top of page

Circe By Madeline Miller Book Review

Updated: Jun 11, 2023


Circe book cover.

Overview

Average Rating

4.28 stars on The StoryGraph

My Rating

5 stars

Genres

Fiction, historical, literary

Descriptors

Adventurous, emotional, reflective

Pace

Medium-paced

CW/TW

Rape, sexual assault, pregnancy (click here for a full list).

Summary

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.


My Review

First off, Miller's writing style and voice is just so...*chef's kiss*. I was drawn in to the story immediately through the pace and flow alone. I hadn't been sure what to expect, this was my first mythology read, but Circe exceeded my expectations and I read the book in five days over the winter break.


Second, Circe's character development. You could really see the growth in this main character as the story progressed. As a child she had been somewhat naïve, but as a reader you get to see her grow into a confident woman, mother, and witch.


Lastly, the character interactions! One thing I noticed the most about Circe, other than her overall development, was how you, as the reader, knew what she was thinking and feeling. This was especially true whenever she interacted with another character. I think part of the allure of Circe is how honest she is, even if that honesty and that truth hurts her or others. If I recall correctly it is mentioned a few times that Circe never does quite understand the Gods and their lifelong grudges. Circe, though immortal herself, is more human than even some of the mortals. She has had the chance to see both sides, mortal and immortal, and decides for herself which she prefers. And this makes the ending that much more satisfying (especially when I was expecting a sad ending because you know, it's Greek).

Interior pages of Circe.

Circe to the TV

Author Madeline Miller announced on her website that "CIRCE is heading to television with an 8 episode season on HBO Max!"


This means it is the perfect time to write a book review and cross our fingers that the show does justice to this breathtaking book.


Mythology TBR List

I was honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed Circe and reading this retelling of a mythological tale. It reminded me of how fascinated I was in elementary school with Ancient Egypt and the docuseries I watched last year on the rise and fall of Ancient Greece. It seems my interest in mythology has once again risen through the cracks.


So, of course, I scoured the internet and #booktok for anything similar. (The Song of Achilles is not on this list because I haven't been able to bring myself to even consider putting myself through that kind of misery).

  1. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

  2. Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

  3. The Immortal Game by Talia Rothschild, A. C. Harvey

  4. Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

  5. Lore by Alexandra Bracken

  6. Lore Olympus: Volume One by Rachel Smythe

  7. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Let me know if you have any other mythological book recs!


19 views0 comments
bottom of page