ she says, but Elias notices that she’s actually angry. That he can’t just get a grip on himself. ‘We’re barely three weeks into the term, and you’ve already missed fifty per cent of your classes. I’m bringing this up with you now because I don’t want you to lose your footing completely.’

Elias thinks about Linnéa. It usually helps, but now all he remembers is how they shouted at each other last night. It hurts him to think of her tears. He couldn’t comfort her, since he had caused them. Maybe she hates him now.

Linnéa is the one who keeps the darkness away. The one who stops him choosing other escape routes, the razor that gives him brief control of his anguish, the smoking that helps him forget it. But yesterday he couldn’t cope, and Linnéa noticed, of course. And now maybe she hates him.

‘Things are different in year ten,’ the queen continues. ‘You have more freedom, but with that freedom comes responsibility. No one is going to hold your hand. It’s up to you what you do with the rest of your life. This is where it’s all decided. Your entire future. Do you really want to throw it away?’

Elias almost bursts out laughing. Does she really believe that crap? He’s not a person to her, just another student who’s ‘gone a little astray’. It’s impossible that he could have problems that can’t be explained away by ‘puberty’ or ‘hormones’ and resolved with ‘firm rules’ and ‘clear boundaries’.

‘There’s the University Aptitude Test, isn’t there?’ It just slipped out.

The principal’s mouth becomes a thin line. ‘Even the University Aptitude Test requires good study habits.’

Elias sighs. This meeting had already gone on too long. ‘I know,’ he says without meeting her gaze. ‘I really don’t want to mess this up. I had intended year eleven to be a new start for me, but it was more difficult than I thought … and I’m already so far behind the others. But I’ll get through it.’

The principal looks surprised. Then a smile spreads across her face, the first natural smile of the whole meeting. Elias has said exactly what she wanted to hear.

‘Good,’ she says. ‘You’ll see that, once you decide to apply yourself, things will go smoothly.’

She leans forward, plucks a strand of hair from Elias’s black shirt and twiddles it between her fingers. It glints in the sun, which is shining through the windows, a little lighter at the root, where his natural