By Madeline Miller
BOTM Hardcover, 393 pages
2018, Little, Brown
Circe, the daughter of the Titan Helios and a nymph, was born with no apparent powers. She grows up, mocked by her mother and siblings and ignored by her father. It’s not until she falls in love with a mortal fisherman and desires to make him a god that she discovers what she truly is – a witch. After committing a crime, her powers are revealed to the other gods. Concerned about the trouble she might cause, mighty Zeus banishes her to a solitary island. There, Circe comes into her powers and rather than fade into obscurity, she draws the eyes of gods and men alike.
Yo, this book was excellent!
This was my first pick from Book of the Month (hit me up if you want a free book – I have a code, and, no, I’m not sponsored!) It wasn’t until it arrived and I logged it on LibraryThing that I realized I owned another book by Miller – Song of Achilles! Naturally, I’ve not read that, but I hope to soon. Miller’s writing is captivating and I loved how she wrote Circe’s character.
I really enjoy Greek (and Roman) mythology, but it tends to be a subject/genre I forget about. Like fairytales, myths can be sparse when it comes to character development and setting. I usually find myself wanting more details and Circe hits the spot.
Circe is stubbornly ignorant, determined and altogether too kind-hearted for her brethren. She’s scorned by her family for her “mortal” voice, which sounds shrill compared to the booming, commanding voices of the other gods. She doesn’t seek to scheme or gain power and most of her family looks down on her or flat-out ignores her. But when she meets a mortal on the beach, she finds companionship for the first time. It’s easy to see why she would fall in love, given how she was raised. Her refusal to see how things truly are persists throughout much of the novel, causing her grief – but I loved that. Yes, sometimes I wanted to smack her (not that I would, because she could spell me to smithereens), but it made her relatable…human even! Considering the book is told from her POV and centers around her life, I’m glad I found her an enjoyable character. I really cared for her.
Despite Circe’s banishment, we do get to see more than just her island. Familiar tales weave their way around her life, including Troy, the isle where the Minotaur lives (totally forget the name and I’m not looking it up, deal with it) and of course, the halls of Helios.
There’s a wide cast of characters too and they all felt so real! I loved seeing the gods and the myths fleshed out. I’m no pro when it comes to mythology, but it felt like Miller added realistic details to the old tales and stayed true to their roots. I don’t care how much she’s embellished; it’s clear she’s done research and is passionate about mythology.
If you like Greek mythology, character journeys, magic, romance, drama, feels and female leads then I highly recommend you pick up Circe! I, for one, can’t wait to read more of Miller’s work (it’s likely that I will, sadly, but that’s just because I’m terrible at sticking to TBRs.)