“Circe,” by Madeline Miller, was recommended to me by my fellow bookworm sister-in-law; While I was in Florida last month, sitting poolside while slowly but surely inching toward the end of “Romanovs,” she was devouring page after page of this mythological tale. She rattled off the premise of the book and I had my doubts on whether or not it would interest me- Aside from high school academic literature, I had never read about Greek Mythology and really just wanted to be engrossed in a captivating, easy read post- nonfiction binge. I therefore picked up my latest reviewed book, “Girl, Stop Apologizing,” to ensure smooth passage into a more lighthearted genre.
But time and time again I saw Circe show up on my Instagram feed, book lists, and more, so I downloaded the Kindle version knowing that I would be traveling in the near future. I anticipated that with my Amazon Fire, I could carry the story along with ease and pace myself.
The 395-page tale took me no time to read, however. I quickly learned why it was awarded by Goodreads for “Best Fantasy” and was surprised by my interest in such a foreign genre. It crossed territories between Fantasy Fiction and Historical Fiction and read so much more effortlessly than some of my earlier endeavors. The storyline was powerful and well- written, took me on a journey that felt both intimate and profound, but I loved highlighting names that had historical significance to read about some of the world’s earliest characters.
Circe is not a made-up entity for the sake of this book but is a true figure in Greek Mythology and Classical Literature. By most accounts, she was the daughter of Helios, the Titan sun god, and Perse, an Oceanid nymph. (Few site that she was instead the daughter of Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft.) The story of Circe can be referenced in Homer’s “Odyssey,” an 8th– century BCE sequel to his Trojan War epic “Iliad,” but Miller’s 2018 modern retelling and depicts the protagonist in an entirely new light.
Circe grew up in the shadows: She did not display characteristics of her mother’s beauty and charm, did not inherit the godlike powers that her father possessed. Her voice was more like a mortal’s and because of her muted make-up, became the afterthought child. The dull sibling.
A momentous series of events throughout Circe’s early life dictates her ultimate eternal fate: A sentence of exile on the beautiful but solidary island of Aeaea. There, she uses the land and its creatures to acquire a humble shelter, protection and companionship with wild wolves, lions, and boars by her side, and herbs and materials that allow her to discover and refine her magical talents. On Aeaea, Circe finds her calling, her purpose, and the book hooks the reader in by sharing accounts of how her sorcery influences her relationships with the gods, the mortals she meets, the nuisances and the adorations of her life.
Circe was a mesmerizing character; I too, was wrapped up in her spell. She had heart. Her fierce, fiery yet gentle spirit simmered on the surface of my Kindle until the very last page. She exemplified the qualities of a heroine without her father’s overwhelming power or her mother’s graceful, airy charisma; Instead she rose to greatness with her skirt tied up, dirt under her fingernails, and determination in her soul.
FINAL SCORE: 4.1 The more I think about this novel, the more I like it. Madeline Miller’s storytelling skills are incredible and the way that she transforms something old into a modern, intricate piece is a talent to be admired. I am eager to read her other book, “Song of Achilles,” a tale about the Trojan War and its heroes.
BEST FOR: Bookworms who like easy reads with depth and dimension. This story will certainly take you on an extraordinary ride.
NOT GOOD FOR: Those who have no interest in Greek Mythology or the fantastical.
IF THIS BOOK/ AUTHOR WAS A HIGH SCHOOL STEREOTYPE: The Respected Outcast
**Want to see what I’m reading next? Find me on GoodReads and join the 2019 challenge with me! https://www.goodreads.com/addingpunctuation**