Author: Madeline Miller
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company (April 10, 2018)
Hardcover, 393 pages
Fantasy, Adult Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mythology
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.
I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with this book, and certainly not to fall as hard as I did. I went through a mythology retellings phase, oh, 15 years ago or so, and I thought I was over it. I guess I was wrong! Madeline Miller manages to bring all of what I love about Greek mythology and transform it into such a powerful story about a woman who is so very different and unknowable, but somehow so very real and alive. I was so moved by Circe. I wanted to gather her into my arms and tell her everything will be okay, that she doesn’t need to be alone anymore. I wept with her when she learned of the fates of those she loved, raged with her when her kindness was betrayed again and again, my heart broke for her as she learned truth after harsh, unyielding truth.
Most of what I know about Circe is from reading The Odyssey when I was a teenager. I loved seeing some of the characters I was familiar with show up in this story, even though it was bittersweet knowing from reading Greek myths the fates that would befall them. I love the background and personalities Madeline Miller weaves for the various gods and heroes and mortal men; each and every one of them whole and entire and practically springing off the page.
When I started reading Circe, a friend said she has a copy of the companion novel, Song of Achilles, if I wanted to borrow it. “No thanks,” I said, only yesterday. Today I had to call her and ask if the offer was still on the table, because now I need it. That’s how great this book is.