"Circe" by Madeline Miller
"He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none." ― Madeline Miller, Circe
Circe is Madeline Miller's second novel and was published by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2018. This mythological fantasy novel was #1 on the International Bestseller List and Goodread's Choice Award Winner in 2018.
In the world of the Greek Gods, Circe is not like her immortal, powerful peers. She finds comfort in mortals because they share a lack of mythical abilities. Shortly after befriending a mortal, she realizes that she does have power -- the power of a witch. Her magic threatens the Gods, so Zeus banishes Circe to her own island. From her sandy shores, Circe meets all sorts of humans, creatures, and Gods. This Odyssey spin-off is full of action, romance, and strategy.
Miller exceptionally expands the world of the Odyssey and the Greek Gods. With her own unique perspective, Circe feels like a fresh addition to the century-old tale.
Miller's writing style is poetic and vivid. She beautifully describes Circe's island. From the plants and animals to the sights and sounds, the author paints a lively picture in the reader's head. Her words were easy to read, and I was never confused.
The story flows from one chapter to the next. Miller weaves a linear storyline told in the first-person narrative. The construction of the story was well planned out and moved smoothly.
The characters in this story were poised, fierce, and intelligent. I loved every second of Circe's story, and I want to read more about her. She is a strong and independent woman that is brave, smart, and resourceful. The side characters were also fun to read. It was entertaining to read about characters that I have seen in other stories before. For example, I enjoyed reading about the other Greek gods, as they came in and out of the main narrative.
Circe actively addresses the symbols of fate and destiny throughout the novel. These elements are commonly found in fantasy novels, but Miller does not exhaust their value in the story. If there was an absence of fate, then the story would be missing a crucial component to the development of the characters.
My favorite part was reading about Circe's island and powers. Miller's descriptions were so vivid that I could almost see and smell the island.
My only complaint is that I wish Miller explained Circe's powers in more detail. I know that she is the daughter of a titan, and that is where she gets her power, but I would have loved it if she came up with her magic system. Even though there was no explanation, it did not take away from my reading experience.
I thought Circe was a great summer read. I am a sucker for retellings or spin-offs of original tales, so I knew this book was going to be right up my ally. Due to its excellent writing, fun characters, and breathtaking setting, I award Circe 5 out of 5 stars.
*There is a scene in this book that is not suitable for young readers.* I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys fantasy, mythology, romance, or female main characters. If you liked this retelling, then you might like Miller's other book, Song of Achilles.