CIRCE (#1 New York Times bestseller)

By Madeline Miller

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bethany miller
An excellent reworking of the myths I read in school. I really enjoyed them in the novel format. I hadn't been familiar with the Circe mythology and I found the story compelling. The character was both modern and old with real emotions and behaviors. Altogether well done.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
peachy
Not sure how this made the NYT #1 bestseller list, and I will no longer use them as a reason to read a book from now on. This book was full of fantastical descriptions that became mundane after a while. Plot was disjointed and the ending was thin. Had to make myself finish it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lucywang98yahoo com
I loved Song of Achilles, and was nervous about the second novel, but that was completely unfounded. I will admit I don’t have a lot of in-depth knowledge of Greek mythology, so I can’t say if/where liberties may have been taken. That being said, Circe is such an interesting character with a journey that spans several familiar figure in mythology. I love the way the characters are brought to life and I just get caught up in the story itself. I can’t wait for the next book! This may even make my short list of books I have read multiple times.
The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds :: Warlight: A novel :: Red Mountain: A Novel :: The Breakthrough Series (3-Book Set) :: Matar a un ruiseñor (To Kill a Mockingbird - Spanish Edition)
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
cameo rogers
While the story was quite interesting, I found the prose rather jarring. It uses very short sentences that felt, to me, to really break up the flow of the story. There were also a number of times that I couldn't figure out if the character was using an internal monologue or if there was some weird mind reading thing going on because sometimes there would be a reaction based on the internal monologue and other times no reaction.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
rimesh
I still don’t know if I really know the main plot to this book. It took 25 chapters to get to the last chapter before it ever had any meaning. Literally didn’t enjoy the book until I read the last chapter...I liked the way it ended but that was about it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
conor
This is one of those "you just can't put it down" books. I was not familiar with all the legends of the gods, so that made it an interesting read. I would totally recommend this book. It kept my interest from start to finish. But at the end, I did wonder what she became. Was she successful? It seemed to me it could have gone either way. I would love to see more about the characters.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
edna lucia
For some reason this book was too deep to read at a time when I was reading several very other deep books and I needed something light and fun. I'm sure if I were in a different place, I'd like it. I returned this book
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
elaaf
Very creative and interesting book. I did enjoy it.....reminded me of the days of readying Homer''s "Odessey." and the "Iliad" Fun trying to keep all those Gods of the long ago straight. It was also a good story line with twists and turns and unusual characters through out.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cheryl
Beautiful writing but very slow paced. Felt the author meandered around Greek mythology as Circe meandered around her island. Unfortunately, Circe is not portrayed as a very interesting character; she seems more of a foil for the others.. But, perhaps, that is the point. I gave it four stars because the writing was
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jeannene boyd
Reading Madeline Miller’s compelling and entertaining novel Circe, it is clear that Miller has a fluent grasp of Greek mythology and in retelling the myth of The Odyssey, she has written a fable about a woman of privilege, Circe, who disenchanted with the brutal rituals of the gods, descends to the mortal world of Crete where she must navigate the melodramas of Zeus and his allies on one hand and the travails of the mortals on the other.

Creating a sensual, tactile world that immerses the reader, the novel shows how Circe, part Earth Mother, part good witch, and part goddess, uses her cunning, intelligence, and humanity to craft a meaningful life on the Earth.

It’s a good thing Circe has an affinity for humans because as punishment for casting a spell on one of her rivals, she is expelled from her father’s home and must live among mortals. Her exile is in many ways to her advantage. She was looked upon as a misfit anyway, not beautiful enough to be a true goddess and “called Goat for her ugliness.” She is not a prized specimen in a world that values “luminous nymphs and muscled river-gods.”

One can, without straining, find political allegory here: The conflict between the Haves and the Have-Nots, gender equality in a patriarchal society. What makes Circe successful is that Miller never preaches. Her portrait of Circe is believable and nuanced, and the conflicts that Circe must overcome make her a stronger woman in a world that would try to belittle her standing and agency. Highly recommended.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
anna l
I'm so disappointed in this. I heard interviews with the author and I love the subject matter and the writing is lyrical, but NOTHING HAPPENS. Circe follows her father around and fights with her siblings for centuries (although there is that weird little encounter with Prometheus, before that whole liver debacle), then hangs out in exile for more centuries, etc. Occasionally she leaves the island to do cool things like deliver the Minotaur or sleep with Daedalus, but nothing sticks; it's just (yawn) back to the island and the most boring wild animals ever created.

She even makes Odysseus boring. Most annoying, nothing happens for a reason. Why do the siblings hate one another? Why does her younger brother love her and then turn evil? Why does her sister want to have sex with a bull? What is up with Medea and why doesn't Circe just punch her in the face?

I know that the very god-ly are different than you and I, but the reasons for that have to be better than just "because they are." The lure of mythology is how very, very much the gods are like us, and how foolish they are in how they waste their gifts and behave. Immortality just offers a larger stage on which to enact their dramas. Somehow, Miller makes the inability to be harmed or die a detraction from the action. It doesn't matter that the Minotaur tries to take off Circe's hand, because it will just grow back. It doesn't matter that Jason and Medea murdered an innocent man, because the purging ceremony apparently works not only for innocent wrongdoing but for everybody. And while turning rapists into pigs has a certain attraction, luring sailors to you to do it is just stupid and cruel. That would be fine if Circe were supposed to be stupid and cruel, but she isn't. She's supposed to be the good witch goddess, but she's mostly just depressed.

I really, really wanted to like this.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
hailey
I really wanted to like it. I was intrigued by its premise and all the positive reviews, but I can't fathom what the hype is about. I did not find it at all engaging and honestly struggled to pay attention because my mind kept wandering off, bored to tears. I could only get 10% through before giving up and buying something else. The writing isn't bad, but it's not good either. Circe is, unfortunately, not a very interesting character and nothing remotely interesting happened in the first few chapters. I thought things might get going after her interaction with Prometheus, but nope, just more random unrelated and unengaging events. Huge disappointment.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
beatriz rodriguez
It's hard not to compare this to Song of Achilles - one of my favorite books of all time. This one absolutely pales in comparison. I never really cared about Circe, or any of the other characters really. In fact, the most interesting people in the books are the ones that barely get a mention like Prometheus and Daedalus (I'd much rather have a book about Prometheus and how he came to the decision to give mortals fire). Circe is just mostly boring. She doesn't do much. All the action happens off stage and people come back and tell her about it. This book is more like reading Wikipedia summaries of things that happened in Greek myths. There's no real plot, just a meandering recitation of what happened to this lady. It's not a bad book, I didn't have to force myself to get through it - Circe is just simply mediocre. Song of Achilles ripped my heart out, but Circe I won't even remember in two weeks. I know this book has tons of 5 star reviews, but I just can't fathom where those are coming from
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
keller parker
I loved The Song of Achilles. Patroclus was written as a very appealing character. Sadly, Circe is not. Centuries old, she is naive (if not downright foolish) and moves through the ages as a victim, quite a pathetic one at that. She makes poor decisions, allows others to manipulate and take advantage of her, and only in the end finds some backbone and redemption. Even so, I found time spent with her to be tiresome.

The novel itself suffers from being a sophomore effort: Insufficient editing. The middle of the book drags, is repetitive, and I had to force myself to continue. A good editor could have tightened up the plot and improved pacing.

Miller is a very good writer, but I did not find this novel engaging or entertaining. In the end, it was simply a chore to finish it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
karenp
In "Circe," sequel of sorts to her best-selling "Song of Achilles," Madeline Miller returns to the setting of ancient mythological Greece to portray the tempestuous life of this singular goddess. One of four (legitimate) children of the sun god Helios and a crafty naiaid, Circe spends most of her early years at her father's knee hoping to gain the favor she lacks from her mother and other siblings; eavesdropping on the various palace intrigue and coming to realize that her father is a selfish if insolent individual. At an early age, she witnesses the torture and punishment of the god Prometheus, who is ultimately relegated to a desert island, and begins to grasp how ruthlessly Zeus is willing to punish those under his rule who dare transgress. When as a young maiden, Circe falls in love with a mortal fisherman, Glaucos, and in seeking revenge against a rival nymph, realizes that she possesses the powers of a witch - and also that the same cruelty she despises in those around her lurks within her as well. Exiled as punishment by her father to the deserted but fertile island of Aiaiai, Circe embarks on an often tedious quest to explore and master her powers. Though she herself cannot leave Aiaiai (though this is circumvented several times during the story), Circe is visited by various visitors from Olympus and elsewhere including Hermes, with whom she spars verbally, occasionally has affairs with, and learns the news of her siblings whose doings are often more depraved than she expects. When a weary traveler who goes by Odysseus finds his way to her island (following his crew who lands earlier and receives an unpleasant punishment for their transgressions), Circe begins a complex relationship with the hero of the Trojan War. As time continues, Circe becomes a mother, confronts the wrath of Athena which she has brought down upon her, and ultimately decides to take the advice she was once given when she wished to do the impossible in her current world: "So child, build a better one."

Thoughts: Reading some novels can be akin to listening to music on a slightly out-of-tune instrument, but this one was near flawless and a delight to read even though most of the characters were less than appealing - and the ones who were perhaps inevitably came off as somewhat dull next to their more fiery counterparts. Atmosphere, setting and place was exquisitely well done with language evoking that of Homer himself (if I remember my texts correctly). Overall, a multi-dimensional and sympathetic look at an enigmatic figure of Greek mythology.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
quinn slobodian
It might only be April, but Circe has already fixed itself a place as one of my favorite books of 2018. I've always been interested in Circe as a mythological figure, but there's surprisingly/relatively little in the world of fiction focused solely on Circe and her own story. Miller's story is a retelling that I didn't realize how much or how desperately I needed it, and I just desperately want to tell everyone to read it.

Crice reads sort of like a literary historical fantasy. Miller's prose is stunning and reads almost like a song. I have heard endless people praise her previous book, The Song of Achilles (which I still have yet to read), for ages, and now, reading Circe, I can understand why. There is something exceptionally magical and effortless about the way in which Miller narrates this story, and I imagine all of her writing is a gorgeous as it was in this book. Every word she writes is both subtle and powerful at the same time, which makes this book one that is hard to put down and even harder to get out of your head.

I think what I loved the most about this story was how Miller stuck so faithfully to the major plot points and events that occur in the myths of Circe's life. She doesn't make any extensive changes or alter her entire life; instead, Miller merely fleshes out these stories and adds much ore context and life to them. Circe became incredibly relatable and someone whose life I truly became invested in. In addition, Miller included all of the characters that Circe interacts with in the many previous stories about her, including Odysseus, her sister (Pasiphaë), her brother (Perses), Penelope, and so many more characters that contribute so much depth and intrigue to this story. Despite the impact that many of these character's have on Circe's life -- both positive and negative--the story never fails to focus solely on Circe and center in on her turbulent life.

The Circe that Miller has created for this book is a remarkable woman, flawed but also remarkably wise and able to adapt to whatever world she is in. My favorite aspect of Circe was her continuous development as a person. In particular, I loved watching how she grew up as a child who never quite fit in or received the respect she desired and became bitter and angry as a result, and how slowly but surely she developed a keen knowledge that guided her throughout her life. Circe has many weaknesses, but she develops many strengths in response to these while also learning how to work with her anger rather than against it and use it for better purposes. I felt so connected to Circe's character, more so than I have to any character in a while. I think I also read Circe at a wonderful point in my life (or not so wonderful, depending on how you look at it) because I was personally experiencing many of the same feelings, revelations, despair that Circe experienced, and I feel she helped me discover how to make it on my own journey. I felt as if I grew myself, and I felt incredibly empowered by this book. I think any woman that reads this book will be able to walk away from it with their own sense of empowerment, in whatever form it may take, and I also think that any person could find something in this book to take away with them.

As beautiful as this book is, it isn't a particularly nice book. There is death, anger, violence, despair, loss, heartbreak, love--there's everything you do and do not want in your life, but there is plenty more negative than there is positive. This is a book that doesn't necessarily make you feel happy, but it leaves you pondering Circe's life and how things happen in one's life, whether they want it to or not.

In addition to the lives of the characters, Circe also contains some beautiful settings and descriptions of the world in which Circe lives. I was so caught up in the descriptions of the island on which she lives, of the large ocean and the deadly monster that lives there, of the palace that she grew up on, and so many more places. This book will absolutely transport you to mythological Ancient Greece.

Overall, I've given Circe five stars and I can't recommend it enough!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
irma rodriguez
Madeline Miller's new novel Circe was mesmerizing. I did not want to stop reading! It was unexpected, this absorption in a book about a Greek mythic figure.

I had read the Greek Myths (Robert Graves two volumes!) and Homer and Virgil--all the classics-- long ago in high school and college. I knew Circe from these tales.

But Miller's book is more than a retelling of the myths. Circe comes alive in these pages. And if, yes, the characters are Titans and Olympians and heroes, it took no trouble for my suspension of belief to accept them. Perhaps, due to the prevalence of magic and witches and superhuman power in literature and film today. But I credit Miller's amazing writing.

Circe's world holds to a tenuous peace between the powerful Titans and the upstart Olympians. These gods are vengeful and imperious, all-powerful and eternal. She is the daughter of Helios, a golden-eyed child overlooked and dismissed, her very voice offensive to the gods.

She has been fascinated by mortal humans ever since Prometheus gave them fire, earning the gods' punishment of eternal torment. Secretly, she brings the bound Prometheus a cup of nectar. Circe the dejected is also a girl of will and defiance.

She also makes many mistakes.

She discovers her gift for witchcraft, the use of herbs and will to cause transformation. She uses her power to transform the mortal man she loves. But he loves another and Circe transforms her rival into her true form--turning Scylla into a monster. The gods punish Circle by exiling her to a deserted island.

On her island, Circe spends centuries perfecting her craft with herbs, her friends the wild beasts and the occasional exiled nymph. She is visited by the gossiping Hermes who becomes her lover, and the inventive Daedelus who gifts her a magnificent loom. Later, Daedalus needs her to help him entrap her sister's monstrous child, the Minotaur.

Sailors sometimes land on her shore; she learned not to trust them and turns them into swine. Then arrives the weary Odysseus; his enemy Athena has beset his journey home from the Trojan War with cruel trials. He stays with Circe for a year, changing her life forever.

I want to read Miller's previous book The Song of Achilles! I already have it on my Kindle!

I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher through NetGalley.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
behraz
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.”

This is the pièce de résistance I’ve been searching for my entire life. Not only did I fall in love with this story, I predict that this will be the best book I’ll read all year. This book is about healing and doing what it takes to come into your own. This book is about love; the love between lovers, the love of a mother, and the love you must find in yourself. This book proves why family of choice will always be greater than family of origin. This book is about magic, and how we can find it in ourselves if we look hard enough. This is a book about becoming the witch you’ve always buried deep inside you.

“They do not care if you are good. They barely care if you are wicked. The only thing that makes them listen is power.”

Okay, maybe I should start this review off with a somewhat personal story. I was very privileged to go a very good high school where I was able to study The Iliad and The Odyssey for a class my freshman year. And fourteen-year-old Melanie fell in love. To say I was obsessed was an understatement, and more and more my heart was filled with love for Odysseus, Athena, and a certain love affair with the witch-goddess Circe.

