Author: Madeline Miller
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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.
After reading The Song of Achilles and loving it, I have been excited to read Circe too. I really love Greek Mythology and Madeline Miller’s writing in The Song of Achilles was solid so I had high expectations with this book too. Miller’s writing is as smooth as a free-flowing river. Her prose is beautiful – almost poetic – and yet still easy to read.
Another thing I really liked about Miller’s writing is how she was able to transform a relatively unknown Greek Mythology character into the center of the story. We all know of Helios and Daedalus and Odysseus and the Minotaur… but we haven’t really heard of Circe much. I love how Miller was able to weave the tale of Circe with bits and pieces from other Greek Mythology stories. We get to see Circe’s journey from the ancient times living in the halls of Oceanus and meeting Prometheus to falling in love the first time and then her exile. Some may be dismayed by the slow pace but I liked it because it made me focus on the moment. And in every moment we just see another layer of Circe. And that’s one of the greatest strength of this book – the depth of the characters.
I have to say, though, that the ending surprised me. I had no idea how the story of Circe ends with the Greek Mythology but I did not expect how her story ends in this retelling. No spoilers but I feel like it was the best ending for her. Like The Song of Achilles, Miller has surprised me with this bittersweet ending.
Overall, Circe was a unique retelling and I really enjoyed reading this book. I highly recommend it to fans of Greek Mythology!