The third installation of the Beartown series focuses on the locals’ experiences facing the aftermath of the events from the first novel. Without revealing too much, a small town in Sweden centered around the high school hockey team experiences a horrific tragedy that causes them to rethink their loyalty and sense of community. In The Winners, many of the old Beartown characters come back and experience more reckoning, heartbreak, and joy. Thus, The Winners probably should be read after the first two books in the Beartown series for it to make the most impact.
Frederik Backman has done an impressive job with the Beartown series. Generally, I find that authors who push past a successful standalone novel and create more series spinoffs lose their groove with the later books, but Backman consistently delivers meaningful, heartfelt tributes to the Beartown characters. The characters continue to develop in an impactful way, and the plot flows naturally without ever feeling forced. All in all, The Winners is a beautiful tribute to the characters we know and love.