Circe - Madeline Miller

April 18, 2018

5 / 5 Stars 

 

A much-loved legend, retold in an intricate, convincing, tale.

As a child, I loved the story of the Odyssey. Trojan horses, Cyclopes, evil sirens...what wasn't to like? One character always held particular fascination (and mild horror) though, and that was Circe the sorceress...who turned Odysseus' men into pigs. 

 


When I spotted this book on Netgalley, I realised that, aside from the swine-transforming skills, there was very little else I knew about Circe...so was keen to read the story and discover more. I wasn't expecting such a rich, engaging story though, which honestly had me gripped from start to finish.

It begins with Circe the daughter of Helios, an outcast, 'low-grade' goddess, ridiculed and despised by others. Exiled from her home, she's driven to an island, where she discovers her magical abilities.

 

Yes, Odysseus does feature, but he's merely one player in a cast of several, including the nymph/ monster Scylla, the sardonic messenger god Hermes, Odysseus's long-suffering wife Penelope and Dedalus. Yep, even the Minotaur was in there (much to my great delight), and so beautifully woven in, it left me quite staggered.

What are we left with by the end of the book? The knowledge that the legend of Circe has been fully brought to life - that she's no longer a bit-part in The Odyssey, but a strong, fearless, emotional goddess in her own right.

 

I absolutely loved the human, emotional aspect of this book too - that Circe is not only fully realised as a character, but also given emotions that are relateable and at times, desperately sad. We're invited to see her at her most lonely, when she's in love, and when she's quite literally fighting for her right to exist. 

 

A fabulous read...it's a big five-stars from me!

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