Book Review: Circe by Madeline Miller


Title – Circe

Author – Madeline Miller 

Publication – 10th, April 2018.

Publisher – Little, Brown and Company

Genre – Historical, Mythology Retelling & Fantasy Fiction

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Circe has been an anticipated read for me ever since I finished reading Song of Achilles and I am happy to report that this tale was equally as captivating, even more so because of how Circe grew and became fiercer with each passing page.

I first got introduced to the Greek mythology in primary five, there I learnt about the gods, titans, Odysseus etc. and Odysseus story won’t be complete without Circe, who I knew as the evil goddess who turned men into pigs, then it had been scary but now I find it very fitting and symbolic, what I didn’t know was her reason for doing so or I never thought about why she would be evil, but this very vivid tale by Madeline has made me ask questions and wonder what made her the way she was, but I would like to say, I’m sticking to Madeline’s version of events.

From the moment she was born Circe knew there was something different about her, she was soft compared to the rest of the immortal beings she was surrounded by, she was kind and wanted more out of her life, but being the daughter of the great titan Helios, god of the Sun, she knew she couldn’t afford to be whimsical, but when her first encounter with love turns bitter, she throws caution to the wind and is sent away from home.

On the island she now comes home, she masters her sorcery craft, and befriends all the animals on her island, from there visitors after visitors arrive, until the first batch of unruly men came and she turns them into pigs, and so the great madness goes on, until Odysseus.

Circe has many encounters with her various family members who treated her like she was beneath them, but really she’s more powerful than them all because of that shred of decency and how she doesn’t take pride from being immortal.

Circe falls in love and fights fiercely for what she loves, always tries to right her wrongs and ultimately finds peace, which is really what anyone goddess or not, wants in life.

This is a non to spoiler version of the story I’ve been very vague, so all the twists and turns won’t be revealed but covered. I especially loved reading about Circe and watching her grow and take on various gods and come out triumph, her tale is one of hope and resilience, which is a lesson I will always take with me, never back down in the face of adversity people!

Madeline is a master storyteller, she knows how to weave her words which are so plain and simple to understand in a way that’s beautiful, lyrical and magical to read. Her way of painting characters and explaining them to us is also marvellous, at times I felt like I was there with them seeing through Circe eyes because her imagery was spot on. I can’t wait for Madeline’s next book and to know who we’ll be exploring in history.

You should pick up both of Madeline’s books if you haven’t already, it’s a refreshing and pleasant way to revisit the mythical stories of the Greek gods.


Lara Kareem

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One thought on “Book Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

  1. This book has been on my list for a while. I’ve not read any of her books but I hear so much praise for them. Great review. I’m also curious to know why Circe was evil in Odysseus tale. I watched the movie adaptation as a kid and I remember that she was played by a black woman. I’m looking forward to reading Madeline’s books.


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