Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Heart of the Circle” as Want to Read:
The Heart of the Circle
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Heart of the Circle

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  292 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Sorcerers fight for the right to exist and fall in love, in this extraordinary alternate world fantasy thriller by award-winning Israeli author Keren Landsman.

Throughout human history there have always been sorcerers, once idolised and now exploited for their powers. In Israel, the Sons of Simeon, a group of religious extremists, persecute sorcerers while the governmen
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 13th 2019 by Angry Robot (first published 2018)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Heart of the Circle, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Heart of the Circle

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  292 ratings  ·  79 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Heart of the Circle
For me, this book was barely 2 stars. Written by an Israeli author and set in an alternate Tel Aviv, this "fantasy" describes a society where sorcerers (elementalists) and psychics (clairvoyants and empaths) march and demonstrate against the discrimination, segregation, violence, and other indignities they suffer daily as a minority group. In an interview, the author says the plot was inspired by the death of a 16-year-old in a Jerusalem Pride event.
The empath protagonist is romantically involv
K.J. Charles
Jul 22, 2020 marked it as pass
Shelves: dnf, fantasy
Tel Aviv set fantasy, not landing for me.
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
On my blog.

Rep: gay mc, gay li, bi side character

Galley provided by publisher

There is little as disappointing and annoying as loving the characters in a book you otherwise deeply dislike. Unfortunately, The Heart of the Circle was one of those books.

The whole plot centres around an allegory for oppression in a vaguely fantastical modern day. In this case, sorcerers (of which there are various kinds) are the ones oppressed. Why? It’s never really explained, we just have to go with it. Reed is
Lauren Stoolfire
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Heart of the Circle by Keren Landsman is a timely Israel-set urban fantasy novel in translation. I can't quite decide if I particularly enjoyed this one or not. What I did like about it is the magic. Otherwise though I wish we had a better sense of the world the story is set in and if I were more interested in the characters themselves.
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Reading Reality

In a kind of twisted way, The Heart of the Circle reminded me of American Magic in that they both feel like responses to the Statute of Secrecy in Harry Potter. In American Magic, the reveal of the secret of magic is treated like a weaponized virus or other standard spy-thriller macguffin.

But The Heart of the Circle, while also having aspects of a thriller, feels like it comes out of the urban fantasy tradition, and not just because it takes place in a majo
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mm, standalone
What a strangely compelling book this was. And when I say compelling I don't just mean your standard 'one more chapter whoops bedtime was three hours ago' kind of compelling. This book was like quicksand. When I first sent it to my kind I opened it just to check that it had worked, and the next thing I knew I was four chapters deep. I'd plan to read a chapter or two with lunch and lose an afternoon. I was late back from my lunch-break at work yesterday and, yes, there were missed bedtimes.

S.J. Higbee
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is set in Tel Aviv – Landsman is an Israeli author – and the different setting is just one of a range of aspects that sets this book apart. It is set in an alternate dystopian setting where magic-users around the world face a variety of measures designed to limit their freedom. In the US, they are forced to live in ghettos and while apparently Israeli society is more liberal, it doesn’t prevent many attacks on sorcerers, with most police turning a blind eye to such crimes. Reed is one ...more
Matthew Galloway
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am really hoping that more people hear about this one. It's an excellent alternate universe, present day where magical talents exist and are dealt with in various ways by each country. We mostly get to see Israel's way, and the conflicts within. There is a prejudicial divide between people with powers and those without, but also factions within each. The book's main conflict has to do with a group of sorcerers who believe that violence will bring about the future they want.

The characters we g
I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I closed this book just a few seconds ago as I type this, and my head is pounding about as hard as my heart is.

Heart of the Circle is a book I’ve been looking forward to for a long time – for at least a year. It was originally published in Israel, and was then translated into English for publication in the West, via Angry Robot,
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader.

The Heart of the Circle is a new adult SF/magical realism novel set in modern Tel-Aviv by Keren Landsman. Originally published in 2018, this English translation was published 13 Aug 2019 by Angry Robot. It's 400 pages and available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats.

