I recently read Madeline Miller’s book Circe, and I really can’t recommend it enough!
It tells the story of Circe, daughter of the mightiest of Titans, Helios, who spends her childhood being looked down on as weak by her father and the other Gods and Titans. However, when it gradually becomes clear that she possesses incredible powers of witchcraft, Zeus is threatened, and has her banished to a deserted island. Despite the fact she’s in exile, she crosses paths with a variety of men and creatures from legend, and incurs the wrath of a powerful foe.
If that doesn’t already tempt you, here’s 5 reasons why you should read Circe:
It’s based on Greek mythology…
I adore retellings of all kinds, but I particularly love retellings of myths. However, I feel like I haven’t seen enough books adapting Greek myths, the only ones that immediately spring to mind being Adele Geras’ books Troy and Ithaka (which I read years ago!).
Circe does such a good job of capturing the madness that is Greek mythology, chock full of terrifying monsters, vengeful and vain Gods and their horrifying punishments, not to mention romance and adventure.
…but it’s also so much more!
Whilst I adore Greek mythology, one place it was lacking is the filling out of characters. Females tended to either be passive and beautiful, or hideous and evil, whilst men were generally heroes, violent tyrants or simply fools.
Circe, however, turns the Greek myths into something far more complex, full of characters that feel as if they could be real…even if they do drag the sun across the sky in a chariot, turn men into pigs or give birth to horrific, half-animal creatures!
It has an incredible female main character.
It was tempting to describe Circe as ‘a strong female character’, but the phrase has kind of lost its meaning these days, and it doesn’t fully encapsulate what I loved so much about Circe as a character.
She isn’t a kick-ass, tough fighter: she’s just a resourceful woman trying to get by in a world that has been very cruel to her. She has simultaneously been spurned by a mortal she befriended, and knows she can never be one of them, and forsaken by her own kind, the Gods. But instead of feeling sorry for herself she creates a life for herself, learns everything she can about her own powers and becomes one of the strongest and most fearsome witches the world has known.
The writing is stunning!
Whilst my favourite part of the book was the rich and well-drawn characters, I also loved the incredible, lyrical writing that Madeline Miller used. It built up such a dark but magical atmosphere throughout the book, and helped draw me deeper into the world of Greek mythology.
I’m definitely interested to read Madeline Miller’s first book, The Song of Achilles, after reading this one, as I loved the style of it!
The cover is gorgeous!
Ok, this is totally shallow, but I have yet to see an ugly edition of this book! I particularly like the edition I have (pictured above!), which is a beautiful metallic gold colour with a swirling black design over it.
So have you read Circe by Madeline Miller, or are you planning to read it? If you did, what did you think?