Even upon finishing that class, I still couldn’t get enough of Homer’s words. And to this day, The Iliad and The Odyssey are the only books that I collect many editions of. All my loved ones and family correlate these epic poems with me, and always bring me new editions from their travels, and give me gifts for special events and holidays the same way they do with Harry Potter. One of the most prized possession I own is an edition of The Odyssey that was given to me by someone who meant a lot to me, at a very important time in my life. And these two tomes will always be a big part of my identity, and I will always recognize that they not only shaped me as a reader, but they shaped me as a human being, too.

So, when I found out that that Greek mythology retelling queen, Madeline Miller, was writing a book centered around Circe, I knew it was going to end up being one of my favorite books of all time. And it ended up being everything I wanted and more. I hate to throw around the word masterpiece, but if I had to pick a book to give that title to, I’d pick Circe.

“Odysseus, son of Laertes, the great traveler, prince of wiles and tricks and a thousand ways. He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.”

And even though Odysseus plays a huge role in this story, this book is Circe’s and Circe’s alone. We get to see her growing up in Oceanus, with her Titan sun god father Helios, and loveless nymph mother Perse, and her three more ambitious siblings, Aeëtes, Pasiphaë, and Perses. We get to see her living her life of solitude, exiled on the island of Aiaia. We also get to see her make a few very important trips, that are very monumental in Greek mythos. But we get to see all of Circe, the broken parts, the healing parts, and the complete parts. We get to see her love, her loss, her discovery, her resolve, and her determination. We get to see her question what it means to be immortal, what it means to be a nymph in a world ruled by gods, and what it means to just live. Her journey is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and probably unlike anything I will ever read again. I have no combination of words to express how much her life and her story means to me. But I promise, I’m not the same person I was before reading this book.

“…All my life had been murk and depths, but I was not a part of that dark water. I was a creature within it.”

This is ultimately a story about how different the tales will always be told for a man. And how the ballads will always be sung for heroes, not heroines, even if a woman was truly behind all the success the man greedily reaped. How the light will always fall to vilify the woman and showcase her as a witch that needs to be tamed, a sorceress that needs to be subdued, or an enchantress that needs to be defeated. Women, no matter how much agency they carve out in any male dominated world, will always be a means to an end to further the achievements of man. Always. And Circe displays that at the forefront of this story.

Circe is most well known for turning Odysseus’s men into pigs when they come to her island in The Odyssey, but Madeline Miller does such a wonderful job weaving all this Greek mythology into a fully fleshed out, brand-new tale. She has created something so unique, yet so breathtakingly good, I think so many readers will find it impossible to put this new-spin of a story down. I was completely captivated and enthralled from the very first line to the very last line. This book just feels so authentic, I felt like I was in the ocean, on the island, and traveling right beside Circe throughout. And I never wanted to leave her side.

“It was their favorite bitter joke: those who fight against prophecy only draw it more tightly around their throats.”

Overall, I understand that this is a book that is very targeted to me and my likes. Not only is this a character driven story, with a main protagonist being a character I’ve been in love with for over a decade, but the writing was lyrical perfection. I’m such a quote reader, and I swear I would have highlighted this entire book. This book is also so beautifully feminist that it makes me weep just thinking about the things Circe had to endure. And it showcases the unconditional love of found families, yet also between a mother and her child, while simultaneously abolishing the notion that blood is worth more than anything else in any world. This book heavily emphasizes that you will never be the mistakes that your parents have committed. The entire story is a love letter to love itself and reveals all the things we are willing to do in the name of it. And most importantly, this is a book about how we are truly only ever in charge of our own stories, even though our actions may change the fate for others around us. Please, pick this masterpiece up, and I hope it changes your life, too.

Thank you, Madeline Miller, I will carry your Circe in my heart for the rest of my life.

“That is one thing gods and mortals share: when we are young, we think ourselves the first to have each feeling in the world.”

Trigger/Content Warnings: Violence, gore, murder, torture, physical abuse, child abuse, thoughts of suicide, brief scene with cutting, graphic childbirth scenes, mention of bestiality, mention of incest, animal sacrifice, death of a sibling, death of a child, death of a loved one, death of an animal, rape, adultery, and war themes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pdorff
Circe is a minor goddess / sea nymph in Greek mythology. While her father is the powerful Titan sun-god, Helios, she is the runt of the litter. She has a weak voice by godly standards, has few and limited powers, and is sympathetic to the fates of humans in a way that is considered ungodly. (The latter was strengthened by her affinity for Prometheus, the god who introduced fire to humanity and was subsequently punished by having his liver eaten each day by an eagle.) Circe’s underdog status would only go so far in producing an interesting story, but things become more intriguing when she begins to develop her skill as a witch. This makes her more powerful, and the increasing power of a minor deity threatens greater gods. Some of her abilities as a witch may result from her divinity, but it’s made clear that even mortals can practice witchcraft. Her gift for witchcraft is especially prominent in her abilities of transformation.

Circe’s adverse reaction to the Cinderella treatment she gets at home in addition to the increasing and unexpected threat she presents as a witch – seen when she turns a mortal into a god and another nymph into a monster -- gets her exiled to an island. While it would seem that her story would get uninteresting while she’s exiled to a remote island, she’s visited by a number of mythic figures – mortal and god alike – who keep her tale fascinating, these include: the master craftsman Daedalus, the messenger deity / trickster god Hermes, and – most crucially to her story – the heroic king of Ithaca, Odysseus. She also makes a couple trips off the island, such as when her sister, Pasiphaë, gets a special dispensation to temporarily break the exile in order for Circe to attend to the birth of Pasiphaë’s child. (This might make it seem that the siblings were close, or at least liked each other, but that’s not the case at all. The only family member she has a decent relationship with is her younger brother, Aeëtes, but he is not so much warm to her as he is tolerating of her affections, and even that alliance of convenience is doomed.)

Miller presents readers with a Circe who is both sympathetic and intriguing because she’s no match for the forces arrayed against her and can only survive by her wits and self-knowledge. Circe’s diligence in practicing her craft and her knowledge of her strengths and limitations allows her to persevere in the face of great dangers. She faces hordes of horny sailors, familial dysfunction, and, most crucially, a dire threat to the child who results from her dalliances with one of her most prominent visitors. The story features the many twists, common in Greek Mythology, resulting from gods and men trying to outwit the Fates, but it’s also the straightforward story of a mother who’ll do anything to keep her child safe against a hostile world.

I’d highly recommend this book for all readers of fiction, regardless of whether they have a specific interest in Greek Mythology. It’s a great story, well written, readable, and featuring characters who one can love and others who one can loathe.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
luk lalinsk
Ever since my high school Latin class, I have loved the stories of the gods and goddesses. How they ruled and reigned with their strength and wraith.

Usually, in most stories, there are clearly the bad guys and the good guys (bad gods/goddesses vs. good gods/goddesses) however Circe led with a different approach. Never a rotten bone in her, little Circe ran through her father's house with a sweet and naive innocence about her. Growing up changed that for Circe. Learning that while she could not be powerful like her father, Circe learned another way from her siblings on how to possess strength. Using witchcraft, our goddess comes close to possessing what she longs for, however it all goes disastrously wrong.

There are many things that kept me drawn to Circe's story. I seemed to develop a love for her and rooted for her throughout the whole book. While not quite a normal goddess, she worked with what she could get and cultivated her island. For living a life of solitude, Circe has plenty of visitors, some good and some bad. These visitors tested her soul and wisdom in her witchcraft so that she could protect herself and those that she loved. Now Circe is no longer sweet and naive but vengeful. But out of all of those visitors, Odysseus seemed to bring out the best version of her. I admire how her armor came off and a new Circe emerged. Odysseus' stories let Circe live out in the real word, beyond the shores of her island. It was like she could live a normal life. No longer a prisoner to her island, it was a space that they could share. I was overjoyed for her at this possibility. But like always, the wind changes, Circe's life changes, and the book takes on a whole new chapter.

I will say that my favorite event is the very last page. Pure perfection
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
bernadette
I must admit I was a little disappointed by this book, probably because The Song of Achilles is one of the best books I ever read. It is objectively not easy to depict a complex character, who is a minor deity yet has more humanity in her than both Titans or Olympians. The story promises a lot in the first half, while the second part becomes repetitive and the characters more cliché'd and the story ends up reading like a young adult book. I really hope that Ms. Miller's next work will rekindle her magic.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mutualutuell
In high school and college I adored my Greek Mythology classes because the myths are basically just a series of soap opera stories which I enjoyed in those days. Through the years, I’ve enjoyed books and movies that dig deeper into the details about the Greek Gods and heros as individuals. I particularly liked the previous book by Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles, because it told the story of Achilles from a unique and very engaging character’s point of view. The author filled in the gaps with her own imagination and it was extremely well done. So, I was excited to read her next novel, Circe, about a nymph of whom I knew nothing.
Sadly, this one isn’t as good as The Song of Achilles. Circe’s story really isn’t all that compelling until the end. She is largely ignored, scorned, and used throughout her life. She’s simply not all that special. And, she’s not human enough to gain my sympathy, admiration, or understanding. I lost interest during much of the story and all the soap opera stuff I remembered learning about in my younger days is mentioned without enough details or depth to jar my memory sufficiently or make any impact on the novel’s storyline whatsoever. It’s just fluff that is mentioned to pad the novel, in my opinion.
The one character I enjoyed reading and learning about was Telemachus. After finishing the novel, I did some online searching regarding Circe and also Telemachus. The most interesting aspect of the novel Circe, to me, is how the author chose pieces of different stories (many of which are contradictory in various myths and compilations) and wove them all together into a coherent storyline. I just wish that more of the storyline was as compelling as the last part.
I listened to the audio book narrated by Perdita Weeks. She has a really lovely voice and I enjoyed listening to her a lot. At times she was too quick in the reading but that is my only criticism. Her voice fit this story very nicely. I give her an A.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
olivia
In Miller’s writing, the gods are defective. In her novel, Song of Achilles, the gods don’t understand love. That joyful, painful privilege is a human specialty. In Circe, Miller once again examines the gap between human and divine and finds the divine wanting, perhaps even more so than in her first novel. Heartless, power-greedy, manipulative, conniving—the gods do not shine. This attitude has its roots in Homer, of course, but Miller gets us up close and intimate with a divine life that calls the gods’ bluff of superiority. Circe, a minor divinity herself, lives far enough outside of the usual haunts of the gods that over a long, challenging life she gains perspective and understanding about her fellow immortals. She finds ways, mostly painful, to transcend from the divine to the human—a lovely, ironic twist on our usual expectations. Miller digs in deep with this ancient theme—what is the meaning to life if it’s eternal? Answer—not much, but asking that is a great way to get at the meaning of mortal existence where the answer Miller explores is rich and nuanced enough to be hard to put into summary. Bravo for that.

Circe didn’t always admire mortals. At her first glimpse, she thinks “They look weak as mushroom gills.” And that striking simile—who has ever thought to compare a group of mortal heroes to the underside of a mushroom?—brings me to one of the book’s other great strengths. Lyrical, vivid descriptive language. Miller has gone to elaborate lengths to bring this world of gods, imaginary things and actual historical Bronze Age details to life. Occasionally, her language feels contrived and we hear the author working hard, but far more often it blends beautifully into the action and draws us in.

Miller makes clear the distance between the gods and mortals—just in case we’re tempted to underestimate the danger posed by these powerful divinities (a fatal mistake for humans). Early on she places Minos, King of Crete, a demi-god but still mortal, next to his bride-to-be, a full goddess and Circe’s sister. Minos “towered over his advisers…his chest broad as the deck of a ship…Yet when he placed his hand upon my sister’s delicate arm, suddenly he looked like a tree in winter, bare and shriveled-small.” Even the smallest of the gods dwarf any human, but only in power and arrogance, not in capacities to feel and adapt to hardship.

Much later, after her complicity with the human condition has expanded, Circe watches young, mortal Ariadne dance, and Miller’s graceful language brings out her central theme: “I watched her dance, arms curving like wings, her strong young legs in love with their own motion. This was how mortals found fame, I thought. Through practice and diligence, tending their skills like gardens until they glowed beneath the sun. But the gods are born of ichor and nectar, their excellences already bursting from their fingertips. So they find their fame by proving what they can mar: destroying cities, starting wars, breeding plagues and monsters. All that smoke and savor rising so delicately from our altars. It leaves only ash behind.”

Her growing awareness of the depths of the human condition bring her closer to that uniquely human skill, love. Of a dear human (not Odysseus yet—he comes later) she says, “I had no right to claim him, I knew it. 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 was he to me.” Miller captures in this gorgeous image that ineffable notion, loving another. She uses poetic cadence to enrich her meaning. When we do meet Odysseus, Miller’s language gives him to us with precision, the exhausted, war-weary traveler, “His face in the yellow light was like an old shield, battered and lined.” And later, “Odysseus, I thought. The spiral shell. Always another curve out of sight.”

There’s another idea threading through that seems especially appropriate these days, in the midst of #MeToo movement. The gods treat Circe, and others, with the arrogant self-absorption and dismissal that is often present in the worst of human male treatment of women. In Miller’s take, the gods have a divinely amplified version of this failing that allows her to make her point with crisp pointedness. Helios, Circe’s sun god father, in his obsidian halls “believed that the world’s natural order was to please him.” He’s a study in bad fathering and of judgment lead astray because of stupid assumptions about everything female. One of the key turns of the book’s development involves rape and revenge for rape. Circe even takes the epic poets to fault as part of the larger portrayal of men’s attitude toward women. Circe recollects hearing, years after Odysseus has left, a sung version of her meeting with him, “the proud witch undone before the hero’s sword.” The poet’s song didn’t match the reality she knows. “Humbling women seems to be a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.” (Take that Homer. I wrote a whole novel to give Briseis her side of the tale, so I don’t disagree with Miller on this.)

When most of us think of Circe, we associate her with Odysseus, but he isn’t the main event in this novel. He is very important, but he doesn’t suck the air out of the story. Miller takes hints from the uglier moments at the end of the Odyssey, the post-Homeric tradition of Odysseus’ death and her own imaginative portrayal and gives us a new interpretation of this usually admired man. He hasn’t lost his strengths, but he’s showing the wear and tear of all that violence, trickery, loss and betrayal. Miller’s Odysseus makes sense, but you may want to wash him out of your memory if you’ve always loved the hero. I especially enjoyed the way Miller gives us one Odysseus first and then, gradually, forces us to see more and other aspects of him. Odysseus has worked his famous charm on Circe as much as she has charmed his men into pigs. She has to experience much before she sees all of the man as he really was. And she’ll need help from some unexpected quarters. If you’re going to understand a man, talk to his family.

Miller’s Circe spellbinds with gorgeous language, compelling characters and new takes on Greek mythology and Homer. She is both respectful of ancient tradition and captivating in her relevance to contemporary concerns.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
gretchen kersten
It is wonderful to have Madeleine Miller writing her remarkable books. With all of the ancient sleuth books being written I despaired for the kind of historical fiction/mythology books by Robert Graves but Ms. Miller has written her book about Achilles and now Circe that fills this void. The Song of Achilles brought the world of the Trojan War to life and Circe brings the realm of the gods to us as the world of mortals and gods collide.

Circe is a perfect subject for a novel and Ms. Miller gives us an engaging book from beginning to end. She is familiar as the witch who changed Odysseus’ sailors into pigs but in this novel she comes to life as never before. Circe is a Titan, the daughter Helios and the nymph Perse, the granddaughter Oceanos, another of the Titans. Circe is regard by others and herself as simply a nymph, a minor goddess with few powers. This is until Circe and her siblings discover they have a gift for brewing potions or pharmaka and casting spells. Circe transgresses the order of the gods by casting spells that turn the mortal Glaucos into a sea god and the nymph Scylla into a six headed monster. When Circe confesses that she has a gift for spells, Zeus banishes her to the island of Aiaia.

