Book Review ★ Circe ★ Madeline Miller

Circe Cover Art and Blurb

Circe by Madeline Miller
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.

Review – Circe by Madeline Miller

Review Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe by Madeline Miller is beautiful.  Truly & utterly beautiful – but it’s also so very dull. In Greek Mythology, Circe is the daughter of Helios and Perse, a minor goddess and witch who would transform those who wronged her into animals. Miller’s portrayal of Circe didn’t align with how I remembered the goddess. So I did a bit of research because, well, why not?

Girl’s got to get that knowledge.

Miller has the most significant Circe events depicted in her book, but strays from original source material; Homer’s Odyssey for example. And it’s not that Miller’s version is wrong – but her portrayal of Circe’s responses and actions surrounding and following these events isn’t the most accurate, not in my opinion anyway. Miller’s entire tale is told through the golden eyes of Circe. But with Hermes’ help & Athena’s wisdom, Odysseus didn’t seduce Circe, he used moly to protect himself and free his men from Circe’s sty.

Odysseus tricked Circe.

Even Miller’s description of Scylla was too romantic and origin story not quite right.  Scylla was one of the world’s most vicious monsters – and yet I didn’t feel any of that.  Circe was portrayed as this wronged woman in love. Yet she wasn’t wronged, she was vengeful and petty. Fueled by jealousy because Glaucus loved Scylla and not her.

Opinion of Circe by NY Times best-selling author Madeline Miller

Miller downplays Circe’s power and beauty – preferring to have her as a quiet, timid little mouse unsure of herself or her abilities.  She was an enchantress – beautiful and intelligent, not nervous and gullible.  She was arguably one of the world’s first feminists.  And yet Miller portrays her as a vulnerable child.  Even when Miller has Circe ‘come into her powers‘ – it wasn’t enough.  There were too many romantic notions of this frail wisp of a thing just wandering an island picking flowers. 

Despite all of this, it was still a beautiful story.  It just doesn’t align with how I envision Circe.  And that’s alright.  I can still appreciate the amount of heart and soul Miller poured into this novel.  It was indeed a beautiful story.  The writing was terrific, and I’m excited to see what Miller has come up with in terms of the Song of Achilles.

Synopsis About the book

Synopsis

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.

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Links

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