Author: Madeline Miller
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing, out now
Summary: From Goodreads
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 has been my most anticipated read in a very long time and from the moment I heard about it. I loved Song of Achilles (Miller’s first novel) when I read it a few years ago and I have been eagerly awaiting her next book and hoping it would continue with the theme of Greek Mythology, which it has. Circe more than lived up to my high expectations and yet was still unique and surprising. Madeline Miller is a phenomenal writer, just as in Song of Achilles her prose is poetic and lyrical which works so beautifully in the realm of Greek Gods. The thing that is so special about this author’s writing is that she manages to make it both totally suit the descriptive and complex language of mythology and still keep it completely accessible for her readers.
Circe herself is a great character to follow, she is likeable pretty quickly but still keeps an air of mystery about her. Most readers will know at least a little about famous Greek Gods and Goddesses but Miller brings them completely and wholly to life and gives them personalities and weaknesses along with their more famous qualities. Because of the immortal nature of Greek Gods and Titans, there is such breadth and scope when telling their stories. It is like getting twenty tales in one and the plot covers centuries throughout the book which gives it a real immensity and power. Circe’s story covers so many different areas of life. It is about power, family, motherhood, confidence, pride, conflict and love all at once. I love that Miller doesn’t choose the most obviously strong and dangerous Gods to focus on and instead chose a less well known character who is more of an underdog in the Godly world of ultimate power. Circe may not be the most outwardly powerful Goddess but she has an inner strength and resilience that slowly begins to emerge throughout the book.
This book has had so much praise and has received many glowing reviews and I believe it deserves every single one of them. It is beautifully written, every sentence contains so much intelligence and deeper meaning. Furthermore, despite this being a story of immortality and the kingdom of Gods, it is in reality an incredibly human story which anyone will be able to empathise with and understand. I really have nothing bad to say about Circe, it was an immense pleasure to read.