On her magic island, Circe hones her skill at casting spells, braves marauding pirates, councils her niece Medea, falls in love with Odysseus and bears his child. The novel is rich in description and story. Circe become a real woman in these pages who fears, loves, hates, holds back her feels when she must and seeks to be free from her island prison. This is one of those rare book that bring joy in the reading and sadness when you come to the end, wanting more.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ruby blessing
Sometimes you pick up a book and it captures your imagination and it stays with you forever. I had to slow my reading speed, I enjoyed this book so much. I did not want the story to end. I know nothing about Homer, when I read anything about the ancients, my eyes glaze over with the unpronounceable names and the twisted plots. All I knew when I started this book was that Homer wrote the Illyad, Odysseus was a soldier who traveled, and Circe was an evil temptress that turned men into swine. Miller takes the ancient story and brings it alive with her brilliant prose. She recreates the glittering court of the Olympians, giving the multitude of Gods and Titans depth and personalities. This is Circe's story, the abused and neglected daughter of Helios pushed from his bright light by her crafty siblings. In a pique of temper, she casts a spell on a greedy cousin earning Zeus's wrath and banishment to a deserted island. Here, broken-hearted, she learns to bond with nature, using its properties to protect herself. This is a coming of age story. How a child becomes a woman and finds both her destiny and her purpose as she navigates the hostile world where she lives. I loved this book. It brought both the past and mythology alive. In Miller's capable hands, readers will lose themselves in history and understand the how these tales withstood the test of time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rachael lada something
No matter what else you might think about them no one knows how to do drama like the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology. And no one knows how to translate this drama for the modern mind like Madeline Miller. In her last novel, Song of Achilles, she gave the god famous as a warrior, a softer side. Now she is back with Circe, the story of the daughter of Helios (the sun god) and Perse, a water nymph whose father is Oceanos. She and her three siblings are the first, and only, of the gods who possess powers through the use of materials from the natural world-a gift called pharmaka, or, witchcraft. After Circe uses a potion against another nymph, she is banished from her father's kingdom. She spends her life alone on an island, expanding her powers until the time when a king from Ithaca lands on her shores. It's Odysseus, on his way home after fighting in Troy for ten years. What is supposed to be a brief stop to repair his ship turns into a year that, in the best Greek fashion impacts both the lives of gods and mortals for generations.

To say that there are layers upon layers upon layers to Circe is an understatement. But what makes the novel so marvelous is that Miller is the perfect guide. You don't need a background in Greek mythology. You don't need to know who Athena, Hermes, Jason, Oceanos, and Aeëtes are because she shows you, with all the skill of a seasoned storyteller. She takes everything that makes Greek mythology so difficult to wade through-the labyrinthine tangle of familial relationships, the battle between Titans and Olympians (Titans are the new kids and Olympians are the old guard), the myriad of slights, snub, hurt feelings, and pranks that clutter every god's life, and makes it not only understandable, but riveting. These are gods, and as such they do whatever they want, whenever they want. Lesser gods and humans are pawns in their games. They are immortal and so

Of all the mortals on earth, there are only a few the gods will ever hear of. Consider the practicalities: by the time we learn their names, they are dead. They must be meteors indeed to catch our attention. The merely good: you are dust to us. Loc 1369

It is only Circe, alone on her island, who is interested in mortals, who cares about them. Maybe because from the time she was an infant her parents considered her to be only a small step up from a human. It is only when her power begins to manifest itself-through work on her part, unlike the gifts of the gods which require no effort-that she is recognized. But even then, it is as a dangerous creature who must be kept apart from the world of both mortals and immortals. The few encounters she has with each are unpleasant and force her to use her potions and spells to protect herself. When Odysseus shows up, she has gained wisdom and control of her actions, but she still falls prey to the oldest of emotions: love.

Despite a captivating cast of hundreds in Circe Miller keeps the spotlight firmly on Circe. Even with Odysseus, it is her story, her perceptions that matter. She may love, but she never loses herself to a man-mortal or god. Even when she is judged from birth as being inordinately ugly, scrawny, meek, and with an unpleasant voice, she acts when she needs to. It may be with the impulsive viciousness of a teenager-as when she turns the beautiful (but kind of slutty) Scylla from a rival into a hideous sea hag with six heads sprouting from her neck and twelve legs hanging from her belly-but hundreds of years later when she is more mature, she has grown into grace and compassion. She may have been banished to a remote island, but time and again, the world comes to her, forcing her to play a part in the lives of gods and men.

Miller is not restrained or struck down by the infinite complexities of Greek mythology. They may be immortal, capable of feats that form the very crux of existence on earth, from pulling the sun across the sky to creating the tides and setting the seasons, but Circe's pull is because of the humanity Miller infuses into the novel. Circe is only a minor deity, largely ignored by her own kind until she crosses them, but she breathes with the full spectrum of mortal emotions, making the novel brilliant reading. Miller is a literary witch and with the spell of Circe she binds readers to the page, unable to look away, transformed by the tale.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ian pratt
Such a great book! You do not need to be a fan of mythology to read this book! This book is dazzling!!!!

Circe is the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans. Her mother, Perse, an Oceanid naiad is beautiful and captivating. Circe is born with a "strange" voice (she sounds like a mortal 0ohhhh the Horror!) and is often ridiculed by her younger siblings. Circe does not appear to have any powers but nevertheless, she is a God and lives in her father's home until she angers Zeus by transforming a nymph into a monster and a man into a creature. She is banished to live alone on an island. It is here, that she hones her true power - that of a witch! She has interactions with many characters, Hermes, the Minotaur (her sister's child), Athena, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, and Odysseus to name a few. She is caught between the world of the Gods and that of mankind.

On her island, she learns the land, befriends the animals and assists sailors - turning some into pigs if they cross her or attempt to harm her. Eventually she has a child and is willing to do anything to protect him from the world and those who would do him harm.

This book is beautifully written and very engaging. I found myself emerged in Crice's world and savored every page. Fiction and mythology blend beautifully to create a spellbinding book that does not disappoint. I'll admit, I'm not that familiar with mythology. I studied what was required in school and have a basic understanding of who is who but nothing in depth. One does not need to know much about mythology to appreciate and enjoy this book. The Author does a great job informing the reader who is who and what job they carry i.e. messenger of the gods, goddess of war, etc. Miller describes the Gods and characters brilliantly. I never felt like she was educating me on who was who. All the information flowed with the story.

As I stated this book was very well written, the story-line is engaging, intelligent and sucked me in. This book is told through Circe's POV and we get an inside glimpse into her thoughts, feelings and emotions. Circe is a very likable character and over the course of time she becomes stronger, not only in her powers, but in herself. Her confidence grows, her judgement improves, she learns some hard lessons and grows as a person/God. She may have been considered a lesser goddess, but she was a strong female character who stood on her own two feet, stood up for herself and showed great bravery where others cowered. Circe is a God, but she is not heartless or cruel. She is strong and thoughtful and very much like a human. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be strong? To be brave? To be a woman living in a man’s world and excelling at it!

Absolutely enjoyable and entertaining! Highly recommend!

Thank you to Little, Brown and Company and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
editrix amy lewis
Thank you to Little Brown for my early copy of CIRCE by Madeline Miller.

When I stumbled upon this title in the fall I was instantly captivated by the cover. Beautiful gold detailing and a simple title: CIRCE. I hadn't read Song of Achilles (it is on my shelves, but alas I haven't made time to read it yet), so I wasn't sure what to expect with Miller's writing style or her approach with the numerous characters and stories in Greek Mythology.

The cast of characters in any Greek myth are long, the gods and goddesses themselves are at once spiteful and forgiving. They play their cruel games and the repercussions resonate through future stories, popping up time and again so that any Greek Myth feels like a culmination of them all (at times). The players are all connected in some way, the gods and goddesses using their deceits and power against each other for fun. Anyone who knows anything about Greek mythology knows this to be true and reading a story like CIRCE is sure to call upon many of the names and places from mythology's most famous legends. Recognizing places, names and events while reading CIRCE was really a delight. It made me reminisce about my high school mythology class and the stories I had long since forgotten about! The Minotaur! Odysseus!

Circe's character may be one of my favorites this year. She is written so well that by the end of the story I was completely enamored with her. A witch with the blood of Helios, a woman who had loved, a mother struggling to protect her child, a young girl blinded by a first love. The facets to this character were many and Miller wrote each layer of Circe's story so well. She made me want to sit on Aiaia with Circe and listen to her stories.

Overall, I believe this story will be one I think about and recommend for a long time. Escaping into the tragedies of the gods, traveling islands and lands of the past and conversing with strange creatures made for such a respite from the literary fiction I had been reading up to this point. And if that isn't reason enough, here is my favorite quote. That last line, how perfect.

"I had no right to claim him, I knew it. 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 was he to me."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lisa martin
This book offers a unique new perspective on the Greek gods. Told from the perspective of Circe, who is the daughter of the Titan Helios and a nymph. She is immortal like a God, but without the powers of one. Later she discovers that she is a witch - something that threatens the gods. While she is looked down upon by the other more powerful gods, both titans and Olympians alike, she ends up playing an important part in some of the best known Greek myths. Rather than focusing on the heroics and vengeance of the typical Greek myths, this book shows the perspective of the "little guy" who tends to be more important than others give them credit for and who can see the other Gods for what they really are. I found this to be a refreshing twist on the classic Greek mythology.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
carole coffman
Madeline Miller has the most gorgeous way with words. From the moment I started reading, I was spellbound. This was definitely an odder book than The Song of Achilles because it dealt so directly with the gods and with their peculiarities- not aging and the passage of time amongst them. So that was a little hard to wrap my head around. But from the beginning I loved Circe herself. Such a dynamic, strong-willed character with hidden depths. I loved the mythological stories and persons woven throughout her tale. And I especially enjoyed the second half of the book once she was on her island- the daily life, the animals, the herbs. There were some surprises for me with the characters and I thought they were well done. She is such a master as drafting three dimensional people. And Ms. Miller somehow manages to write the perfect ending, again. It left me very satisfied and wanting to dive back into her words. I'm not sure if I loved it as much as TSOA but it stands very well on its own merits. I can't wait to see what she writes next, I'll read anything!

My favorite line: "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 was he to me."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lvzer1
Thank you to Little Brown & Co for my free copy of CIRCE for review! All opinions are my own.

This was one of my most anticipated reads for 2018 and yes, it’s worth all of the hype. No, you don’t need to read her other book SONG OF ACHILLES first, but you’ll definitely want to after you get a taste of Madeleine Miller’s writing.

Ok, I will admit, I have always felt a sort of distancing element when reading mythology. I’ve just historically had trouble connecting with it. I don’t know if it’s that I’m a girl who LOVES a character-driven plot and there are so many characters that we know what they did but never get any insight into their psyches. Or perhaps that there are SO many stories but not enough details. Or maybe it’s the almost fantasy-genre feel to it (another area I tend to suffer attention-lapses in), but Miller completely dispatches with that for me in her careful “human”izing of every single one of her characters. Despite my usual reticence with mythology, I did know that I would find this one more appealing in that it was a focus on the witch, Circe, from the Odyssey. That, to me, was already sort of a novel and different focus -the kind anti-heroine approach.

Also, I read this at the precise right time in my life. I had been dealing with a kind of bullying issue in my personal life (more on that in a later essay in the blog perhaps), but I felt endeared to Circe in her fight to defend her self-worth. Miller explores themes of isolation and writes an inspiring example of how to draw on our inner reserves of strength and trust ourselves when we are at our absolute lowest.

I so appreciated the strong, opinionated, fiery but fair, flawed but sensitive woman that Miller portrays in this outcast witch. This is exactly the kind of feminist read that we need right now.

*3 words: exotic, empowering, lush

*what I loved: all of these encounters with more minor mythological characters and their stories that were expanded upon and grown into great, expansive, imaginative epic events

*what I questioned: how does she do it? No more questions here.

*overall rating: all the stars. All. (5) Go out and buy it, don’t borrow it, you need to own this one.

**Find my bookish posts and reviews on Instagram at @mlleboaz.bibliophile !!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
narmada
This book was very enjoyable and I really hope that there are more like it in the future. It really brings the Gods to life (and the naiads, nymphs, monsters, heroes, ect.)
This book tells the story of the witch Circe, and how she came to be, both as a nymph and as a witch exiled on the Island of Aiaiai by Gods afraid of her power to make men immortal, and to transform immortals into monsters.

I love how Circe embraces her power as sorceress and witch. She carefully considers each plant, each flower, and tries to distill its essence and capture its power. She's a woman who is not afraid to find her power by getting her hands and feet dirty. She is so often scored for not being beautiful enough, smart enough, or singing good enough, that there's a moment in the book when she's really come into her power through sheer effort and determination, and she's like "What can they throw at me that I can't beat?" that made me really just love her and totally accept her as the quintessential witch. She has a casual sexual relationship with Hermes that is quite open, and he keeps her apprised of what is happening with the Gods.

The story takes the reader past the exile and into the stories of the Minotaur, Jason & Medea, and Oddyseus.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nolen
Family dysfunction, sibling rivalry, whacko parents, unrequited love, remorse for vengefulness due to jealousy and unrequited love, and the monsters we create and cherish. All this is packed into Madeline Miller’s fantastic (and I mean that literally) prose, using mythical gods and goddesses.

Odysseus is a fully formed man in this novel about how our human foibles play out and it’s all seen through the eyes of Circe, a woman in exile, a single mother, a powerful witch whose bravery has nothing to do with magic.

Author Madeline Miller is thirty-nine years old and could pass for a simple “pretty girl” in her twenties if she chose. But in this epic, she leads with her ancient heart and her hefty classical education steeped in what feels like a love affair of many lifetimes with her subject: the human mess writ large through ancient characters that she brings to life anew with a wild imagination and impeccable technique. Her descriptions are out of this world and the ending makes you feel the inexpressible joy and gratitude of being mortal in this crazy world we live in.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sean greenberg
I think I'm one of the only people who hasn't read Song of Achilles, and so I jumped at the chance to read Circe. I thought the idea of giving Circe her own story a marvelous idea and couldn't wait to jump in. Unfortunately, I found most of the book to be rather boring. While I really liked Circe and was rooting for her, the pacing was so slow. I confess I ended up skimming most of the second half just to see how it ended. It is beautifully written, and I know others are loving it, but I just don't have the patience right now for a book that doesn't grab me and have me burning through the pages.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
akenji
This book is the imagined autobiography of a minor goddess (a Nymph, or in ancient Greek "wife," a helpful aside from the book) who lives a long, interesting life full of events including her main claim to fame, hosting Odysseus and (temporarily) turning his crew into pigs. Circe is made into a courageous, thoughtful, purposeful and admirable person/goddess whose life includes encounters with numerous players of Greek mythology, e.g., with Medea and Jason after the golden fleece affair. We see her make herself into a witch (or pharmakis--I greatly enjoyed the translations provided). A good deal of the story involves the Odysseus connection in which we see the central figures fleshed out in surprising ways and we are caused to understand that the "realities" of gods and mortals have unexpected twists. I loved this story and am delighted to have met Miller's Circe and to have observed the gods and mortals of her invention.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
solange
I love Son of Achilles but did not want to compare them to each other so it took me a bit to write this review. Other reviewers have given summaries so I do not want to retread that ground. Circe is well written and informative. I love Greek Mythology so I really liked how it was put in chronology. For the lay reader is hard to know what comes first. The places came to life without it being wordy. The tale of Icarus became not just a story but and account of what happened to someone we know and liked. I like the way the author made the women powerful within the limitations of the times. Of course, being powerful in these tales sometimes meant being cruel for both men and women.

