Circe by Madeline Miller
Published: April 10, 2018
Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)
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.
I’m wavering on this rating right now because I feel like a lot of my feelings were influenced by the fact that I wanted to love it as much as The Song of Achilles, which is one of my favorite books of all time.
Miller’s way of retelling myths is so engrossing the reader feels as if they are witnessing them first had. I loved Circe’s voice throughout, and her acknowledgment and depiction of her faults. The characterization of the main players in this book were so vivid that I felt they could be real people – or gods as it may be.
I feel a lot more of this book was a retelling than TSOA (there I go with the comparisons again). While a lot of filling in the gaps occurs with explanations for Circe’s actions and the years of lost childhood, these myths were all well-known to me. It was amazing to see them brought to life in a new way, but I found myself putting the book down not yearning to read on.
Overall, a very enjoyable read that I will definitely revisit in the future when I’m in the mood for a retelling.