Circe by Madeline Miller
Published: April 10th, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
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. With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love, and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.
*Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley, for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review*
“Most men do not know me for what I am.”
“Most men, in my experience, are fools,” he said.
When I was approved for Circe by Madeline Miller I was overjoyed. The Song of Achilles has become one of my favorite books of all time so, I had to see what else Miss Miller had up her sleeve. Let me tell you I was not disappointed in the slightest. Everything that I loved about TSOA was just as prominent here but different. I didn’t feel like I was reading a carbon copy but it was just as special. I will go into greater detail but her writing, world-building, characters, romance, plot, etc. were all done so meticulously. Nothing felt like a filler or just thrown into the book for haha’s sake. That is one of my favorite things about this author. Every detail is important and plays a bigger role later. I loved how unlike in TSOA we got to see more of the Greek gods in this one since they play a bigger role in Circe’s life then they did Patroclus and Achilles. Also, I just love that we got an Odessy retelling from Circe’s point of view. She was always a character I admired and felt was really miss understood so seeing how things played out from her ye you can really connect and sympathize with her. She is an extremely likable character with relatable personality traits like jealousy, sadness, loneliness, anger, happiness, flaws, etc. But, she is also likable because she is not like everyday people since she is Titan/god/witch with immense power and all those human-like traits but, the difference is she’s not insufferable like a lot of the other gods can be. Greek mythology is one of my favorite things in the world and Rick Riordan is my favorite re-teller when it comes to bringing a youthfulness to the stories but, Madeline Miller is my favorite when it comes to bringing the raw aspects of the stories to life through an unlikely point of view that most people won’t touch (i.e Patroclus and Circe; they were not the main people in Achille’s story or the Odessy but Miller used these underdogs to tell these epic tales.)
I could taste the venom in my mouth. It was pleasure to see him frightened at last. “You think that will stop me? You have never understood how strong I am.”
“The thought of this: that all my life had been murk and depths, but I was not a part of that dark water. I was a creature within it.”
Everything in the story is not 100% accurate but that is what I love about this book. It shows the time and research put into the book enough that she can write something accurate enough to be real and fabricated enough to make it twisted tale. Seeing Circe’s life from young to being a powerful witch on her island. I love how the author gave us the timeline of her life like in TSOA but again she didn’t make it drag she gave us every important detail no more and no less. The pace was really good and for a story that is so wonderfully crafted and not YA, it was super easy and fast to read.
“You can teach a viper to eat from your hands, but you cannot take away how much it likes to bite.”
Madeline Miller’s writing never ceases to amaze me. She doesn’t use a lot of dialogue yet I am always hooked and grasping onto every word that she put down. The world’s she builds on paper just come to life before my eyes and I drink them in. She is a magician and weaver of words. She crafted such a beautiful tale you would hardly believe this is her second novel.
She was gone. But I said it anyway, to that great empty room and my son’s dreaming ears: “You do not know what I can do.”
I really enjoyed the cast of characters and just like with her plot Miller does not write characters that are unimportant. Everyone is important in the life of Circe even minor characters. My favorites were Circe and her son Telegonus. Circe had such growth in her life and it was beautiful to see it unfold. She was a timid girl and let people walk all over her. Then she became this powerful witch even besting the likes of Athena. Telegonus was such a cute character and just a boy who wasn’t used to the world and its harshness but he learned quickly. I loved her sister Pasiphaë even though she was a terrible person I liked how she challenged Circe, I loved Daedalus, Odysseus, Hermes, Penelope, and Telemachus. Her father Helios, Zeus, her mother Perse, Glaucus, her brother Perses, and her other brother Aeetes can all choke, to be honest.
“Tell me,” I said, “how do you know that your father is not right about my poisons?…”
“I do not.”
“Yet you dare to stay?”
“I dare anything,” he said.
And that is how we became lovers.
This wasn’t as romance filled as TSOA but it wasn’t about that and I loved how Miller had it and showed her three interactions with her three great lovers (I refuse to add the trash bag Glaucus into this.) Hermes was her first and it wasn’t about love it was all for pleasure but I enjoyed their interaction a lot. Daedalus was her second and I think out of all three that was the most like love. It was short lived but he was kind and truly cared for her. Then we had Odysseus which stayed with her the longest. They had a true tender bond and she bore a child from him (he didn’t know) but he had a wife and son to return to. Glaucus didn’t share her body but, he was actually her true first in the sense of her heart. He was the one who broke her heart and in turn, her powers were born.