Now comes the hard part. I really did not like Circe the character. At the same time, I am trying to be openminded. She is not likeable but would any god/goddess be? Why do I expect better from her and not from the other Titans and Olympians which were also unlikeable? At the same time the others seemed more interesting. By being interesting do I forgive them more readily?

I could not decide if she was stupid, naïve or insane, probably all three. We are told that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Throughout the book she keeps on telling others that her family will punish them for hurting her. They are the first ones that ignore her and treat her badly so I do not know why she is surprised when they act as expected. And this happens throughout the book with various characters. She is supposed to be over a 1000-years-old, you would think she would have gained a little wisdom by then but not until the very end does she seem to find some
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
corlostforwords
CIRCE by Madeline Miller is an amazing novel, inspired by Homer's THE ODYSSEY but drawing on a female child, a "minor" goddess, and retelling a famous tale of gods and mortals through her eyes. Circe is not powerful like her father, Helios, but she has a gift of sorcery, transformation, and she dares use it in defiance--an act that results in her being banished forever to an uninhabited island named Aiaia. Still defiant, Circe masters witchcraft on the island, as she lives in the company of lions and wolves. Visitors arrive, and through her contact with humans, Circe learns from them and comes to understand what her own life is all about. In a world of powerful men, she stands indomitable and alone. A real page-turner that you won't quickly forget, CIRCE is part mythology, part adventure, part love story, and with a touch of philosophy for good measure.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jerry aguinaldo
Despite being a classics aficionado, I wasn't a huge fan of Miller's first book, The Song of Achilles, even though a lot of my friends raved other it. Her prose doesn't have the sharp, careful edges that I prefer, especially since what survives of the Greek and Roman classics feels so finely wrought the hands of the right translators . Her feminist take comes comes at an apt time, politically. But prose mixes phrases that harken back to classic syntax with other word choices that seem to be cut from popular contemporary romance. The clash made me wince (and I have nothing against contemporary romance and read it sometimes -- I just don't like how Miller's attempt to meld the two worlds is incomplete). I enjoyed Circe more than her first book, but ultimately don't know if the effort has enough intrinsic aesthetic merit to recommend to others.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
benedicte
Circe was my April Book of the Month club pick, and WOW was it epic. I haven't read Song of Achilles, but I just put a hold on it with my library, because this book was amazing. So amazing, in fact, that it sent me into a bit of a reading slump - what book could follow up this masterwork?

This is actually going to be a pretty short review because I'm just in awe of this book. Circe begins as a somewhat naive child in her father's household, unaware of her own power until her brother points it out to her. For those powers, she is banished to a deserted island, but her powers only grow from there. We meet many figures of Greek mythology - from gods and goddesses to mortals and monsters like Scylla and the Minotaur.

I just don't even know how to properly review this book other than it was amazing. If you like Greek mythology at ALL, you should read this book. It's captivating.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nilam suri
Simply an amazing novel. For anyone who loves Greek mythology, this is the novel for you. Circe is all about the witch from Homer’s Odyssey, who turned men into pigs for invading her island and her peace. However, there’s more to it than that. Circe gives readers a history of the characters as well as a place in the Greek pantheon. There is magic and wonder on every page and a tone that makes the narrative incredibly relatable.

Often an overlooked character who has been made famous by a series of scenes in a novel, this novel gives this incredibly powerful character a history that gives her a place in modern literature, a place in history past this, a woman who was “tamed” by a lost sailor. As such a compelling character, her representation never seemed to do her justice, casting her like a lovesick woman, a lonely woman, or even as a villain. None of these representations ever gave this character the proper representation, and now there is finally a novel that takes all those representations and gives them some context, adding in complexities and depth.

There’s so much going into this novel, bringing in famous characters from mythology to show the importance of Circe’s role in mythology. The first daughter of Helios, a titan of the Sun, not to be confused with the God of the Sun, Circe was often overlooked as ordinary with a voice was more mortal than it was godly. Her voice and perception ultimately made her the back sheep of the family, often teased and often overlooked by her family. Moreover, from her perspective, this did not bother her much. There’s so much depth to the characterization of the story and the dynamics. They turn Circe into an incredibly relatable character, a compelling character whose own hubris and naïve understanding of the gods mark her falling. Hubris is shown often in Greek mythology, the hero always falls to their hubris, but in Circe’s case, it is more complicated than that. She does not understand quite what it means to be arrogant, powerful, dangerous, or naïve. Again, she was an overlooked character in much of mythology, as well as by her family in this novel, so it takes her time to find herself. However, this does not make her villain; it makes her human, mortal, complicated. Moreover, that is part of the reason why this novel is compelling. Circe is such a compelling character not just because of the power she has within herself which everyone underestimated, but because of her personality.

Circe has not exactly had a comfortable life, it has been hard and emotionally abusive, but she came through all those hardships and used them to influence her, to make her better than everyone around her. This lends itself to incredible character development; it allows her perception to see beyond the pain, to see the hope and beyond. This is something many stories before hands have neglected to show. Circe is powerful, but it does not define her. She does not let anything define her. As a feminist read, this is a great one, because it gives rise to her perspective in a man’s world, this story gives her influence in history and Greek mythology while also delivering a multidimensional character.

Circe is amazing. The character development and her journey is so incredibly compelling. It is a story full of magic and wonder that will inevitably draw in every reader.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
rachel long
For months now I've seen the gorgeous cover of Madeline Miller's Circe gracing the screen of my phone though countless bookstagram posts, advertisements, and glowing reviews. When I had the chance to read the book as an advanced copy, I passed. It was classified as "women's fiction", so I didn't think it would appeal to me. I'm definitely not the target audience for "women's fiction". Still, I couldn't escape the allure of Miller's novel. Plus, it is 2018. Isn't women's fiction just fiction? Why do we have the need to differentiate? The cover became such a fixture of my awareness that I just had to see what all the fuss was about.

Born among gods and titans, Circe is not like the rest of her family. She is not all powerful as her father Zeus is, but she does have some powers of her own. Specifically, Circe is able to use witchcraft, a feat that scares the gods. She is banished to a deserted island and is forced to live a life of solitude. Rather than wallow in her misfortunes, Circe uses the moment to hone her skills and become more powerful.

Along the way, Circe is forced to face the best and worst sides of both humanity and mythology. She sees and experiences true love, family, and parenthood. She also sees the brutal evils of lust, anger, and war. Circe's story soon intertwines with some of the more familiar tales of Greek mythology. I was particularly drawn to her interactions with the legendary Odyseuss.

Circe by Madeline Miller is a sprawling epic that plays like a greatest hits of Greek mythology. Miller carves a spot for her character amongst some of the better and lesser known myths from the time. Several times I had to pause to research some of the stories to see what Miller was drawing on. Miller elevates her story by placing Circe into moments that force her to face normal human emotions and challenges. By giving her character and empathetic soul, Miller brings the gods and legends down to a level that all readers can relate to.

Despite the ambitious story that spans global history, I couldn't help but feel disconnected from large portions of the novel. Given all of the positive reviews this book received, I was surprised to find myself longing for more from it. Too often, Miller's characters simply tell the epic stories. This makes them removed from the action. Although I can't give Circe the unbridled support that others have, I certainly appreciate the scope and depth that it sets out to present.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
janssen
Madeline Miller’s Circe is a gorgeous exploration of the human condition as studied by a distinctly nonhuman protagonist. At the heart of this saga is the titular character, an unexceptional nymph turned powerful witch, and the narrative arc is one of personal development and supposed female empowerment. Circe’s life before and after her exile to the island of Aeaea is explored at a languid pace in this beautiful reimagining of Greek mythology.
The language and lyricism of this tale are exemplary. The prose is lush and poetic, the similes striking and vivid. Circe is literary fiction at its best, and Miller’s talent is stunning. This is rich text meant to be savored and recited aloud, and for that aspect alone it is well worth the read. The pace of the story is one that echoes the Homeric epics, and though the tale lagged in places, the main stylistic issue is the number of subplots recounted in a secondhand retelling. Instead of an active narrative, the reader is given a plethora of characters who recount other characters’ adventures. Though Circe’s story is the heart of the tale, a number of Greek myths play out in the background of the story.
Circe as a character is complex and nuanced, insightful and clever. The powerful enchantress who populates the classic myths is still present here, fully fleshed, morally ambiguous, and utterly humane. She is caught between two worlds, that of humans and that of the gods. Her astute observations of both provide a pointed glimpse into what it means to be human, in all of our fallacies and weaknesses.
At heart, Miller’s reimagining of Circe is a bittersweet, poignant observation of what it is to be a woman. The author has done a superb job of bringing an ancient world to life and giving it relevancy to this modern era. This story is both an ode to the Greek classics and a pointed feminist criticism of the old poets. “Humbling women seems to be a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.” This work could have been a brilliant feminist masterpiece. It could have been a lyrical, erudite rebuttal of the old poets’ vilification of a complex woman, and it could have been a message of empowerment. It succeeds on the first point with a vanquished witch given a heroine’s sage. But it fails in the second point, because Circe's feeling of fulfillment in her long, long life hinges on men. The message I come away with is not that this woman is a force to be reckoned with but that she wanted and needed to be loved by a man. Men are the linchpin of Circe’s existence, and her choice in the end left me dissatisfied. As a feminist masterpiece, this falls short, but it is a gorgeously rendered tale of the sharp, painful facets of womanhood.
Rich with meaning and feeling, Madeline Miller’s Circe is a compelling reinterpretation of mythology. The author’s talent lends a fresh, brilliant voice to the classics. This is an intricate character drama, a sweeping female saga, and an exploration of what it is to love.
Recommended for those who enjoy mythology, reimagined classics, literary fiction, and stories that explore the nuances of being a woman
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
quittersalwayswin
Circe is a demigod, daughter of the Sun God Helios and a water nymph. Unfortunately, her human side is prominent enough that she is considered less than her siblings and ignored by her parents. As she grows up, she discovers that she does have a power though; the power of witchcraft. After she uses it to change one of the other nymphs in her father's household into the monster Scylla, she is given a sentence of eviction and isolation on an island with no one else to talk to.

Alone on her island prison, Circe grows into her own personality. She gardens and gathers herbs and poisons and refines her spells and witchcraft. She tames the wild animals who become her friends and guardians. When she is threatened by visitors who would harm her, she uses her magic to turn those who would hurt her into animals. She is occasionally allowed to leave. She goes to her sister's household to help her deliver her child but even Circe is shocked when that baby turns out to be the Minotaur. Circe even has occasional lovers such as Daedalus and Odysseus and the god Hermes. After Odysseus' death, his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, come to the island to live with Circe. She also has a son, Telegony, who she is determined to protect against all else.

Circe fights her surroundings and imprisonment over the ages to determine who she really is and which part of her, the goddess or the human, should she strive to be. Finally, love makes that decision for her and she leaves to live the life that will finally satisfy her.

Madeline Miller has made the classics the central theme of her life. Both her undergraduate and graduate degrees were in the classics and she spends her time adapting the old stories for a modern audience to great success. Her first novel, The Song Of Achilles, helped her burst into success and this newest novel continues that path. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
steve markley
This book was excellent! Miller’s writing is captivating and I loved how she wrote Circe’s character.

I really enjoy Greek (and Roman) mythology, but it tends to be a subject/genre I forget about. Like fairytales, myths can be sparse when it comes to character development and setting. I usually find myself wanting more details and Circe hits the spot.

Circe is stubbornly ignorant, determined and altogether too kind-hearted for her brethren. She’s scorned by her family for her “mortal” voice, which sounds shrill compared to the booming, commanding voices of the other gods. She doesn’t seek to scheme or gain power and most of her family looks down on her or flat-out ignores her. But when she meets a mortal on the beach, she finds companionship for the first time. It’s easy to see why she would fall in love, given how she was raised. Her refusal to see how things truly are persists throughout much of the novel, causing her grief – but I loved that. Yes, sometimes I wanted to smack her, but it made her relatable…human even! Considering the book is told from her POV and centers around her life, I’m glad I found her an enjoyable character. I really cared for her.

Despite Circe’s banishment, we do get to see more than just her island. Familiar tales weave their way around her life, including Troy, the isle where the Minotaur lives (totally forget the name and I’m not looking it up, deal with it) and of course, the halls of Helios.

There’s a wide cast of characters too and they all felt so real! I loved seeing the gods and the myths fleshed out. I’m no pro when it comes to mythology, but it felt like Miller added realistic details to the old tales and stayed true to their roots. I don’t care how much she’s embellished; it’s clear she’s done research and is passionate about mythology.

If you like Greek mythology, character journeys, magic, romance, drama, feels and female leads then I highly recommend you pick up Circe! I, for one, can’t wait to read more of Miller’s work.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
steph glier
Along with a few Sunday school stories and fairy tales, Greek myths were some of the first stories that I was exposed to. Before I knew anything at all about hobbits or Jesus lions, I could recite the names of all the Olympians and a few of the Titans. Jason and Theseus and Hercules and Perseus were way more familiar to little-Me than Robin Hood or Wyatt Earp or Frodo. As I got older and read more of the myths, plays, and poems of ancient Greece, unedited, I became a bit uncomfortable with the casual sexism and idiotic violence of it all. Other, later works, like the Aeneid, proved deeper, prettier, and more intellectually stimulating than the Bronze Age Greek stuff. Nevertheless, I have always had a special place in my heart for the old tales.

Therefore, this book was an absolute delight. It tells the “life” story of Circe, the premier witch of ancient Greek myth, from Circe’s point of view, but with a more feminist, modern-morality perspective.

I have found a solid chunk of the “From the Antagonist’s Point of View” type of stories to be downright terrible. They typically change the stories in order to shoehorn in a “the villain was really the hero – or at least not that bad – the whole time!” message. Usually they are poorly written, poorly plotted claptrap designed to cash in on the popularity of the original stories.

Circe ain’t like that. The author includes, unchanged, the major events of the myths involving Circe. The only changes are that instead of the spotlight being on the goals and objectives of the male heroes, as song by male poets, it remains on Circe, with all of her fears, hopes, insecurities, inconsistencies, regrets, and motivations laid bare. She is a real “person” (as much a person as a minor, immortal god can be) with real feelings.

The author vividly tells Circe’s story with straightforward, easy-to-read prose, such that the book is a fast read. I do not mean to imply, however, that the writing is simplistic. It’s very pretty, and the language exudes a certain poetic complexity that would entertain readers for multiple re-reads. I think it would be a great book for YA readers looking to try out more “literary” offerings. Fantasy aficionados should also really enjoy this book, too, with its epic sweep. It’s got gods, monsters, heroes, magic, and adventure.

I enjoyed this book so much, I bought and read all of the other books written by this author. I can’t really think of higher praise than that.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sara hadley
When I finished reading this book, I felt a deep reluctance to have to take leave of what was truly a wondrous, fantastic, and engaging story. "CIRCE" had become more than a story rooted in myth; it became real in my consciousness.

Before reading this novel, what little I knew about Circe came from the Edith Hamilton book 'Mythology' I had read in high school. That book conveyed to me a vengeful and capricious enchantress (somehow the word 'witch' never entered my consciousness, perhaps because I always imagined Circe to be alluring and beautiful - as well as powerful) who took a dim view to mortals coming to her island. So much so, that many a marooned sailor upon meeting Circe was transformed by her into a snorting pig.

