Review: Circe by Madeline Miller


“In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is strange – not powerful and terrible, like her father, not gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. But she has a dark power of her own: witchcraft. When Circe’s gift threatens the gods, she is banished to the island of Aiaia where she hones her occult craft, casting spells, gathering strange herbs and taming wild beasts. Yet a woman who stands alone cannot live in peace for long – and among her island’s guests is an unexpected visitor: the mortal Odysseus, for whom Circe will risk everything”. Taken from the book synopsis. 


This is a re-telling of the Greek Goddess, Circe, daughter of Helios, god of the sun. The book is strongly character driven and there is no specific plot to speak of. It follows the life of Circe and her journey of self-development and finding herself. There is no doubt it is beautifully written story, which rolls gently along. I loved reading about Circe’s life on Aiaia, the cultivation of her plants and descriptions of the scenery. There are some moments of gorgeous, lyrical writing, which resonated with me and are so quote worthy:

“But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation”.


”It is common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did”.

I went into this story knowing very little about Greek mythology, it is subject which interests me and I and decided to read it to enhance my knowledge. If, like myself, you know very little of Greek mythology there is a lot to take in, in terms of the names of the different gods and mythological creatures, however I really did enjoy learning about them and their wonderful descriptions. Scylla, the sea monster: “But the truth of her was overwhelming, an immensity that my mind fought to take in. Her necks were longer than ships masts. Her six heads gaped, hideously lumpen, like melted lava-stone. Black tongues licked her sword-length teeth”. The birth of the Minotaur was quite hideous! ”The lips of my sister’s wound parted and the thing slid forth. It thrashed like a fish on a hook and muck flew across our faces”.

I can appreciate this is a well written book and without doubt the author is extremely knowledgeable on the subject, but the issue for me, and the reason behind the middling 3 star review, was the pace of the story and the lack of, for want of a better word ‘oomph”! It is certainly no page-turner and as such my mind wandered, finding it difficult at times to engage. Up the anti a bit on the romance and throw in a few swashbuckling fights and it would have been a game changer for me.

I will definitely go ahead and read A Song of Achilles, hopefully it will be a bit more ‘punchy’. It will be interesting to compare the two.

Published by twistedinpages

Reader • Reviewer • Blogger

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