After reading The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and completely swooning over it, I decided that I must read Circe. Though I cannot say that I enjoyed Circe as much as The Song of Achilles, I can confirm this novel was equally lovely.
Circe by Madeline Miller
on April 10, 2018
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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.
Circe explores the story of the daughter of Helios, Titan and god of the sun. The witch-goddess is likely best known for her role in Odysseus’ story. She is the sorceress who lives alone on an island and turns men to beasts.
Miller’s take on Circe’s story manages to be imaginative and captivating while still maintaining the loose boundaries set by the ancient Greek myths. She takes the snippets that have been told of Circe and creates a multi-dimensional character who has the flaws of mortals and abilities of the gods.
As it was in The Song of Achilles, Miller’s writing is stunning in its simplicity. She uses few words yet evokes the world of Ancient Greek mythology without triteness. Reading her novels feels like indulging in dessert, over and over again. Every paragraph was constructed thoughtfully, every sentence polished.
The only drawback for Circe was that its pacing did slow, especially in the second half of the novel. While I enjoyed the story on the whole, I found myself skimming during parts. If it had maybe been 50 pages shorter, it would have been perfect.
If it weren’t for the pacing it would have been 5 stars.