But through reading this fantastic novel, I came to learn so much more about Circe and her origins. Daughter of Helios the Titan god of the Sun and the nymph Perses, she grew up in a family that thought little of her and didn't expect much from her. Yet, unlike her immortal siblings, Circe had some humility and compassion about her that showed that she had a heart. With the passage of time, Circe went on to do something that, as an immortal, she shouldn't have done. It probably would've been to her benefit to lie or simply not speak to anyone of what she had done. But one of the things I found remarkable about Circe was her willingness to speak truth to power (in her case, her father, who had never hid his disdain for her), and to bear the punishment imposed on her by Zeus. That meant eternal exile on the deserted island of Aiaia. And there is where Circe - through the centuries - came truly into her own, honing "her occult craft" and "tam[ing] wild beasts."

Madeline Miller has an amazing skill in crafting prose that breathes life -in all its richness and complexity - into this novel. She relates in compelling detail the varied adventures Circe had, as well as the encounters she had with a number of the gods and mortals (including Odysseus with whom Circe would eventually enter into an intimate relationship) who ventured to her island. There were also some unexpected surprises that I'll leave to the reader of this review to discover for him/herself. (No spoilers here.)

This is a novel that once read you'll want to read again. IT IS AMAZING.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
katie schroeder
Fully appreciating life means putting it in perspective, which requires it having certain limitations, but an immortal god doesn't have much fear of their life ending. In Madeline Miller's Circe, the experiences of the titular character's life allows her to contemplate humanity from her godly exile.

Circe, the daughter of a powerful Titan Helios, has always been considered strange among the gods, not quite fitting in with their exploits. Looking for companionship and comfort instead from mortals, despite their abbreviated lifespan, she comes to learn where her true power lies - in witchcraft powerful and mysterious enough to confound the gods. As punishment for the harm she's inflicted on a nymph by turning her into a monster, Zeus and Helios see fit to exile Circe to a remote island, where she has the time and opportunity to hone her skills and she encounters many beings of myth, including Icarus, the Minotaur, and Odysseus. Drawn into plots of humans and gods, Circe has to collect her strength and will to protect what she loves and decide in which world, mortal or god, she belongs.

Deftly weaving the familiar tales of Greek mythology into a tale of humanity's influence in the life of a goddess, this novel explores the truths of life through the lens of mythic beings while also making the classic mythologies more accessible to a new audience. A well-written complex character, Circe's thoughts and experiences elicit sympathy from the reader as she traverses relatable and familiar, if fantastic, situations, demonstrating the universality of these experiences and emotions. Epic in time spanned, the story covers a lot of territory, yet some portions, especially those that were merely recounting of familiar mythological tales instead of being immersed in the tale, dragged a bit slowly.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
thomas vaultonburg
The relationships between the ancient Greek deities – Titans, Olympians, naiads or nymphs, demi-gods who are offsprings of a divinity and a mortal, etc – is complicated and there are many different versions of them. Madeline Miller doesn’t make it any easier; so it takes some time before the book gets under way and becomes gripping. It is not clear to me whether Miller has invented some crucial episodes herself or whether she has drawn them from one of the many different sources about Circe. At any rate, I cannot find some of these episodes in the several books I have on Greek mythology or on the internet.

The story is told by Circe, who has very “human” emotions and endures much suffering at the hands of the inhuman gods. She is a naiad, daughter of the Titan sun-god Helios and the naiad Perse. In the novel’s first episode, she witnesses the Zeus’ punishment of her uncle Prometheus, which, initially, is different from the traditional story of being chained to a rock and daily having his liver eaten by an eagle. She risks trying to help him.

Because, unlike the other nymphs, Circe is plain-looking and has an ugly voice, she does not believe she will be allowed to marry a deity. She thinks she has no power. She falls in love with the mortal Glaucos. She manages to make him immortal (I must not reveal how). But he then falls in love with the beautiful but malicious nymph Scylla, who flirted with him but did not love him. Circe (by the same method) turns Scylla into a monstrous creature living in a rock opposite another rock under which lived another whirlpool-creating monster called Charybdis. Sailors are trapped as they pass through the narrow passage between the two rocks, and are devoured by Scylla. However, disposing of Scylla did not bring Glaucos back to Circe. She was told that the transformations of Glaucos and Scylla were none of her doing – but it emerged that she did indeed have such power, and that her siblings - her brothers Perses and Aeëtes and her sister Pasiphaë - have it also. They were all “pharmakis”: sorcerers or witches. But because Circe had used her powers against her own kind, she was exiled by her father Helios to the deserted but verdant island of Aiaia, which scholars think was off the west coast of Italy.

There, she is soon surprisingly content. She teaches herself skills that, as a nymph, she never had to use; and she experiments with various plants and, by trial and error, learns how to extract their magic transformative power. One of those plants, moly, can protect against evil. And she could tame wild animals.

She is often visited by the god Hermes who became her lover.

One day Daedalus, the great craftsman, arrives on the island in a ship. He is a mortal employed by Circe’s sister Pasiphaë and her husband King Minos of Crete, the mortal son of Zeus. Daedalus brings the message that Circe is summoned by her sister, who had heard of Circe’s magic, to assist the pregnant Queen to give birth, and that for that purpose her exile on the island was being temporarily lifted. (Knowing how spiteful and malevolent her sister was, towards her and towards everyone else, it is surprising that she heeded her summons. This is one of the episodes I can’t find anywhere else.) But the passage from the island to Crete has to go through the dangerous channel between Scylla and Charybdis (believed to be the Straits of Messina). Circe’s magic saw the ship through the peril.

Arrived in Knossos, she and Daedalus help to deliver the Queen of the monstrous Minotaur: a dramatic and horrifying scene. After a while, and after many insults from her sister, Circe was glad to be allowed to return to her island. Hermes continues to visit her there and to tell her of what happened in Crete after she left: of the labyrinth that Daedalus built to contain the Minotaur, of the story of Icarus, of the sacrifices made to the Minotaur, and of those of Theseus and of Ariadne.

The next ship to arrive at Circe’s island bore Jason and Medea. Medea is Circe’s niece, the daughter of her brother Aeëtes, now King of Colchis, owner of a golden fleece which, with Medea’s help, Jason had stolen from him and had sailed away with it. When Aeëtes had pursued the thieves, Medea had killed her brother whom they had taken hostage and threw pieces of him into the sea, forcing Aeëtes to give up the chase to give the pieces burial. (Much later she will be told the rest of the story of Medea and Jason.)

Several more ships arrive, their captains and crews planning violence against a woman all alone on the island. Circe turns them into pigs. She has done this to one crew when its captain, Odysseus, disembarked to look for them. He and his crew are the remnants of a fleet of twelve ships that are on their long and perilous journey back from the Trojan war, pursued by gods he had offended, who included his former protectress, Athena. He is the great-grandson of Hermes, who had told him of Circe’s spells, but has also supplied him with the protective herb moly. He wins Circe’s trust; she turned his crew back into men and took him to her bed. They stayed for several months; but eventually, to Circe’s sorrow, they set sail for Odysseus’ home on Ithaca, knowing what further perils awaited them on that journey.

When they had gone, Circe, after a long and painful pregnancy, gave birth to Odysseus’ son, Telegonus. Somehow, she defied Athena, who wanted the child dead there and then. Circe’s magic builds a protective shield around the island which even Athena cannot breach. She is totally devoted to the child, although for his first six years he was difficult, screaming and rebellious. But then he calmed down. When he was thirteen years old, she told him of his father, talking only of his good qualities, and hiding from him all the treacherous cruelties she knows he had committed during the Trojan War. Telegonus could never hear enough of him. When he was sixteen, he had built a ship: he had been visited by Hermes who promised to keep him safe on a journey to Ithaca to see his father. Reluctantly Circe let him go, after having secured for him from a sea monster called Trygon (the name of a stingray) a poisoned spine with which she tipped Telegonus’ spear.

Soon Telegonus is back with the grim news that Odysseus had contested his landing on Ithaca and had been killed by the poisoned spear. Telegonous brings with him Odysseus’ widow Penelope and their son Telemachus. Telemachus tells Circe that Odysseus could not bear the quiet life; he had vented his murderous rages on many citizens of Ithaca and was contemptuous and suspicion of Telemachus himself, whom he suspected of plotting against him. After Odysseus’ death, there was no future on Ithaca for Penelope and Telemachus. They bore no ill will towards Telegonus, so he had brought them with him to Aiaia.

The end is odd: Athena demands that Telemachus should return to Ithaca to rule it. He refuses. Athena then demands the same of Telegonus and he accepts. Sadly, Circe sees him go. Somehow she extorts her freedom from her father Helios, and leaves Aiaia together with Telemachus. One last encounter with Scylla and Charybdis and Scylla finally dies. From time to time they return to Aiaia, where they had left Penelope who herself has learnt witchery crafts. (I can find none of the events in this paragraph in my books or on the internet.) She marries Telemachus and they have two daughters. She seems content at last. But I find the end unclear with regard to both narrative and meaning.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
delanea
Circe

My synopsis: Circe, daughter of Perse and Helios, was born “less than pleasing” and thus was neglected by her mother, father, and siblings. In her desire to love and be loved, she discovered a hidden talent: witchcraft. Threatened by her power – for Helios was a proud god, and Zeus, even more so – Circe was banished to the island of Aiaia. Isolated from everyone, she cultivated her art, cursed insolent mortals, raised her child, and stood against the gods.

Madeline Miller proves once again that she is a master weaver of words – she gives us Circe – a tale of a fierce woman, a daughter and a sister spurned, a goddess who is incredibly human, a formidable witch, a mother. It is a tale of self-discovery, of love lost, of motherhood, and of the power of love. The underlying sensuality of Miller’s prose is deeply captivating, and ultimately, it left me bewitched, charmed, and enchanted – as if Circe herself has put a spell on me.

Another thing I really appreciated were Miller’s apt characterizations: even with just one or two appearances within the text, told only in Circe’s point of view, in a couple of sentences here and there, the characters are complete. It is admirable and very difficult to achieve; I’ve read books where the author isn’t able to present a coherent or sound main character within the span of the entire work, let alone its secondary characters.

There were plenty of themes represented, but most of all, I found that I was drawn most to Circe’s tale of motherhood. This is surprising to me, because I’m not a mother myself, but I think that Miller paints such an accurate picture of being a mother – the hardships, the sacrifices, the heartbreak, the unfathomable love. I think what made it so fascinating is that it isn’t expected at all in a story about gods and goddesses. Often, it’s about a story of a god or a goddess and their numerous children.

Ultimately, what made Miller’s version of Circe so interesting, is that instead of exploring the goddess side of Circe, Miller presented a very human account of Circe’s tale: even in her immortality and formidable power, Circe is compassionate, she craved companionship, and she admitted her weaknesses.

Circe is for lovers of mythology, of strong female protagonists, and simply, it is for lovers of beautiful prose. If you liked The Song of Achilles, I can’t imagine you not liking Circe – I really liked The Song of Achilles, but I loved Circe!

***Thank you Little, Brown & Company for my review copy!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nardin haikl
“Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.”

Circe was excellent. Miller’s use of language is masterful, the story is unique and attention-grabbing, and the combination of the two is powerful.

The book is written in Circe’s first person. Rather than simply starting at the beginning and moving through, her narration feels more like you’re sitting beside her near a fireplace while she tells you the story of her life. Interjections along the lines of “if only I had known then what I know now” make this clear and keep you engaged, always looking out toward the end and wondering how you’ll get there.

She starts the story at her birth and details a terrible childhood in the halls of her Titan father, Helios. The picture she paints of these gods is one of coldness, selfishness, arrogance, and abuse. It takes her a while to figure out that she does not need to stand for this treatment, although small events show that the strength and confidence she needs do exist inside her.

“I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open.”

Eventually one of these small moments earns her exile to the beautiful island of Aiaia, where she begins to grow into herself and learn how the world can be both lovely and cruel. Interactions with both gods and mortals—including characters like Hermes, Minos, Dedalus, Jason and Medea, and Odysseus, for example—shape her, destroy her, build her back up, and more. The longer she lives, the more she comes to love the mortals she meets and the world they live in.

We are taken through so many phases of her life, from childhood to confidence to loneliness to abuse-driven cruelty to quiet acceptance to strength. The integration of so many characters and stories from Greek mythology make the book even more interesting, as we are almost getting the “true story” behind these myths—the good, the bad, and the really ugly. Throughout, her portrayal of the women is the best part. We get a side of the story that shows them as strong, fierce beings—some good and some bad, but always round and complex—rather than the edited version all the male poets have “chosen” to portray.

“It is a 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.”

This book was so well-done. Because it was written in the first-person of Circe, the phrasing is god-like but also relatable, which makes it sort of hypnotizing and really enjoyable to read. I loved it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
matt dague
You would think a book about a female banished to solitary confinement on an island in the middle of an ocean for hundreds of years would be boring.

It wasn't.

Although the timeline for the book is thousands (?) of years long, the story is still gripping. Circe is sincere, serious, and insignificant in a court of conniving, powerful gods, Titans, nymphs, and other mythological beings. The characters who flit in and out of her life are familiar - Hermes, Daedalus, Odysseus - and unfamiliar - Glaucos, Oceanos, Perse. And although Circe spends most of the book being acted upon, she never feels like a victim.

Immortal Circe is the perennial odd man out in her family; not as beautiful as her older brother and sister, not as crafty as her younger brother, not as powerful as any of them. But although everyone - including Circe - underestimates her, she does what none of them do: she asks questions.

When she sees Prometheus just before he is damned to his eternal punishment, she asks him why he'd give up so much for mortals. His answer shapes the rest of her long life.

All of Circe's troubles stem from her goodness, her straightforwardness. She falls in love with a mortal and turns him into a god, and he immediately forsakes her. She gets revenge on the female he chooses over her, with DISASTROUS consequences, and is banished to an island for...ever.

But the island is where she finds her freedom. The island is where she finds her power.

I loved watching Circe progress as a person, loved watching her find herself. She is at times lonely, desperate, depressed; but she is also powerful and strong and fearless. She has a son by Odysseus and I have NEVER RELATED MORE to a character than I did when she described what it was like being a mother. (Hint: it sounded EXHAUSTING.)

And just in case I'm making this book sound boring - it wasn't. There was a lot of action in this book, including one scene that had me so nervous that I was skimming just to make sure everyone made it out okay!

The writing was EXCELLENT. Miller did an amazing job describing everything - she went on just long enough that I could see it, but not so long that I got bored. Every word was exactly the right word. (Honestly, with writing like this, I don't care about the plot. I could just keep reading indefinitely because it's such a joy to experience such good writing.)

Not to say that the plot suffered at all. Circe is an epic of sorts, even though she doesn't go on a journey. The adventures come to her, and she triumphs. There was just enough invention beyond the retellings that the book never felt dull.

No spoilers, but the ending was PERFECT.

Books where people have to choose between mortality and immortality always drive me crazy. (I'm looking at you, Tuck Everlasting.) The ending NEVER MAKES SENSE TO ME AND I ALWAYS WANT TO SCREAM AT THE CHARACTERS. OBVIOUSLY YOU CHOOSE IMMORTALITY, DUM DUM.

But Circe's ending was perfect down to the letter.

I want all the best things for Circe, and I think Madeline Miller did too. This book gets an easy five out of five from me.

