Book Review

Circe by Madeline Miller

I came across this novel because my friend recommended it to me and I’m thrilled she did. Not only does the beautiful cover make a perfect addition to my bookshelves, but the novel is wonderfully written and made me fall in love with Greek mythology all over again. 

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love. 

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Despite reading a lot of Greek mythology as a child and knowing many of the tales, I had never heard of Circe, nor did I know how her story was interwoven with so many others that I did know (the Minotaur, for example). I was immediately drawn in by Circe and how different she was compared to everyone else in her life. I found myself rooting for her straight away because she was just so likeable. Miller does an excellent job of detailing the depth to Circe from the moment of her birth to the end of the novel. 

Even the characters you don’t want to like, such as her family and other gods and titans, you can’t help but get excited when they turn up, because of how Miller has crafted them. I especially loved Hermes randomly popping by Circe’s island after she had been banished. Speaking of her island, it was really interesting to see how Circe developed during her isolation. Despite being in isolation, there are several opportunities for Circe to interact with other people; there are several moments between characters that stand out to me in this novel and all for different reasons.

I really enjoyed the pacing of the novel especially as, as I said at the start, Circe’s story was not one I was familiar with. So, I really appreciated how Miller would weave Circe’s own stories of her meeting mortals etc, with other more well known Greek myths like Odysseus. The flow between them was really well done and it always felt like one whole story, rather than just hopping from tale to tale involving Circe. There was also a lyrical quality to Miller’s writing that just made it easy to fall in love with this novel. 

I could easily get carried away with talking about this book so I will stop before I start rambling. Overall, I absolutely loved this novel and it opened my eyes to how many stories, particularly those of women, that I have been missing out from Greek mythology, something I am determined to rectify. If you haven’t read this novel yet, I urge that you do!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

7 thoughts on “Circe by Madeline Miller”

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