The Greek Myth Retelling that soars with Circe’s (and Miller’s) Magic

Circe by Madeline Miller

Book Name: Circe
Author: Madeline Miller
Genre: Fantasy
Bloomsbury Publishing
Rating: 5 STARS.

To understand how much I enjoyed this book, let me tell you that I’ve only rated two books (out of the thirty seven I’ve read this year) a full five stars. But unfortunately, with this one, I wished I could rate it even higher.

Circe is the narration of the titular character, which begins with the days the witch goddess spent at the feet of her all powerful father Lord Helios and ends with the eternal questions we all want answers to. The questions itself are easy to ask, “Who are you? And who do you want to be?”

The answers are complex for all of us, but none more so that Circe, a goddess who doesn’t look like a god but sounds like a mortal. A goddess who has never found her peace with divinity, who questions her actions and has spewed just as many catastrophes upon the world as any other god. But what makes her story so compelling is the lyrical and introspective spin Miller submerges the Greek myths in.

β€œHumbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.”

― Madeline Miller, Circe

Circe grows from a timid goddess into a woman who tries to overcome the fact that she has been too afraid to love, and even more afraid to live. She grows on the reader all because of how very raw she is: she aches for a friend in her brother, only to find out that she is too entirely dependent on him for companionship but he has never needed her. She puts her trust in everyone kind enough to accept her, only to understand that there is more to people than she sees. Despite every betrayal and every tragedy that befalls her, she’s strong in a simple sort of way.

The book is a beautiful ode to what it means to exist and live, and it explores how there’s so much to each person. A weak goddess is by no means weak. The witch who turns men to pigs wasn’t always the witch. The hero Odysseus was just as subjected to his pride as any other hero. And perhaps, hidden in this book is the biggest wonder of all: a powerless goddess, an outcast, faces the same inner turmoil that we all do. This is the book that will make you ache because of how real it is, how magical and even when it’s painful.

I’m so glad I picked up Circe. It’s stunning inside and out, and has the ability to make you feel so much with it’s hypnotic setting and Miller’s beautifully raw heroine. A must read for those who love complex characters and Greek Mythology.

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