But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
Synopsis from Goodreads
This was such a compelling retelling of Circe’s story! I was immediately enthralled in the way Miller tells her story and give us so much insight into a character often sidelined in Greek mythology as nothing more than a conniving witch. Instead, Miller develops Circe to become so much more and we are given the opportunity to learn about much of Greek mythology from the eyes of a character who was witness to it all. Yet, Circe's story itself remains the focus of this book, and we are finally given a female from Greek mythology that we can love and hold up as a true hero.
Circe Has Never Been More Powerful
Circe has been included into so many different media forms, her name is often called upon when people start talking magic, but I’ve never really read a story where she gets autonomy and the chance to simply be a woman (*ahem, nymph) looking for acceptance after a life of abuse. Miller built Circe up to become one of the most notorious and strongest witches in mythology, and yet we are still able to see her vulnerability and wish for her success. We have the chance to watch her come into her own power and finally take control of her life, instead of letting the gods and Titans continue to make her bow to them. Circe's development from tag-along nymph to fully fledged witch is a massive journey that we are able to join her on, sometimes seeing her successes and other times being witness to some incredibly brutal moments in her life. And through it all, she proves her strength and power again and again, even if she cannot always see it for herself. I was rooting for her the entire time!
Greek Heroes Get Real
The older I get, the more I realize just how brutal these heroes of the "Golden Age" really are, and Miller doesn’t shy away from it. I particularly like that she introduces us to different sides of Daedalus, Jason, and Odysseus then we normally read about. It wasn’t simply that we were given these heroes either kept as the wondrous warriors of legend, nor were they retold as brutish, boring men; instead she gave us real characters battling the different ways the gods play with their fates. I loved Daedalus and his relationship with Circe; he’s an incredibly clever man who deeply loves his son and is willing to do anything for Pasiphae as long as she leaves his son alone. Jason is shown to be an egotistical man, one easily swayed and controlled by others as he seeks fame for himself (also a great intro to Medea— she’s always been so creepy in mythology). And Odysseus... well, this was definitely the most real version of him that I’ve ever read. He’s as crafty and clever with words as we know him to be, but finally his disloyalty is discussed and his massive ego acknowledged.
Miller did a wonderful job writing Circe to seem like a classic myth and that we are listening to it being told to us, not simply reading about it. Circe herself gives little nods along the way, telling us how she was getting ahead of herself, or that something she said was a story for later. Circe’s story moves seamlessly through her incredibly long life, from meeting Prometheus to hearing about the aftermath of the Trojan way, without making the reader feel as if we are actually going through thousands of years of Greek history. And in the end, I loved the ending that Miller wrote for Circe. In classic mythology, it really didn’t matter if the myth was about heroes or monsters, it is rare for anyone but the gods to have a happy ending. So it’s wonderful to find that Circe did get a happy ending and, again, was given the autonomy to choose it for herself.
I loved this book and can't wait to get my hands on The Song of Achilles to see how it compares to Circe. Miller did an incredible job with this story and creating a very human goddess from a mythological creature. This was nothing short of an epic and I loved every minute of reading it.
FINAL RATING: 5/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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