Book Review: Circe

Amazon Cover

Circe by Madeline Miller


In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child — not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power — the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

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.

With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.



Read for Book Club

A coming-of-age story, for someone that takes a thousand years to grow up. While gods might reach adulthood within a few days of being born, they are far from mature. Circe, daughter of Titan and a nymph, is no exception to the rule.

It takes her so looooong to get any agency. That is part coming-of-age, getting and developing agency. And when your family are careless gods who have no bounds, and the child-adult lives in a world where the whim of gods takes agency away from all, cultivating agency can be as helpless as planting seed during hurricane season.

More literary than genre, the book focuses on Circe’s emotional development and back-slides. Lots of mythology is covered from the nature gods to the age of heroes. Beautiful language throughout.

I like to see agency in action, a lot. This story is about developing agency, not using it, so not really my cup of tea. On the other hand, book clubs are great because they make you try new things.