The central themes of isolation, acceptance, love, diversity, racism, and betrayal are all present and accounted for. The world building was more or less nonexistent, it's Tel
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
The Heart of the Circle is a fantasy novel set in an alternate world version of Israel, where some people are born with the power of sorcery. These people are shunned and segregated from much of the rest of society.

The story centres around an empath, Reed, and his friends. There are attacks on sorcerors and they are being killed. Reed becomes involved in trying to find out who is behind these attacks, but he is also putting himself and his friends in danger.

I really like the concept of the alter
May 13, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 1.2/5

Review: Cover art by Illuminati.

Wow this was dumb. Think, “Gay soap opera myopically internalized with feeeeeelings”. Heck, there are no Warlocks, Warlocking around with magic and strife filled exchanges with moments of ennui. Just moody gay guys manipulating feeeeelings.

Reed is a whiney, love-addled warbiotch who goes on all these “marches” to protest something that is never adequately defined. My guess is to get equal sorcerer (read in gay) rights?? I am not sure and neither will
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Urban fantasy from an Israeli author. Interesting right there. Set in Tel Aviv, this has some Harry Potter influences. Just as HP has houses such as Slytherins, here different groups of people are also labeled according to their special magical gifts. Some person or some group is killing protesters causing grief and confusion. An overall uncertainty permeates friendships as well as agencies such as hospitals and police.

This centers around young people exploring friendships and new love relations
Oct 23, 2020 rated it liked it
I think the core of this book is about otherness and the struggle to be seen as valid. In this world sorcerers are a segregated class that has split into factions about the way in which they should demand their rights. I found Reed to be a relatable narrator and his group of friends were all interesting people. I enjoyed reading a story that takes place outside of the US and found that despite that thematically the story was still relatable to my frame of reference. Overall it was a quick read t ...more
thewoollygeek (tea, cake, crochet & books)
Unfortunately this book was for me, I found it quite dull and the world building seemed to be lacking, the characters were the only redeeming feature, but unfortunately not enough for me to enjoy this.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
Jul 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good worldbuilding. I would have probably liked to read a bit more of it instead of the characters' mildly tangled love lives. ...more
Kelly Spoer
Aug 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: oh-hell-no

ugh. Cover gets you! It's so cool!

But, idk, just boring. Read two chapters and was all ... blah.

not for me.
Jackie Kropp
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Social justice fantasy and I was here. for. it. A good read!
Narrative Muse
-- Sorcery, love, and friendship are at The Heart of the Circle --

The Heart of the Circle addresses inequality and the right to love in a magical modern-day Tel Aviv. Where sorcerers and “normies” are growing ever more divided, Keren Landsman (Broken Skies) explores her power as an author and brings magic into a familiar world -- and a familiar fight.

For me, The Heart of the Circle, despite its themes, was a relatively easy read. I would have loved to have seen more detail about the place in wh
My thanks to Angry Robot for an eARC via NetGalley of Keren Landsman’s ’The Heart of the Circle’ in exchange for an honest review.

Set in Israel, this is an urban fantasy in which sorcerers exist and are campaigning for equal rites. Meanwhile, a group of religious extremists, named the Sons of Simeon, are persecuting them while the government turns a blind eye. It’s narrator, Reed, is an empath who becomes their next target.

Although I was drawn by its premise and striking cover art, sadly this j
Jen Hoskins
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sff, queer-lit, romance
Keren Landsman’s The Heart of the Circle is set in a world like our own in which a fraction of the population are born sorcerers—people with extra abilities beyond the norm. Sorcerers are subdivided into elementalists and psychics—the former can control either air, water, fire or earth, and the latter are either empaths or seers. Empaths can feel and manipulate others’ emotions, while seers can see and manipulate possible futures.

The story takes place in present-day Tel Aviv, following Reed Katz
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, how often do you get good fantasy books that are set in Israel. Not very often let me tell you. That said, this will probably be translated to English at some point of 2019 so I'd add this to my "to-read" if I were you because Keren creates a fascinating new world of magic and elements, and hey, there's some very timely political commentary here that will resonate with many.

