Book Review: Circe

CIRCE | Madeline Miller
04.10.2018 | Little, Brown and Company
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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Helios is the god of the sun and the mightiest of all Titans. When his daughter Circe is born, he realizes immediately that she is a strange child. His previous children have all embodied his power and the beauty of their mother, but Circe is meek and has a voice that makes those around her uncomfortable. With no one in the house of gods to embrace her, Circe turns her attentions to the mortal world and hopes to find companionship there.

As Circe ages, she realizes that she is gifted in the power of witchcraft. She has the ability to turn mortals into gods, rivals into monsters, and set fear in the hearts of those around her. In order to shield the world from her powers, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island. Here Circe begins to delve deeper into her powers. Many will come to her island. Not all will survive. The day will come when Circe must harness her power and fight for what she has come to love.

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When I was born, the word for what I was did not exist.

I had no idea what to expect when I first picked up CIRCE as a Book of the Month selection. I knew that I loved mythology and the idea that this book dove into the life of a character I knew less about was intriguing. Since I generally read within the crime fiction genre I found myself putting off picking this one up, as it was such a huge leap outside of my comfort zone. When I saw that the audiobook was finally available at my library, I immediately put a hold on it and decided it was time.

The story of Circe’s life is not one that I was familiar with prior to reading this book, so right off the bat I felt overwhelmed by the amount of data being thrown at me. One of the nice things about also owning the physical book, was that the back has an index of characters, but obviously since I decided to listen to this one during my commute, that wasn’t always helpful to me. After about the first half of the book and the realization that I needed to pay close attention to this story I started to get sucked into Circe’s world. Madeline Miller has a delightful ability to throw a gazillion details at a reader, but make them flow smoothly and have a story come to life. I think this retelling could easily have been bogged down in fact after fact, but Miller presented everything as a story being handed down through the generations. The characters are truly fascinating and the story is one that sweeps the reader away into a world of myth.

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I was alone and a woman. That was all that mattered.

While I was fully invested in the story after the first half of the book, I did find myself bored at some sections. During these times my mind would wander and by the time I started to focus back in on the story, I was greatly confused about what was happening. I think my reading background has a lot to do with my ability to stay devoted to the book, so I wouldn’t necessarily put this down as a negative, but more as a personal reading difficulty. I would recommend CIRCE to any reader looking for a book steeped in ancient mythology. The narration of the audiobook was excellent, so if you’re looking to pick this one up and have time to sit down and truly focus, I recommend giving it a listen.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Circe

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