Highly recommend to people who want to like Greek mythology but can't get into it because most of the adventures come at the expense of (lots and lots of) females. Highly recommend to people who like coming-of-age books. Highly recommend to people who like to see a character go from helpless to TOTALLY IN CHARGE OF EVERYTHING. Highly recommend to people who like smart, sarcastic voices.

Warning for people who get triggered by sexual violence: there is one scene in particular that might be difficult for a sexual assault survivor to read - but just one. Circe's reaction after this scene might be cathartic for you, but that's for you to decide.

Don't recommend to people who need their books to be breakneck paced.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ali mohebi
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Title: Circe
Author: Madeline Miller

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.

Initial thoughts:
I have read through Miller’s Song of Achilles and I had loved the history that had come out of the rotting of such a well known story. So, when I learned that Circe was coming out, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I knew a little about Circe from my past with Greek mythology, but I knew I was going to learn much more about her through this book.

Plot:
What I liked:
I loved how Madeline Miller described things in this tale. She spun her words much like magic throughout and I found myself falling into the details entranced by them. It felt like the tale was alive and I could see all that was happening in my head. I also loved the intricacies of the characters from such ancient myths. She brought them to life and allowed me to understand them from a different perspective than what I had read before. The story was well researched and addressed so many different myths Circe was a part of and allowed the reader to

What I didn't like:
My like how I felt when I read the Song of Achilles, Circe had a pace that felt slow at times. I found myself having to reread sections to keep back up and fully grasp everything that was happening as well.

Characters:
Circe: Being the main character, I found it really interesting to watch her growth throughout the entire book. She was such a fun character to get to know better.
Odysseus: His wit was what made him stand out within this book as well as his madness in the end. I loved how this book spoke about his life in mostly flashbacks and stories that Circe was told.
Penelope: I have always liked her. She is very cunning much like her husband.
Telemachus: I am glad that I got to know more about him through this book. I didn’t know much about Telemachus other than through the story of Odysseus, but I loved the extra part of his life that we got to glimpse.
Telegonus: He was such a wild child and I loved him. He really was a sweet boy and I am glad that he and Circe had a good relationship with one another.
Daedalus: I thought that he was wonderful. He was brilliant and the love he had for his son was evident in this beautiful story.
Hermes: I loved him. Madeline captured his trickery and lies in her story and he was such a fun character to read every time he appeared within the book.
Athena: I have always enjoyed reading about Athena. She has seemed much like a level headed immortal in many stories that I have read of her, but this showed a darker side of her that I liked as well. I thought it was interesting to read.
Helios: He was an interesting character. He was very much like other immortals that I have read about. Very arrogant and very much believing that he was the center of the universe. He didn’t seem to care about anyone other than himself.
Aeëtes: At first I thought that he was a good character. Then he turned out to be a complete jerk. I found myself disliking him and wishing I had known more about him before reading this book.
Pasiphae: I didn’t like her, but I didn’t really know all that much about her other than what was spoken about her through Circe. I didn’t know of her hardships and I didn’t know what it was that made her such a cruel person.
Scylla: I did feel bad for her, but I also thought her story was interesting as Circe explained how Scylla came to be.

Note: There were so many characters in this book, but these were the ones that stood out to me the most as I read it.

Overall:
This was a fantastic read and I highly recommend it. The history in the book is well researched and retold. The main reason this book lost half a point from me has to do with the pacing. The more I find myself going back to reread passages, the more I struggle with the book. However, I did enjoy it and love the myths that were added into the text as well. The language was beautiful and the details were magnificent.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
john mccreery
I stand with Circe in my hand staring at the bookshelf that holds my Classics. The Iliad is there and the Odyssey, the Eneid and that battered book I grew up with that has my childhood stories of the Gods of Olympus and the mighty heroes of Greece. The Song of Achilles is there as well, together with some of Mary Renault’s books. My beloved masterpieces.
So I stand there, with the book in my hand and I’m at a loss…
I didn’t like it.
I think it was because of the way Odysseus was portrayed. He was a ruthless tactician, an egotistical ruler and in the end a murderous madman. Original portrayal yes, but it pissed me off to see one of my favorite heroes cast in this light. I am sorry, I am human, I grew up with Odysseus. Perhaps he was a madman after all, but for me he was a childhood friend and I do not like to see him in any other way than one of the best of the Greeks. I am selfish.
I also had an issue connecting with Circe.
Everything was done right in bringing her to life. Circe was a brave woman who stood against the Olympian gods to protect who and what she loved. She was a lesser god, the daughter of Helios, who discovers her witchcraft abilities driven by the love for a mortal. We follow her from birth during a span of 1000 years. We see her grow, make mistakes, learn from them. We see the men that shaped her life, her father, her brother, Prometheus, Glaucos, Dedalus, Hermes, Odysseus, her son Telegonus and Odysseus’s son Telemachus. We see her standing brave against Athena and the monster Scylla twice. She helps trap the Minotaur in the Labyrinth under Minos’s castle in Crete. She is beautiful and strong and the very image of Girl Power.
And yet I couldn’t connect to her and I don’t know why.
There are so many 5 star reviews that I am jealous I couldn’t experience the book at the level most of the readers have experienced it.
Is it possible, I wonder, to stare at Van Gogh’s paintings and not like them? Because that’s how I felt with Circe. I felt I had a masterpiece in my hands, but my eyes were not clear enough to see the glamour.

Madeline Miller’s writing is beautiful and spellbinding. It glimmers as if blessed by the very the gods she writes about and each word sounds like the tune of a harp string. The originality with which the author has built the story of Circe, witch of Aiaia, and the level of research done must be praised. 5 stars for beauty of the writing and 5 stars for originality.
Unfortunately I needed more than the tunes of a harp to enjoy Circe.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elizabeth augusto
Circe by Madeline Miller, novel set in ancient Greece, at the court of Helios and the mythological island of Aiaia.

Miller’s version of the story of Circe begins in the court of Helios, the sun god and Circe’s father. It’s not an auspicious start – we are made fully aware of Circe’s inferior status. The writer’s choice of first person narrative allows us to feel Circe’s pain as she is brutally rejected by her family and the other nymphs. Her siblings mock her for her stupidity, her yellow eyes and her less than perfect beauty; her father describes her as “dull as a rock”. Little wonder then, that Circe turns away from the gods and looks to mortals for friendship and love.

Soon, she meets Glaucos, a poor fisherman and, knowing that she will never be permitted to marry a mortal, resorts to “pharmaka”, the use of magical herbs to turn him into a god. It backfires, however, as Glaucos is so besotted by his own beauty as a god that he turns from somewhat unprepossessing Circe in favour of Scylla, a beautiful and much-admired sea-nymph. Circe, quite naturally, is infuriated by this turn of events and focuses her burgeoning witchcraft skills on Scylla, transforming her into a hideous sea monster. As punishment, poor Circe is banished to the island of Aiaia for eternity.

Miller then weaves the tales of many other mythological characters into her narrative, as Medea, Hermes, Daedalus, Odysseus and his wife Helen and son, Telemachus successively visit Circe on her island and recount their adventures elsewhere. The reader, of course, knows these stories – there are no surprises here but Miller really fleshes out the bare bones of the well-known myths, bringing them to life in a very vivid manner. These familiar characters become much more human in Miller’s hands, particularly Circe, whom the reader comes to know exceptionally well and who elicits all our sympathies.

Circe is wonderfully crafted, full of powerful hyperbolic descriptions which seem fitting to the topic. Miller can produce quite gruesome detail in some passages; the detailed account of the process of the transformation of Odysseus’ sailors into pigs spares the reader nothing and the description of Scylla, as she battles with Circe, is quite enough to rival that of Grendel’s mother in Beowulf.

Miller’s reworking of the myths is emphatically feminist in its perspective and that, I think, is what makes Circe such a delight to read. Circe is a nymph, sure, but she isn’t going to roll over and be some god’s plaything; she’s going to fight back with all the power she possesses. Circe works her way through many issues affecting contemporary women, such as finding a fulfilling career, balancing work and emotional attachments and even single motherhood.

All in all, Miller’s treatment gives us a heroine we really root for and it certainly keeps the reader turning the pages, not because we want to know how it all turns out, because we already know that, but to see how it feels for Circe.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
elena dudina
To all of the readers sick of so-called 'average' and 'unremarkable' female protagonists who miraculously discover their latent strengths—this book is for you. CIRCE upends the irksome preponderance of women in literature who, through an accident of fate, come into their true power. There can be no growth without hardship, and the half-nymph, half-Titan Circe endures far more of it than she rightly deserves. Yet each slight nudges her towards destiny, a journey that is shaped by the actions of powerful men (and women) but ultimately not dictated by them. It's a distinction all the more important for its nuance; as Circe grows and learns, she shifts from a reactive role to the proactive one a protagonist deserves. Miller addresses this absurd notion of making women powerless herself, through the witch's voice:

"Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep."

CIRCE is instead the story of one women shattering that tired trope, defying gods old, new, and ancient in search of her rightful place in the world. Several other women strive for the same freedom along the margins of Circe's tale: her sister Pasiphaë, beautiful and cruel, given in marriage to King Minos of Crete; Penelope, the faithful wife of wayward soldier Odysseus; her niece Medea, who helped Jason and his Argonauts steal the golden fleece from her once-loved brother, Aeëtes. Each struggles against her bonds differently, their rage, patience, and naiveté all recognizable to today's young women.

The men are no less colorfully realized, though always observed through the context of Circe's experience. Her brothers and father—Helios, the Titan and sun god—view her as worthless, while a brief meeting with Prometheus in her adolescence helps lessen the sting of their disapproval and significantly influences later events. A string of lovers taken during her exile further develop Circe's sense of self and personal valuation. These later relationships do not dictate who she is; rather, each interaction provides experiences and emotions for the isolated Circe to look back on, interpret, and move forward from. It's both astonishing and delightful how, in a cast heavily populated with men, she cultivates the strength of character to consign all of them to supporting roles.

Miller's prose once again soars in service to the familiar myths. She ventures where the ancient poets did not, finding the blood and gristle beneath the smooth, polished skin of their verses. The untouchable world of immortals and demi-gods often feels close, accessible even, until a moment of shocking cruelty or violence dispels the notion. Many names and places will feel familiar enough that you might find yourself unwittingly skimming ahead: don't. Circe's voice carries a dry wit and aching vulnerability that leaves each sentence ripe with possibility.

A sagging pace in the novel's final section, after Odysseus' arrival on Aiaia, is all that kept CIRCE from achieving a five-star rating for me. Even in the Iliad I found him somewhat boring; constrained by the tales that came before, he only has so much room to move here, though Circe's view of him adds what depth it can. While it does regain much of that lost momentum in the final pages, for a handful of chapters I found my mind starting to wander. But when compared to the rest of the novel that lag amounts to a minor quibble, nothing more. CIRCE distinguishes itself as a triumphant sophomore effort by Miller, a fervent affirmation of feminine fortitude and strength that echoes down across the centuries.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
mackenzie tennison
I can't. I'm sorry I just can't with this book. Maybe it's because the author seems to channel Homer in her writing a little bit too much for me. Maybe it's because I find the story a little disorienting as I know too much about Greek mythology. Maybe it's because I don't find the characters interesting. I honestly don't know but I just can't do it I'm bailing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mequel
There are few societies more chauvinistic than Ancient Greece--a culture with a deep-rooted misogyny that regarded women as temptresses, emasculators, and threats to the "natural" (i.e., masculine) order. Women were infanticides, regicides and the cause of pan-Hellenic conflict. Medea, Clytemnestra, and Helen, all caused Greek men to shudder. How wonderful and appropriate then that Madeline Miller's marvelous new novel Circe coincides with our current #metoo movement and moment in history. Like the political movement it resembles, the story of the witch of AiAia is a breath of fresh air, reimagining and enlivening familiar tropes with a feminine perspective.

A daughter of Helios and the witch Perse, immortality rarely lives up to its promise for Circe who is despised by her mother and ignored by her father. Her existence is a constant search for love or affirmation that is rarely rewarded and seldom appreciated. Gods disdain her; mortals forget her and siblings either taunt or abandon her. Even her first forays into witchcraft are disasters creating first a narcissist and then a monster. For her impudence (nymphs should be raped and not feared) she is exiled by her own father Helios who gladly throws a daughter to the sharks rather than risk offending Zeus. It is when abandoned by father, brother, and prospective lover that Circe begins to realize she must rely upon herself and cultivate her gifts.

Miller's narrative is magical. Circe's story is interwoven with Daedalus, the Minotaur of Crete, Olympian gods and of course Odysseus. The last third of the novel--a mythical take on single-parenthood, childrearing and desperately trying to keep a beloved son safe resonates beautifully. Here the author transcends classical themes and strikes universal chords. There is real humor in her tale; Circe's delight in turning chauvinist-pig mortals into actual swine is figuratively and literally delicious (occasionally they're eaten). But mostly it is a story of struggle, hardship, and occasional triumph--like the lives of so many women, before and after her.

Hopefully, Miller's Circe will inspire women everywhere to cultivate the witch within and harvest power they may not have realized they had all along.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
janet ferguson dooley
4 stars!

“When I was born, the word for what I was did not exist.”

Circe is a retelling of the Greek Goddess of sorcery. From her birth and through thousands of years of her life. In her early life, she discovers a strange power within her and she finds she can transform her enemies into monsters. Fearful of her power, Zeus has her banished into exile, to spend her immortal years on an island alone.

As the years go by Circe faces those who come to her island, some are friendly and some are foe. In this, we get her side of the story and see that things are not always as they seem.

“You cannot know how frightened gods are of pain. There is nothing more foreign to them, and so nothing they ache more deeply to see.”

Madeline Miller is a writer I love, her book The Song of Achilles is very close to my heart. So when I saw that she had written another novel I was very eager to read it. I didn’t remember much about Circe and after I started I admit I needed to look her up for a refresher. One of my favorite thing about Miller is her writing style and the way she bends the English language to her will. All the words flow so elegantly across the page, I love reading what she has to say.

Circe was a very interesting character, but also a passive one at least to me. I felt a lot of her life was watching things happen to other people, and while she was involved, it wasn’t until the end that she felt like the heroine of her own story. I liked seeing Miller’s take on all of these famous characters and how the stories we thought we knew might be a little bit different than we think.

A beautifully written book and an interesting story, if you like the classics and retellings you should pick this book up.

“It is a 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.”
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kenji
There is a copy of Rick Riordan’s THE LIGHTNING THIEF on my desk, the book that first got me invested in Greek mythology. Its pages yellowed and battered to the point where you’d think it was an ancient text, I pored over it again and again since my teacher gifted it to me in fifth grade. Percy Jackson’s friends became as familiar as my own, and the gods and monsters he faced unlocked doors in my imagination I didn’t know were there. I didn’t just want to read about Percy; I wanted to be him. However, with the realization dawning on me that I was no son of Poseidon as Percy was, I stopped reading his adventures long ago, but my love for Greek myths never faded. If his stories embodied my childhood imaginings and desires, then Madeline Miller’s CIRCE embodies my adult introspection and retrospection.

Those familiar with the millennia-old tales of the Greeks will recognize mythological figures leaping from the pages: wind-swift Hermes, Daedalus the craftsman, resilient Odysseus --- the list goes on. Make no mistake, though: as fresh as all of Miller’s renditions of these characters may be, they ultimately serve to reveal hidden facets of Circe. Although contained to her island of Aiaia, she is the heart and soul of this book, and her transformation as a character is as potent as any of her draughts.

