Author: Madeline Miller
Rating: 4.5/5 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.
There is something so exceptionally soft and gentle about the writing, from the way Circe treats plants and humans and animals and gods and goddesses alike with utter kindness. She only ever expects kindness in return, but when she is constantly met with mockery, degradation, and eventually exile, that’s when the writing becomes more fiery. The softness and gentleness that embodies Circe is still there, but it is coupled with fierceness and power. The writing perfectly represents the heroine Circe as she transforms from a little flower bud to a rose with thorns. It is beautiful and magical in its own way. The plot is very character-driven, and only follows Circe as she shapes herself, forms relationships, struggle with betrayal, and finally finds her own voice. We go through epic journeys with her as she tricks monsters, tames them, and hones her power and witchcraft. She realises the fear that her powers induce on other people and relishes in it. However, she loses herself in the process and has to find her way back.
The book started out a little slow at first though. I always have to adjust to Madeline Miller’s lyrical prose, and I always find myself putting the book down every so often to reach for lighter reads instead. But once I started getting into the rhythm of Circe’s story, I was flying through it. The moment I started rooting for Circe was when the story picked up for me. Circe is always being put in the most difficult situations, so I was hungry to know if she would succeed in the end. There’s also a type of bluntness and clarity in the writing that makes it so believable. I like that there was no flowery language to make the writing and story beautiful. The characterisation itself does the job.
I will leave the review at that 🙂 If you are remotely interested in Greek myths, the author, or even Circe herself, please pick up this book. It’s not necessarily a story that you will get through in one siting, but it is one worth pacing yourself out for ❤ It is empowering and magical, and I’ve never read anything like it before. With that, I will end this review with my one favorite quotes out of the whole book:
“I was drunk, as the wine and nectar in my father’s halls had never made me. No wonder I have been so slow, I thought. All this while, I have been a weaver without a wool, a ship without a sea. Yet not look where I sail.”