“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. ”
-Synopsis taken from Goodreads
Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review!
“He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.”
Stars (Out of 10): 9.5/10 Stars
Favorite Character: Circe!
Spoiler Free: Madeline Miller has done it again! I don’t know how she manages to write so beautifully, but this book has been no exception to the trend. She manages to both retell the myths in an enticing way as well as connect it to modern times, and this was especially the case in Circe.
In comparison to Song of Achilles, the story covers a much broader span of time, and involves many more myths and powerful characters. The story is also less focused on one specific set of events, but rather covers so many that Circe’s growth throughout all of them is the true story. It almost feels like an anthology at points, lots of small tales and stories, just connected by a larger, overarching theme. However, even with this difference in plot, the emotion behind the story, and how much the ending affected me, was still in line with Song of Achilles.
The character of Circe was a very interesting one to explore. She didn’t seem to belong in any societal sphere, not fully belonging with mortals due to her immortality and not fully belonging with the gods due to her lack of “godliness” and power, and not fully belonging with the other nymphs due to her lack of beauty. She was the outcast in almost every situation, and her desperation to be accepted was one many could relate to. It also led to a very nice starting point for a novel about acceptance and growth, and seeing this change was almost more beautiful than the words it was written with.
Like I mentioned above, in terms of world and plot, the story seems to tie in a large variety of tales and myths. In almost all of these mini-retellings, Circe was always a minor player within them, making her mark gradually over time rather than through a single heroic tale. This led to the existence of a multi-faceted character with a very interesting history, a history which often came back into play over and over. It felt like a living and breathing entity, her history, and played a large role in shaping her actions and reactions, and I loved that.
I also love how, as Circe grows and learns to be more confident and accepting of who she is, the story seems to center more on her as well. Yes, she has always been the focus of the story, but not necessarily the focus of the events she acts within. As the story goes on, and Circe becomes more assertive, she also begins to assert her place within her story, and mythology as a whole. We start getting Circe-centered stories, and she flourishes within them.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book, from its writing to its character development, and cannot wait to see what Madeline Miller writes next!
Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!