Book Review: Circe by Madeline Miller
A Review of Circe
Written by Madeline Miller
Little, Brown and Company, 2018
Even if you think you already know the story of Circe — the mighty goddess, nymph, and witch of Greek mythology — Madeline Miller’s retelling brings Circe to life in a way you haven’t experienced before.
Miller must possess some of Circe’s magic because the story of this immortal goddess who falls in love with humanity is expertly woven and reads as if it flowed effortlessly from Miller’s fingertips. Circe’s story is gripping, tragic, and an intricate portrayal of womanhood in all its glory and grace, delicacy and strength.
Circe lives alone, banished by her father Helios the sun god, on the deserted island of Aiaia. Though she grew up surrounded by thousands of gods, demi-gods, and nymphs in her father’s palace, her life has always been solitary. As a young nymph who seemingly possessed none of her father’s powers, nor her mother’s beauty, she experienced rejection and loneliness from a young age, which led her to a fascination with mortals who she more closely resembled.
But Circe is not powerless. She discovers she has a gift for the forbidden pharmakeia — the art of using herbs and flowers to craft spells. She is a witch — perhaps the most powerful to walk the earth, for she possesses the ability to turn mortals and immortals into their true selves, no matter how beautiful or monstrous that true self is. When the gods learn of her power, she is banished to Aiaia for her crimes, and it is here her life begins anew.
Away from the prying eyes of the gods, she is able to strengthen her witchcraft, call wolves and lions to her side, and help mortals in distress who land upon her shores. Through Circe’s eyes we meet some of the greats of Greek mythology: Athena, Odysseus, Daedalus, the Minotaur, and more.
In Miller’s expert hands, it is as if Circe herself invited the reader to Aiaia and offered you a seat at her hearth, with wine in your hand and a tame lion at your feet. Circe’s story unfolds with warmth, heart, and suspense. I couldn’t put it down and will be revisiting it again and again.
This review originally appeared on NetGalley. I received a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for my honest review of this title.
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