Circe – Madeline Miller

Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Retelling
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 393
Release Date: April 10, 2018

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 is a lyrical story that spans thousands of years of Greek mythology through the eyes of Circe, a banished witch.

Miller’s writing is lyrical, poetic, and beautiful throughout the novel. Each sentence flows beautifully into the next creating a spellbinding narrative that includes many gods and Greek heroes. I’d just like to take a moment to thank Rick Riordan for my knowledge of Greek mythology because without it I wouldn’t have enjoyed Circe as much as I did.

Circe reflects on mortal life, immortality, and the nature of man versus gods. Circe is a character study of Circe, the lesser god. Despite being a daughter of Helios she isn’t born with any special powers until she discovers witchcraft. She is then exiled to an island where she must choose between her life with the gods and a mortal life with humans.

I enjoyed Circe for the most part, however I found the pace to be on the slower side. Circe has long stretches between action sequences that I found difficult to get through. The beautiful poetic nature of Miller’s writing plays a part in my difficulty reading those sequences. Miller’s writing is captivating when the characters are conversing or when they’re doing things, however when the story slows down the lyrical writing style bogs down the pace.

I’m not sure if I’ll pick up The Song of Achilles since I’m sure I’ll have a similar reading experience with it as I did with Circe.

Overall, Circe is a beautiful read for those looking to immerse themselves in Greek mythology. I am slightly disappointed that Circe won the Goodreads Choice Awards for the fantasy category since I was rooting for other more hard-core fantasy novels, but that’s not to say Circe didn’t deserve the win.


Have you read Circe? What did you think?

2 thoughts on “Circe – Madeline Miller

  1. Despite all the glowing reviews I’ve seen for this one, I have been a bit skeptical that I would love it as much. Your review definitely reinforces that (not that I think I couldn’t enjoy it, just probably not with the same level of enthusasiam I’ve seen going around for it)

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