Beginning with Circe’s early days slinking unnoticed through the halls of the Titans --- immortal beings of whom she is one, and who bear blood ties to the Olympians --- Miller quickly makes it clear that Circe is...well, different. She does not partake in the same pleasures as her eternal kindred, does not seem to possess even a hint of her lineage’s power, and is far more interested in mortals than she has any right to be. All of these things set her apart and make her an outcast; whatever relationships she forms, then, she clings onto for dear life, for fear that she will find no others. When she learns to harness the power of pharmaka­, herbs grown from the blood of gods, she reins in that fear, but redirects it poorly, out of young love and jealousy. This results in her exile, and her journey --- if you want to call it that --- as the first witch begins.

Again, where Miller succeeds in detailing this journey is the characters. Not everyone lasts an eternity as Circe does, but many last long enough to leave an impression on her, and us. Daedalus in particular is a delight to read, as much a prisoner to his own fate as Circe is to her island. Beaten and scarred from his time at the workbenches and forges that are his due, his mind is as sharp as any of his tools. Telemachus, son of Odysseus, and Telegonus, bastard son of Odysseus by Circe, leave their individual marks, too.

Miller’s stylistic trappings are as vivid as any of her characters. It’s been a long time since I’ve read such luscious prose, striking the perfect balance between easy to read and complex enough to be savored. Like Circe, she is a witch, though of words rather than potions: gathering the best ingredients she can find, combining and mixing them with utmost care, and delivering the results in just the right time and place. I have read stronger dialogue --- though it is certainly nothing to scoff at --- but Circe’s stream-of-consciousness narration was constantly engaging, filled with quotable moments galore. (Among my favorites: “Is there a moment that a heart cracks?”)

The writing isn’t just gilded sheen, either: there is great depth to the story of Circe. There are gods, yes, and monsters too, but more than anything there is an examination of what it is to be mortal through the eyes of one who is immortal. To be human through the eyes of one who is more than human. To be woman through the eyes of a goddess. To know what it is to feel real pain, real loss, real love --- foreign concepts on the shining peaks of Olympus, yet ever-present on Aiaia. Through all this, Miller mines the depths of myths known around the world, imbuing Circe with new life and making her more relevant than ever.

If I have one qualm about CIRCE, it’s the pacing. Because it’s more a character study than anything else, the book’s individual moving parts sometimes felt odd juxtaposed. It was somewhat jarring, for instance, to witness a battle against a monster after pages and pages of isolation and thought. Maybe that was the point --- to throw us into the thick of it after so long alone, just like Circe --- but either way, I’m up for a good monster fight any day of the week. Nothing ever took me completely away from the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Circe, and that’s all that mattered. CIRCE is an enchanting read from start to finish, whether you’re a Greek geek or someone who just wants a well-told story.

Reviewed by Benny Regalbuto
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
aljoharah
I really enjoyed this book. I really like books based off mythology, and this one intertwine a bunch of greek mythology and I just loved it. Circe is a minor character in Odyssey and really isn't talked about elsewhere but Circe did a lot and was the reason for some of mythic creatures like Scylla and even the helped with the Minotaur.

Circe is a godess born from Titan Helio and Sea Nymph Perse. As soon as she was born her dad made a prophecy that she would only be good enough to marry a king, her mother wanted nothing better than her daughter to marry a King, shoved Circe a side and Circe had to learn how to fend for herself. Everyone laughed at her because she sounded like a crying bird. No one really paid attention to her.

Circe really had a hard life. From no one paying her any attention, to being exiled on an island. Nothing went her way. But she is a great character to read about, because when nothing went her way she found ways to just shrug it off and keep on going. She wouldn't let anything take her down even though she had so much on her shoulders.

This book is written like memoir, that Circe has sat us down and is telling us the story of her life. She already knows what happens and hints that to future things. I really enjoyed the way it was written and I really enjoyed this telling of Circe.

When introduced to a new character, I found myself wiki searching that character and finding out about them. In the wiki search Circe is portray as a not so nice witch that turns men into pigs. But this story gives her a reason to turn those men in to pigs that makes sense and doesn't make her a bad person. You just like Circe more and more as you read this book. Everything that was ever said about her in mythology this book turns it around and shows you Circe version and why she did it.

Overall great book. I have never read any books from this author but now I want to read more.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tim mcintosh
Where do I even begin? This was one of the most amazing, beautiful, intricate, captivating books I have had the pleasure of reading in my entire life. I have been a bookworm since I was barely walking, and yet this book, this gorgeous retelling, has impacted me so profoundly that I genuinely do not know if I will ever be entirely the same.

As a child, I loved Greek mythology, and though I lost some of that knowledge through recent years, when I heard that this story was releasing, I knew I just had to read it. I thought it was going to be the story from Circe’s point of view, but ultimately, I expected it to revolve around Odysseus; I had no idea that I was in for such a treat, though, as he is only a small portion of the immortal Circe’s life. This isn’t a retelling, it’s an origin story, a history, a tale of centuries’ worth of loves and losses, griefs and triumphs.

From the very start, we see that Circe is so vastly set apart from her fellow gods and goddesses; as a nymph with the reedy voice of a mortal, she is told she is wholly useless, but it’s evident from the beginning that she is this brilliant, clever, strong woman: a force to be reckoned with in every way. I knew I would love her, but I couldn’t have predicted how fast or hard I would find myself rooting for her to succeed.

Of course, Circe’s exile on the isle of Aiaia is bound to be an unhappy story, and that’s a common thread throughout Circe: you always know something miserable or painful is on its way, but the moments in between those travesties, and the ways Circe handles the hand of cards life has dealt her, makes it so incredibly worth the ache. Perhaps the greatest thing about watching her struggle is how much relatability it lends to her character; despite being a goddess, an immortal, and a witch, Circe at her core is a spurned woman who has lived too long under the heels of spiteful, power-hungry men, and a wicked society that values beauty over strength.

Of course, Circe’s tale is not entirely a desolate one, but her joys are often her curses, as she loves mortals and sees in them the same potential that cursed Prometheus to his rock. Throughout her life, we get to see relationships come and go, and I was enthralled by how incredibly sex-positive and sure of herself she remains. Rather than selling herself away to the highest bidder, Circe’s primary focus is to never let her pursuit of pleasures and companionship win out over her need to be her own person.

It was so enjoyable to watch the different characters cycle in and out of her memories, whether it was Daedalus and his loom, or Hermes and his messages and antics, or—of course—Odysseus, who we saw in a much more realistic light, as Circe portrayed an image of him that was far less heroic or noble than many of the legends would have one believe. There are even mentions of Patroclus and Achilles, and what became of them, though I was pleased to find that prior knowledge of The Song of Achilles was not at all necessary to fully enjoy this book.

Of all the things Madeline’s writing had to offer me, though, the one that meant the most to me was wholly unexpected: the perfect, beautiful depiction of motherhood through Circe’s relationship with her son. As a mother to a wild little boy of my own, I related to so many of her thoughts and fears, but most of all, to the utter authenticity of the love she describes for him. It consumes her entirely—for better or for worse—and her need to protect him holds such ferocity that she worries it will destroy her at times. Many of the thoughts she held for him gave me chills or brought tears to my eye, and throughout it all, I just kept thinking that I had never felt like motherhood had been so perfectly described as it is in this book.

Truly, I could gush for days, but I’m going to cut myself off here and just ask you to please, please pick up a copy of this beautiful book. I sound like a broken record, but it meant so much to me, and has earned such a warm place in my heart that I know I will reread it over and over in the coming years. Whether you are a mother, or a lover of Greek mythology, or just a bookworm looking for a story that will capture you so wholly, you’ll never want to leave its embrace—this book is flawless, utter perfection, and I cannot possibly recommend it highly enough.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
heather downs
I’m not sure that a novel or a writer as accomplished as this needs help from a lowly blogger to carve its niche into smart, popular fiction. Madeline Miller reimagines the story of Circe from her point-of-view and makes a fascinating adventure of it.

Most of us grow up with the abbreviated version of ancient myths. The stories of the gods and goddesses, and the mortals who crossed them, can often be distilled into a sentence or two. Prometheus stole fire from Mount Olympus and was punished for eternity. Icarus was too arrogant about his waxwings and it was his undoing. Some of us encountered longer tales of war and wisdom in epics like Iliad and Odyssey. Miller’s novel Circe is more like these epics in scope but is vastly different in its tone, and its narrator.

Circe is the daughter of Helios, the Titan god of the sun, and Perse, a nymph. In the Homeric stories, she is a witch, punished for her jealous behavior by being banished to a deserted island. In her years there, she used her wiles to coax big cats to be her pets. She grew useful, magical herbs, and she provided a haven for sailors, including Odysseus.

Circe Invidiosa, John William Waterhouse, 1892.
In this novel, Circe is a much deeper, and more complicated character. The reader meets her as a child and sees her grow up in the halls of Zeus. She nurses the wounds of Prometheus and watches the gods enjoy their nightly feasts. Not really belonging in either world, she contents herself by being a watchful shadow.

Far beyond his shoulder, my father’s chariot was slipping into the sea. In their dusty palace rooms, astronomers were even now tracking its sunset glory, hoping their calculations would hold. Their bony knees trembled, thinking of the headman’s axe. ~Pg. 1398

When Circe finally gains the attention of Glaucus, and fellow nymph Scylla steals him away, she retaliated by turning her into a six-headed monster doomed to attack wayward sailors. For this, Circe is exiled to the island of Aiaia. It is here that she truly comes into her own.

Readers that were scared off by the length or style of the ancient Greek texts should know this book is incredibly accessible. Told in Circe’s voice, the tone is straightforward, yet loses none of the mystical aspects of a mythological story. At the halfway point, her tone turns from youthful and joyful to dark and vengeful. I was at first thrown off-balance. I then realized Miller had done so deliberately because of a crucial turning in Circe’s story. Miller has written more than a novel; she has drawn a psychological sketch of a previously minor character in the mythological panoply.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christen
<i>*Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley, for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review*</i>

When I was approved for Circe by Madeline Miller I was overjoyed. The Song of Achilles has become one of my favorite books of all time so, I had to see what else Miss Miller had up her sleeve. Let me tell you I was not disappointed in the slightest. Everything that I loved about TSOA was just as prominent here but different. I didn't feel like I was reading a carbon copy but it was just as special. I will go into greater detail but her writing, world-building, characters, romance, plot, etc. were all done so meticulously. Nothing felt like a filler or just thrown into the book for haha's sake. That is one of my favorite things about this author. Every detail is important and plays a bigger role later. I loved how unlike in TSOA we got to see more of the Greek gods in this one since they play a bigger role in Circe's life then they did Patroclus and Achilles. Also, I just love that we got an Odessy retelling from Circe's point of view. She was always a character I admired and felt was really miss understood so seeing how things played out from her ye you can really connect and sympathize with her. She is an extremely likable character with relatable personality traits like jealousy, sadness, loneliness, anger, happiness, flaws, etc. But, she is also likable because she is not like everyday people since she is Titan/god/witch with immense power and all those human-like traits but, the difference is she's not insufferable like a lot of the other gods can be. Greek mythology is one of my favorite things in the world and Rick Riordan is my favorite re-teller when it comes to bringing a youthfulness to the stories but, Madeline Miller is my favorite when it comes to bringing the raw aspects of the stories to life through an unlikely point of view that most people won't touch (i.e Patroclus and Circe; they were not the main people in Achille's story or the Odessy but Miller used these underdogs to tell these epic tales.) 

1) Plot

"The thought of this: that all my life had been murk and depths, but I was not a part of that dark water. I was a creature within it."

Everything in the story is not 100% accurate but that is what I love about this book. It shows the time and research put into the book enough that she can write something accurate enough to be real and fabricated enough to make it twisted tale. Seeing Circe's life from young to being a powerful witch on her island. I love how the author gave us the timeline of her life like in TSOA but again she didn't make it drag she gave us every important detail no more and no less. The pace was really good and for a story that is so wonderfully crafted and not YA, it was super easy and fast to read.

2) Writing/World-Building

"You can teach a viper to eat from your hands, but you cannot take away how much it likes to bite."

Madeline Miller's writing never ceases to amaze me. She doesn't use a lot of dialogue yet I am always hooked and grasping onto every word that she put down. The world's she builds on paper just come to life before my eyes and I drink them in. She is a magician and weaver of words. She crafted such a beautiful tale you would hardly believe this is her second novel. 

3) Characters

She was gone. But I said it anyway, to that great empty room and my son's dreaming ears: "You do not know what I can do."

I really enjoyed the cast of characters and just like with her plot Miller does not write characters that are unimportant. Everyone is important in the life of Circe even minor characters. My favorites were Circe and her son Telegonus. Circe had such growth in her life and it was beautiful to see it unfold. She was a timid girl and let people walk all over her. Then she became this powerful witch even besting the likes of Athena. Telegonus was such a cute character and just a boy who wasn't used to the world and its harshness but he learned quickly. I loved her sister Pasiphaë even though she was a terrible person I liked how she challenged Circe, I loved Daedalus, Odysseus, Hermes, Penelope, and Telemachus. Her father Helios, Zeus, her mother Perse, Glaucus, her brother Perses, and her other brother Aeetes can all choke, to be honest.

4) Romance

"Tell me," I said, "how do you know that your father is not right about my poisons?..."
"I do not."
"Yet you dare to stay?"
"I dare anything," he said.
And that is how we became lovers.

This wasn't as romance filled as TSOA but it wasn't about that and I loved how Miller had it and showed her three interactions with her three great lovers (I refuse to add the trash bag Glaucus into this.) Hermes was her first and it wasn't about love it was all for pleasure but I enjoyed their interaction a lot. Daedalus was her second and I think out of all three that was the most like love. It was short lived but he was kind and truly cared for her. Then we had Odysseus which stayed with her the longest. They had a true tender bond and she bore a child from him (he didn't know) but he had a wife and son to return to. Glaucus didn't share her body but, he was actually her true first in the sense of her heart. He was the one who broke her heart and in turn, her powers were born.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anita keshmirian
Ms. Miller's first book, "The Song of Achilles", was brilliant and revelatory, so I couldn't wait to read her new work, "Circe". And while I don't feel quite as strongly about this book as I did her earlier one, it's simply a wonderful read that brings the Greek myths to life, with some interesting twists along the way.

Others have written about the plot, so I'll simply say that Ms. Miller tells the story of Circe, and a slew of related and unrelated events, providing great context and details for myths with which many of us, and most probably her readers, are already familiar. By doing so, she makes them human (and that includes the gods, even though they are not human) and very real. She is also a brilliant storyteller, and I was gripped from page 1 to the very end -- and slightly disappointed when the latter came.

The reason why I didn't adore "Circe" as much as I did Ms. Miller's earlier work may be a bit gender-biased; "The Song of Achilles" was much more about men, while "Circe" is definitely more about women, and some of her writing about Circe's loves and losses comes across as, well, a bit chic-litty. I'm probably going to get hate mail about that, but even the store ranks it as romance, which it definitely is not.

However, that is a difference rather than a deficiency, and her writing is so wonderful that even that qualm makes me say "who cares?". It's a great book and a wonderful read, and I can't wait to read her next one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ying
How do I even begin to start describing how much I absolutely loved this book? I knew how popular Miller’s ‘Song of Achilles’ was, but for some reason I had never picked it up. After reading ‘Circe’, I’m definitely will have to add it to me list of things to read. Reading about the Greek myths always brings me back to my middle school days and how much I enjoyed learning their stories. When I saw that Circe herself would be using witchcraft, i knew I had to get my hands on this book immediately.