I loved to hear about how the enchanted community in the US is different than in Israel thrugh the characters of Omer a
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found reading this book was a very immersive experience. A proper Israeli urban fantasy that takes place in an alternative reality where magicians are a persecuted minority and a semi religious sect tries to eradicate them altogether while recruiting other magicians for this purpose. I loved the world building,and the friendship and camaraderie between the main group of characters. Plus there is also a budding love affair set against the escalating violence towards those who are considered abn ...more
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 2.0 of 5

The Sons of Simeon are religious extremists in Israel. Their focus is finding and persecuting sorcerers. This not exactly in line with government law, but the government tends to look the other way. When a demonstration ends with a brutal murder, the empath Reed becomes the next target for the extremist groups. Reed has sorcerer friends and 'normie' friends, all looking for ways to protect the unlikely target. But Reed is
Berni Phillips
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Students of history and those of us who are older remember the Civil Rights movements in America: people who are unfairly discriminated against marched in a call for their rights. Imagine an alternate earth where magic exists. A certain part of the population have gifts: precognition, empathy, fire creation, water, air, or earth manipulation. These people are hated and feared because they are different.

That's the set up for The Heart of the Circle. It's set in Tel Aviv and the sorcerors are sec
Reese Hogan
Mar 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved The Heart of the Circle. I’ve never seen a magic system done quite like this one; the best way I can think to describe it is reflecting the human experience more genuinely than most out there do. There are different branches of the sorcerers in society who work with the expected elements—earth, water, and fire—but the biggest emphases in the book are on the “moodies” and the “damuses.” The moodies, who work with emotions and include the main character Reed, can sense the emoti ...more
Aaron Culley
Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I found this book interesting, but a little disappointing. The worldbuilding was well done, and it was very interesting to read an urban fantasy story set in Israel. The fantasy elements were well described (although it wasn't until some time into the book that some of the types of people with special powers and the meaning of the terms used to describe them were explained).

One thing that was mystifying is that the U.S. was referred to as "The Confederacy," which was a bit disturbing, given the
Jo Ladzinski
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Listened to the audiobook

The Heart of the Circle is a contemporary speculative fiction about a version of the world where mages exist but are persecuted by a group of religious zealots called the Sons of Simeon.

The world-building in this book is scarce. There's a brief introduction to the different types of sorcerers, some elemental, others not, and how they relate to each other in this world where magic is normalized, but not necessarily accepted by all. At the same time, the world-building an
Mar 17, 2021 rated it liked it
Landsman's novel is a fun look into a fantastical Tel Aviv. The novel is full of fun, memorable characters in a world that is different in the most interesting ways. Landsman's world if full of amazing details and imaginative interpretations of how people relate to magic and its users. For instance, I enjoyed the secret signs each magic class had that were used to communicate.

As a community reels from the zealous attacks of anti-magic extremists, Reed, an empath, reengages with the local youth g
Gabrielle Mathieu
Visit the podcast with Keren on New Books Network in Fantasy and Adventure

Reed Katz is in many ways an ordinary guy. He shares an apartment in Tel Aviv with his best friend, Daphne, works in a coffee shop, crushes on Lee, a green-eyed man from abroad, and dreads family dinners with his nosy mother.

Yet when Reed gets on a bus he has to stand in the white marked section, and he loses his job when the coffee shop gets bombed because of “people like him.” Not only is Reed
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Imaginary Corpse
  • Imaginary Numbers (InCryptid, #9)
  • הקבוע היחידי
  • Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction
  • ארץ עיר ילדה
  • The Rush's Edge
  • The Deathless Girls
  • Nine Hundred Grandmothers
  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
  • Our War: A Novel
  • The Resurrectionist of Caligo
  • Sisters of the Vast Black
  • The End and Other Beginnings: Stories from the Future
  • Dying with Her Cheer Pants On
  • New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color
  • בקרוב תתחילו להזיע
  • The Jesus Incident (The Pandora Sequence, #1)
  • The Never Tilting World (The Never Tilting World, #1)
See similar books…

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
33 likes · 10 comments