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Circe by Madeline Miller [Review]

Goodreads Summary

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Review

Circe is a thrilling adventure that sheds a new twist on Greek Mythology. Whilst Greek Mythology has always been an interest of mine, it hasn’t been something I studied religiously. Miller introduces you to the Gods and Titans in a fun, and yet educational way.

Being the only witch to announce her powers (also known as Pharmaka), Circe is exiled to the deserted island, Aiaia, and spends the majority of her time alone. There’s an element of female empowerment to this book while Circe discovers the ins and outs of the island, finds herself and how to wield her powers. She’s spent her entire life under her father’s thumb, with no real love or companionship to speak of. Her character development is slow-burning, but the more she understands herself and her powers, the more I liked her. She’s fiercely protective of herself, the island, and certain characters (that I won’t mention – no spoilers!), and above all, she fights for what she believes in and takes nobody’s sh*t.

You find yourself rooting for Circe’s happiness as she has spent so much of her life being deemed the ‘least favourite child’ and being bullied into submission. Her growth was so powerful and the trials and tribulations she faces on the Island make you want to dive into the story and fight alongside her. Aiaia was 100 percent the making of Circe.

I’d say this story is a slow-burner and it does take a fair few chapters for any real change to happen. This may account for my waning interest when I first began to read it. The world-building is beautiful, it felt like you were walking in Circe’s shoes through golden hallways, and eventually, Aiaia’s endless forestry. From the halfway point, the action in this story definitely picked up and as things got more intense, the more I enjoyed it.

There are trigger warnings for this book: Rape, body horror, and childbirth. Some of the chapters can be graphic and definitely had my stomach-churning. This is not the book for you if any of these topics are detrimental to your mental health.

Overall, I’d give Circe a 4/5 star rating. The start of the book didn’t reel me in quite as much as I’d have liked it too. It didn’t quite hit the five-star mark for me as I’m not one for slow-burners, but I wouldn’t say this made the book ‘boring’ in any way. Personal preference, that’s all!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

2 Comments

    • Lucy Rambles

      I definitely feel it’s a more original idea for a story to take these “well known” figures, find the one that needed a different spin on their story and bring it to life. It was clever, smart writing that was well researched. 😊

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