Review: Circe

Published April 14th 2020, 400 pages

Author: Madeline Miller

Overview from Goodreads:

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world. 

Personal Review

This author needs to just keep releasing books as I honestly can’t get enough!  Her other novel, The Song of Achilles, has easily become one of my top books ever and Circe is not far behind. I would give it a 4.99 if I could as it wasn’t quite perfect, but it was so close and that’s all you can wish for in a novel.  I honestly loved everything about this book and it’s only negative was it just was very slightly less of a piece of perfection than a Song of Achilles and as I read them less than a month from each other, it was hard not to make comparisons. (I should have given it a little more time between them, but I just couldn’t help myself as this author is amazing.)

Most people will be familiar with Circe though reading Homer’s the Odyssey. (That was my introduction when I read it back in my school days during our mythology portion of English class.) I found myself not being able to put the book down as it captivates the reader to want to be a part of Circe’s life.  Even though she is an immortal, she’s a very relatable character. She has her naïve moments, her trials and tribulations that affect who she becomes, a longing to be loved and accepted, and emotions that you sometimes are unable to control in the moment.

We start with a younger Circe at her home then follow her along as she begins her life on the island (Aeaea) that we’ve come to know.  Her father is the mighty sun god Helios who doesn’t seem to care much for Circe in favor of her brothers and sisters. This is given to the fact that she is seemingly without any special abilities (granted anyone that is familiar with this character knows that it changes, but it does start as seeming that she’s not gifted.) While many of the gods and goddesses we are familiar with play some sort of role in this novel, they are not the main focus as the infamous nymph turned witch, Circe, takes center stage.  

When Circe delves into witchcraft her family banishes her and this is when the adventures begin as Circe travels to find a place to belong. Throughout the novel, we interact with the familiar stories of Icarus, the Minotaur and, not to be left out, Odysseus. Her island starts as a prison where she’s alone with nothing around, but soon she discovers that it might be a hidden paradise. The descriptions of everything from the scenery to the characters are fantastic as you can imagine it all playing out in your head. 

One thing, of many, that the author does seamlessly is integrating characters naturally without making the reader feel that they are forced in the story and events take place just to make sure that the MC is at the right place at the right time. When Circe meets someone, it happens organically and flows well without taking away from the main story. Even the characters, such as the other gods/goddesses, never overshadowed Circe as you become so enthralled with her as a character that she is always in the forefront. I love Circe’s growth to become her own person and how she doesn’t let situations control her. She works to find the freedom she’s always dreamed of and to be accepted.

I cannot recommend this book enough and any and all works by this author as the writing is brilliant! I hope that she continues to write and more novels are released in the near future!!

7 thoughts on “Review: Circe

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