Book Review: Circe

“But gods are born of ichor and nectar, their excellences already bursting from their fingertips. So they find their fame by proving what they can mar: destroying cities, starting wars, breeding plagues and monsters. All that smoke and savor rising so delicately from our altars. It leaves only ash behind.”

– Circe by Madeline Miller

Being alive for Circe was the epitome of loneliness.  Over the course of my life I have read her story in several mythology classes, short and to the point, because there is not much to be said about her.  I am one who loves Greek/Roman mythology and the more I can get the better!  Madeline Miller does an excellent job of showcasing Circe’s story of foolishness, revenge, exile, and loneliness.

For those interested in Madeline Miller’s telling of this story, a little homework would be required so you don’t get lost.  She dives into Circe’s interactions with major and minor gods/goddesses, some of whom are not well known and will cause confusion to the average reader.  A cast of characters is listed in the back of the book, with their minor histories for general reference.  But if you are looking into more detailed histories of each character, I suggest reading Bulfinch’s Mythology (the leather bound edition is my recommendation for it’s heirloom and collector quality, however, you can always purchase it in more affordable bindings, or check your local library).

Miller writes very poetically and weaves a masterful story of a young woman (as young as an immortal goddess can be) foolishly blind to her family’s motives, and cast aside in exile over an act of revenge.  Youth is hard ya’ll.  Sometimes I don’t blame Circe for her actions (her family is awful folks), however, turning someone into a monster over unrequited love seems a bit harsh…but so are the gods and goddesses of the Greeks.

The prose itself is slower in pacing, much slower than what i typically like.  I can usually get through a book in a weekend easily, however, this book took me two weeks.  Miller’s writing structure is intricate with detailed flowery descriptions, capturing you in the world of the Greeks.  However, if you get lost easily in that type of writing then this is not the book for you.  Example:  my husband asked me how the book was coming and why it took me so long.  My response?  It’s a beast.  It’s not an easy read for sure. 

I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of classic literature, crossing into the fictional realm through her character arcs and plot.

“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.” – Madeline Miller

If you have read Circe, please leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of the book!  I will have a few more book reviews coming this week – be on the lookout for those.  Have a great week everyone!


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