Published by Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Synopsis: 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.
I received an advanced reader’s copy from Little, Brown and Company in exchange for an honest review.
This book takes mythology and storytelling to a whole new level. For those of you who don’t know, Madeline Miller also wrote The Song of Achilles. For those of you who do know, I have no doubt you loved that book, and this book will be no different.
The plot occurred over a long time period (like hundreds of years). It begins when Circe is born, then to her childhood, and her first love, then exile, and eventually her life alone on the island. Throughout the years, much of Circe’s life passes in monotony, she is focused on perfecting her witchcraft and becoming the witch every god and goddess fears. During her exile, she comes into contact with stray sailors and voyagers, which she takes her own wrath out on. She develops an elusive affair with a renown god, an infamous icon in Greek history, and one of the biggest names in mythology. Circe isn’t afraid of her sexuality, and takes every opportunity she has for herself. Her life becomes centered around her newborn son, Telegonus, and she outrages the goddess Athena in the process. Her whole life is filled with drama and excitement while also depicted as boring and repetitive. Hundreds of years pass in Circe’s life before she fully begins to understand her place in the world and decide what she really wants.
Circe is the goddess many of you (including me) have probably never heard of before now, but she is the goddess and story we all deserve to hear. A true witch outcast by her family and peers, she is the epitome of the demonization women have faced throughout history. On her own, she learns to not care about others and perfects her witchcraft to use to her advantage and to use to get revenge on those who have done her wrong. Viewed as a villain, as most independent women in this time were, she’s a character people can understand and relate to as all of her actions are justified. Sometimes people need to be rude and callous, women are justifiably allowed to step on others’ toes when it comes to certain things. She’s a goddess who fully embraces her sexuality and breaks the stigma that women can’t have casual affairs. As someone who always speaks her mind, doesn’t let others walk over her, and embraces herself for who she is, her story should have been told, and I’m so happy Madeline was the one to do it. Along with Circe, we are introduced to other big name people such as: Daedalus, Icarus, Odysseus and Penelope and Telemachus, Hermes, Athena, and the nymphs of Circe’s family. The character development and description in this book is some of the best I’ve ever read.
For the most part, all events take place on Circe’s island of Aiaia and her encounters with travelers. Alone on the island, much is centered around the greenery and nature aspects of Aiaia and how Circe used herbs, plants, and nectar to perfect her art. And the book contains a beautiful map in the front cover!
Early on, what Circe thought was true love turns horribly sour and sad, pushing her away from men for her entire life. A true feminist icon, Circe gives no shit what others view her affairs and relationships as (though she is exiled no one sees her often). Forming an acquaintances with benefits type relationship, she is not afraid to kick him out, tell him off, and kick him off her island. She is the woman we all wish to read about who can separate feelings from sex (because they are out there believe it or not). She develops more illicit affairs with others and eventually falls in love with an unlikely candidate who understands her and sees who she really is. Through a surprising bond formed between the two, Circe learns to love again with her whole heart, unfiltered and irrevocable. Her true love in this story is with the humans she’s been taught to stay away from, for they are only mortal.
It’s been a long time since I’ve loved a book like this one. It’s not the fast-paced, eventful book like many other YA books. It’s more slow-paced, thoughtful, and reflective telling of the story of Circe and her journey through life. It’s sweet, careful, and beautifully written. I read as slow as I could because I never wanted it to end. A heartbreaking, but in a good way, type of story that everyone will appreciate and understand. I loved The Song of Achilles, but this book has to be my favorite between the two. As much as I love Achilles and Patroclus, something about this book had me hooked from the beginning. Miller’s writing has improved so much from TSoA, and her writing was never even bad to begin with; it’s that good. Circe also has one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen (the UK version), with a map (all versions), so if that isn’t enough incentive to buy it, I don’t know what is. Mythology is something we ALL need more of, and there can never be enough of it in YA. For anyone who loves witchcraft, magic, and mythology, this book is for you.