Author: Madeline Miller
Published: 1st of April 2019 – Bloomsbury Publishing
Format: Paperback – 336 pages
“I thought: I cannot bear this world a moment longer. Then, child, make another.” – Circe
Hello Hello! How are you?
I’ve been travelling back to France since early on Saturday morning and I haven’t posted anything over the weekend, so I thought today would be a perfect day for my very long-awaited review of Circe by Madeline Miller to go up! I should be home tonight and I’m probably going to sleep for a whole day aha!
Noly and I finally read Circe in April for #AprilCatchUp, the 8th round of the Hype-A-Thon Readathon. We’ve had it on our radar for a while and I’m so glad we got to read it in April, even though it took us a really long time to finish. Keep reading for my thoughts on this book and head over to Noly’s review to read what she thought!
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 by Madeline Miller is sort of a lot of things, and I would say that it’s a mix of historical fiction, mythological retelling and fantasy. It’s a really complex and detailed book, with a very flowery and whimsical writing style that can seem very heavy at times, but also very beautiful.
I don’t think that my usual “setting, character, theme” structure would do this book justice, so I’ll just give you all my thoughts as they come and I’m sorry if it doesn’t make much sense aha!
In this book, we follow Circe, the daughter of Helios from her childhood, I think somewhere around the time after the war between the Titans and the Olympians. We follow this nymph for centuries and see her living through various events and experiences. I have to say that it did take me a rather long time to get into the story properly because of the type of writing being very whimsical and detailed, but also rather old-fashioned. It’s really hard for me to actually write my thoughts on this one because it took a lot of time to get through and there was just so much to this book that my brain was a bit lost for a while aha!
What I can say is that the depiction of Circe was so well executed and I absolutely loved the author’s style. It was a bit hard to follow because this story is set over multiple centuries and Circe doesn’t age like a human, so there are a lot of events that happen to her and she gains a lot of knowledge through her experiences and encounters with various other characters.
This book has so much going on, so much information and names and places that it’s really quite a lot to process, but it was never sort of info-dumpy, it was more just *brain exploding*, a lot, basically. I think the problem with this book is that it spans such a long time, and it’s not a very big book in itself, but it’s definitely the type of book that you have to concentrate fully to read. Even though we both found it super complex and arduous, we immediately appreciated the beauty of the writing style and structure, but also the beauty of what it was about. It’s not often that you get the chance to read about a god or goddess in this way, and it’s just so unique that you can’t help but appreciate what it is. Among all the detail, the story actually came across as effortless and almost like a living being and it was such an incredible reading experience and we had so much to say about it.
Madeline Miller did such a wonderful job of showing Circe through the centuries, depicting her as she evolved, never as a monster but as a human being, a divine one at that, but still a human being like any other. She is a goddess but still relatable in the fact that she feels what we do: sadness, loss, desperation, rage, love, and this is the story of all of her years on earth along with all of these feelings through her different experiences. I absolutely adored reading all about her, not only her experiences, relationships and people she meets along the way, but mostly her and her feelings, and this book shows that even powerful beings such as Circe have feelings and emotions.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
I did really love reading this book, it was really arduous and long, but it was so beautiful, whimsical and original that it didn’t really matter at the end. The ending, by the way, is one of the absolute best I have ever read and this really made me lean towards giving it a 5-star rating, but the whole story just didn’t have that spark for me.
Overall, it’s a wonderful story about Circe and a very worthy retelling of her life. I could never have imagined all that she goes through and what happens, who she meets, etc, just from research on this character, but I think Madeline Miller did an absolutely incredible job at fictionalising and retelling this myth. I gave it 4 stars and I would highly recommend, but don’t expect to read it in one day unless you are used to a very detailed, complex, arduous and flowery writing style.
That’s all for now, my brain has gone to mush after all that, but I hope you enjoyed my post. See you soon, stay safe,
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK (affiliate link) – Amazon FR (affiliate link) – AbeBooks (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Audible FR (affiliate link) – Amazon US – Waterstones – Barnes and Noble – Audible UK – Scrib’d – Kobo