A review: Circe – Madeline Miller

The follow up to the acclaimed 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction Winner, Circe was on my radar as soon as it was announced. And although it was released in 2018, I have only just gotten around to digging my claws into this read.

And now I’m questioning why on earth I waited so damn long?

41045102._SY475_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.

Many – myself included have raved on and on and on about just how good Song of Achilles is. I adored it wholeheartedly, which is definitely the reason I was so apprehensive about starting Circe.
What if I didn’t like it? What if the authors style had changed? What’s if I DNF’d it?

What if I just stopped worrying so damn much!? I loved this book just as much as Song of Achilles, just for very different reasons. Circe is very much similar to Song of Achilles, once again Madeline Miller’s writing is almost poetic. It has such a graceful flowed that I found myself completely caught up in her writing, to find that hours had passed by. She is definitely one of my favourite authors just based on writing style alone. 

Now, the reason I got so invested in this book is entirely down to our main character Circe. The daughter of Helios; the Sun God but the least bestowed upon of divinity of his children – Circe was always the outcast, the forgotten, the ignored. Spending centuries in her Fathers halls all but abandoned. And this is why I got so invested so quickly. 

Circe is someone to be invested in from the beginning, as we see her grow, develop, and understand her powers and most importantly, herself. It’s unequivocally one of my favourite character developments of recent reading. We get to live alongside Circe as she comes to grip with her witchcraft, relishing in her power and her compassion – seeing her wrestle with the highs and lows of immortality. Despite being part God, she truly goes through very human emotions – some very relatable and this is what draws us; the readers, in.
Circe if nothing else, reads just like a fictional biography, but in a far more poetic form. It reads like an epic although it is only 333 pages (UK paperback edition anyway) long. We grow with Circe, we cry with Circe, we love with Circe – we completely lose ourselves in this character. Whilst no, there isn’t some massive event, nor a truly epic love story, there is Circe and her life. And that is the whole point. 

“It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.”

This book was just so beautiful, it doesn’t need a wondrous magical adventure, nor a fairytale love story. Circe’s is a story steeped in the myths we know well, and the ones we don’t know much of at all, and it’s so interesting to see them explored this way, with such depth and care.
I would completely recommend this book. I adored it so. 

Have you read Song of Achilles or Circe? How did you find them – do you love them as I do, or did they not agree with you? 

One thought on “A review: Circe – Madeline Miller

  1. I read Circe earlier this year but haven’t had a chance to read Song of Archilles yet. I specifically enjoyed it as It was the first book I read for fun after my second year at Uni, where I studied the Odyssey (Circe appears in it as a mythical women who turns men to pigs and eat them). It was a great bridge between the Uni books I’d read for months and getting into the fasntasy books I liked to choose for fun. Glad you liked it too!

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