Review: Circe by Madeline Miller


Genre: Adult Fiction, Fantasy

Subgenre: Retellings

Publisher: Little, Brown

Length: 393 pages

Date(s) Read: April 28, 2019 – April 30, 2019

Date Published: April 10, 2018

Goodreads Synopsis:

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. 

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Review:

This is, without a doubt, the best book I’ve read so far in 2019. I’m calling it now, I think this is it. If not my favorite book of 2019, it’s gonna be close.

Madeline Miller’s writing style has done it again. Even though there were parts of this book that I was bored enough to skim, I found myself so emotional at the end that I couldn’t give this less than 5-stars. It’s rare that I find an author whose writing style I both love and envy and am confused in the best way by (Like, how does she do that?) The Song of Achilles was by far my favorite book that I read in 2018, and now this. Now Circe.

Circe is portrayed in a way that makes her feel so real. She’s a goddess who hates her own divinity, and has been exiled by the other gods to live on Aeaea for the rest of eternity. I loved how it began with her compassion for Prometheus during his trial before the gods. I loved all the mythology intertwined throughout the novel. Madeline Miller’s love for Greek mythology really comes across in her writing, only an expert in the field could do it so well, of course. There were glimpses of this in The Song of Achilles, but she honestly shows this off much more in Circe.

She also has a way of writing emotions that makes me feel like I am the character. In Circe, I feel her heart aching for Glaucus, her jealousy of Scylla, her hopeless admiration for her brother, her anger at the men who come to Aeaea and try to take advantage of her, her fierce love and protectiveness for Telegonus, her quiet love for Telemachus. It’s all there on the page and, yet, the way that Madeline Miller shows Circe’s feelings through words brings the same feelings in me. This isn’t something most authors are capable of, and I cherish that she is.

The other characters come and go throughout the book, but none of them feel undeveloped. Odysseus feels like a fully formed character, not something untouchable. Penelope and Telemachus feel equally developed. The same can be said of Aeëtes, Pasiphaë, Hermes, and all the others.

I won’t spoil anything, but the ending of this book had me teared up, and it’s probably the perfect ending for this book. I can’t think of anyway it could have been done better. If you haven’t read Circe, please, do yourself a favor and read the heck out of it.

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