Her name is Circe, she’s the daughter of Helios, banned to an island because of what she has done. Her crime wasn’t the fact that she could cast witchcraft, or the fact that she made someone a monster and someone else immortal. Her crime was telling everyone what she did and making her father seem like a fool. As punishment, Zeus demanded she isolated to an island for all of eternity. However, just because she could never leave, didn’t mean others couldn’t come to her. So her thousand years of life are filled with wonder and stories of all who she had met and all she had cursed.

When I first started reading this book, I knew I was going to like it. The writing was beautiful and captured me from page one, and I liked Circe. I enjoyed watching her grow from the girl who wondered her fathers empty halls, looking to belong somewhere, and seeing her became this goddess who even Athena wouldn’t stand against. She had faced mortal men who thought to subdue her, gods and goddesses who thought to trick her, and finally her own divinity in the end. For some reason it wasn’t an ending I was expecting, though after I had read it, I should have known it was where her path might have lead, but I never suspected a thing.

I think that was the greatest thing about reading this book. Even though most of us know the stories about the Greek gods and while some of the stories in the book are familiar, everything felt fresh. It was purely Circe's’ story, yet it involved so many different characters and seeing them in a light that played well with the story. I can’t wait to see what Miller has up her sleeve for her next book, but I’ve become such a fan of her writing style that I honestly can’t wait.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
karen oppliger
Circe is the daughter of Helios, god of the sun and the mightiest Titan. Her mother is both cruel and alluring. Circe is not like either of them. Nor is she like her three siblings, striving for power and fame.

Circe prefers the company of fragile mortals to that of the powerful—and cruel—gods. In her search for companionship, Circe discovers she does have power: that of witchcraft. Her power to transform her rivals into monsters makes the gods fear her, and she is banished by Zeus himself to a deserted island.

There, Circe learns her craft, growing in power and knowledge as she comes to know some of the most famous individuals in mythology: The Minotaur, Medea, Daedalus, and especially the mighty Odysseus. But Circe draws the anger of one of the most powerful god in existence, and it will take all of skills and cunning to survive—and to decide if she will be a god, or a mortal.

I’ve always loved mythology, and I knew a tiny bit about Circe from a year spent studying mythology in high school (Thank you, Mrs. Skidmore!), but this novel is a riveting and personal journey into Circe’s life. Her treatment at the hands of the gods made me sad—kind of like the behavior of a lot of society these days—and her fumbling attempts to find friends and figure out her own truths drew my sympathy.

I loved reading about mythology from an insiders’ view—I truly felt I was part of the tale, experiencing Circe’s pain, grief, horror, and happiness right along with her. Well-written and engrossing, this book is a journey readers will love to take!

(Galley provided by Little, Brown and Company in exchange for an honest review.)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pinkan
I listened to this book on the Audible format on a long drive recently, and because the author was new to me I worried it might not hold my attention.

The worry was unfounded. I did the first 8 hours on my way there and finished it on my way back.

You already know Circe's story from the Odyssey, but Madeline Miller's first-person take on Circe was splendid. This is a story not merely of the daughter of the titan Helios, but a fully fleshed exploration into how a woman achieves power and nobility, and in this retelling she even eclipses the hero of the epic she appears in. In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that Miller has changed the game and shown us what true heroism really is.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
neil meyer
Growing up, I devoured as many books of Greek mythology as I could find. My copy of D’Aulaires Book Of Greek Mythology is literally falling apart due to repeated readings. Because of that, reading Circe felt like coming home. However, Miller’s stunning prose and insightful characterization elevated the familiar to the extraordinary.

As with The Song of Achilles, Miller brings her characters to vibrant life. They are not perfect, but they are perfectly flawed. Circe was such a complex character. She was strong but humble, fierce yet impetuous, and determined but lost. She was relatable at an entirely different level than most literary protagonists. Although this story has monsters, heroes, and magic, it’s ultimately about figuring out who you want to be and creating a place for yourself in the world.

While some readers may not like the slower pace of the writing, I felt liked it allowed me to truly immerse myself in the world. Miller explores a wide variety of themes in the various myths she chose to incorporate. Although they seemed a tad disjointed at first, I absolutely loved how seamlessly everything came together at the end.

Circe is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read. If you’re looking for excellent characters, an immersive world, and remarkable prose, definitely pick this one up.

*Disclaimer: I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
meichan
Madeline Miller has again skillfully and gorgeously provided readers with a broadened perspective of a character from Homer's works of Greek literature. This time, a minor side character: Circe, goddess of magic. Ms. Miller was a genius with imagining the relationships and chain of events that led to Circe's infamous feast where she waved her wand and transformed her guests into pigs. In Ms. Miller's perspective, Circe was not an unprovoked villain. She was a woman who had simply had enough. From childhood to adulthood, she was a female who was consistently underestimated. After a particular episode of abuse, she finally let her nonthreatening exterior work to her advantage and allowed her magic-filled rage to soar. It's what every woman dreams of.

Circe shows its heroine grow from a passive child to a passionate and dangerous woman as all the best women are. Her character is developed to be strong, independent, hard-working, nurturing, and deeply protective. My favorite role she is given in this novel is that of motherhood.

"When he was a child I used to make lists of all the things I would do to keep him safe. It was not much of a game, because the answer was always the same. Anything."

I absolutely loved this book and am in awe of Madeline Miller and her respectful talent. The writing is stunning, deeply palpable, and enables women everywhere to do whatever it takes. If you feel isolated, embrace your solitude and take that time to grow. If you feel invisible, strengthen your skills until your confidence makes you impossible to ignore. If you feel underestimated, shake the world and give them something to talk about. Read it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
venisha
'Circe' by Madeline Miller is about a character in Greek mythology who is a witch. If that sounds dull and familiar, I can tell you that this book changed my mind on those thoughts as well.

Circe is the daughter of Helios, god of the sun. She is not powerful, but she has a way with herbs and words. She uses these powers, perhaps foolishly, and ends up creating the monster Scylla. Because she is feared, she is banished by Zeus to a remote island. There she lives in solitude, tending her herbs, The various men who show up on her shore are turned in to pigs when they show their true nature at her table. One day a different man arrives. His name is Odysseus.

I was somewhat familiar with this character, but the author has a way of breathing life into the old and known. When you can come to care about a character that you thought you knew, that is the mark of a truly gifted writer. Her prose is also extremely quotable. There are some truly lovely passages in this book, like the opening line: "When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist." This was a literary journey that I loved to have been on.

I received a review copy of this ebook from Little, Brown and Company, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so very much for allowing me to read this very fine ebook.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stranger
My mythology background is pretty much non-existent. I didn't pay close enough attention in high school when we read The Odyssey and The Iliad. So after I heard the raving reviews about Circe, I instantly knew I had to read it. My need for learning mythology is growing and I was so drawn into the themes of witchcraft in this gorgeous book.

Circe is a very character driven book. It begins with Circe growing up in Oceanus with her father, the sun god Helios, her cold-hearted nymph mother Perse, and her siblings: Pasiphaë, Perses, and Aeëtes. The story follows Circe's relationships with her harsh family, who believe she is ugly and worthless. She only forms a close bond with Aeëtes, but once he moves away, she is all alone. After Circe casts spells that backfire, Zeus exiles her to the island of Aiaia.

Circe's life unfolds before us as she lives her eternal days alone on the island. There she hones her craft; perfecting spells, potions, and tonics. She encounters shipwrecked sailors and is visited by several gods from mythos: Hermes, Athena, Daedalus, and Odysseus.

Other than the insanely beautiful and lyrical writing, I was so pleased to get to read about the other gods as well. We get little glimpses of the rest of the Titans and Olympians. Odysseus and Daedalus play a major role, but we also get to witness the birth of Pasiphaë's son, the infamous Minotaur, Scylla the six-headed sea monster, Medea, and Icarus.

There are also some very rough topics such as rape and abuse. And while those were very hard parts to read, this book is also powerful, feminist, and full of hope. It showcases the love a mother has for a child, how we are not our parents' mistakes, and how we can carve our own paths. This beautiful, epic story had me so hungry to continue my journey into the world of mythos, and I hope you enjoy this book, too!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pratyush
Madeleine Miller is such a tremendous talent. Her writing is beautiful and effortless, while still remaining sharp, and her storytelling spot-on. She handles Greek mythology so well, and with such deft originality, I easily accepted Circe's version of events, and at times preferred them to the actual myths they are inspired by!

This is a book I wish I'd written. If you love myth and/or historical fantasy, especially those featuring powerful, morally ambiguous female characters, you owe it to yourself to read this.

Sidenote: I listened to the audiobook, and Perdita Weeks did a phenomenal job, easily ranking among my favorite narrators to date. I could listen to her read forever.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alina neganova
Finally just bought the book after our audiobook had expired while listening to this with my husband.

Mythology is memorizing.

I listened to this with my husband, who loves mythology and then there is I, who is clueless to it. I seemed to be the annoying person in the movie who is constantly asking questions, but to me I think that should just prove that I enjoyed it. I was actively paying attention and getting excited to the different stories this book encompassed.

I was impressed by the research Madeline did, at how she fit Circe into so many more well known mythological escapades. I had never heard of her before (which is not saying much), but now I know her more than most others I've seen only by their references in stories and movies.

I love that mythology holds almost no bounds. The results and journey can be endless to any adventure. If she doesn't like a man, instead of just a normal break up, why not curse him or turn him into a beast. So much more fun to read than your typical romance! Deceit, treachery, love, adventure, mystery, vengeance. This story holds a mixture of everything you can imagine with a witch on top, what could go wrong?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
steve feldon
I really loved this book. Madeline Miller does a great job of completely changing our impression of Circe while staying fairly true to source materials and her involvements throughout different stories in mythology and epics from Ancient Greece (as much as anyone can stay true to stories that have varying accounts).

The gods really feel like gods in this book–they’re capricious and cruel because immortality allows for little entertainment. They treat humans as if they are ants. They believe in order for humans to keep worshiping them they must not let humans be too happy, lest they forget the gods in their comfort. The gods aren’t only cruel to humans, but also one another. Circe starts with the tales from the beginning since her father, a Titan called Helios, was one of those in power before a young upstart called Zeus overthrew them. The gods are always jockeying for power among each other, soaring to heights and falling low. They’re presented as mostly selfish beings. Circe seems alone in her feelings, more akin to a human’s empathy than a goddess.

On the one hand, I’m totally on board with Circe being different from the other gods. How else are we to relate to her, otherwise? On the other hand, it sometimes feels similar to the ‘not like other girls’ trope. However, sometimes Circe can be cruel as well–first by accident, meaning well but plans having gone awry, and later by choice once she’s been hurt and refuses to be hurt again. You see her struggle with her cruelty at times, and the guilt she feels still sets her aside from the others of her kind.

I think the relationships that Circe has with others is the most interesting thing about the book, which is quite something considering she spends a good portion of it exiled to an island, alone. Her relationship with her sister, for instance, is revealed to be more complex than first she thought. Circe is painted at first as naive, and later much of that has warn off, but even after having lived for a thousand years, having been punished by Zeus, older and more embittered, she still does retain some small spark of hope. Hope for a future where she can love and be loved in return without cruelty on either side.

I love books where you can really get inside the character’s head and feel along with them, all of the hurts and disappoints, the anger, the love, the hope…and Madeline Miller does such a great job with this. The pacing on this one is slow and steady but Miller keeps things interesting by moving us along through different phases of Circe’s tale. Pick this one up if you like Greek Mythology and/or slow-burn stories with rewarding ends.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elliot clements
I was so excited when I saw this book — I absolutely love Greek mythology, the Odyssey is one of my favourite books of all time, and I was fascinated to read about Circe, who has only been presented as a minor character in Greek myth.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
Miller did an amazing job of bringing this goddess to life, to telling her story in an empowering way, and even to staying true to the myths. I love taking a character from myth or history and presenting them with a backstory and motivations and seeing where that all leads.
The book has the richness and history of someone who understands Greek myth–the story is peppered with details that add to this authenticity and enhance its scope. There are some lovely descriptions and writing.
But, most of all, there is Circe, the witch from the Odyssey who turns men into swine. We get to understand how she got there, her childhood and history, her point of view of events. We get to see this amazing woman grow and become formidable, all entwined with Classical Greek themes of gods and mortals, fate and choices, and being a hero versus living a long, quiet life.
If you love Greek myth or strong heroines, I highly recommend this book.
Note: I received a copy of this book on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
arwena demonia
Circe by Madeline Miller is a fresh and interesting take on Greek mythology. Told from the first-person perspective of Circe, the nymph daughter of the Titan God Helios, the reader is afforded her every thought and emotion. Miller has expanded on what we know of the nymph, giving her a psyche that draws upon the characteristics known to be linked more so with the human condition rather than beings graced with immortality.
Through the character development of Circe, Miller makes quite a few statements to reflect upon. Circe is the ugly daughter and, because of this, she is rejected by her own parents. Her sister bullies and ridicules her and no one see the value in her life. They overlook her power, her talent and most of all, her true beauty which is her inner goodness. Circe has a conscience that the deities normally do not possess. Later, we see the strength of a mother’s love, unconditional and undying. She also has a sense of morality and seeks redemption for those she’s wronged, even though it was done to protect herself from further hurt.
Lovers of mythology will enjoy this story, but an open mind will be needed as the author has taken some license with the legends as we know them.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
javier auszenker
(Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Circe is emotional, much like Miller's debut, but is transcends it delivering us a moving account of a powerful woman who must not only discover her own power, but her own fate as well. Even more so, Circe is a beautifully written book. There were numerous quotes that moved me, forced me to stop and highlight, and that I would frame on the wall. This is an entirely different being than her first book and if The Song of Achilles was a bright light, I think this is more like a flickering flame - twisting and turning, showing us deeper and more complex shadows on the walls.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
matt london
Circe is Madeline Miller's compelling retelling of a classic Greek tale and is wonderfully entertaining. I began reading Greek mythology as a young teen and have read the epics several times since. This book is a great addition to the collection.

Circe is a view of the Odyessy from a woman's perspective. Circe was not a major character in the Odyssey but in this book, she steps forward and her character is beautifully developed. The daughter of Greek Titan, Helios, and Perse, a sea nymph, Circe has minor power and has sympathy for the fate of humans, a notable flaw in gods, major or minor. Circe incurs the wrath of Zeus and is banished to an island where her powers as a sorceress come to the fore. The story recounts her life with a wonderful cast of gods and of humans.

This a lengthy book but I found it compelling and well worth the time. It also inspired me to read Madeline Miller's retelling of The Iliad, The Story of Achilles, an equally well-written book. I highly recommend Circe. as well as The Song of Achilles.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dan brazelton
"All this while, I have been a weaver without wool, a ship without the sea. Yet now look where I sail."

I was not expecting the intensity of enjoyment I would find in this title. Completely blown away.

This novel had one of those 'mic drop' endings that was so beautiful and powerful that I just sat for a moment, staring into nothingness--just in total awe of this author's skill with storytelling. This will without-a-doubt be one of my favorite reads of 2018.

Circe centers around the tale of Circe, daughter of Helios and one of the first witches in historical story telling. After some brief family drama and an incident where Circe uses her powers to do evil and harm to another, Circe is exiled to a remote island to live out eternity in solitude. On this island she discovers more about her powers than she ever thought possible, while also discovering much about her own soul and desires. 

But this story isn't just about Circe. Miller weaves in the stories of other immortals and mortals alike, as they cross paths with Circe's destiny. Since Circe is immortal, this novel spans a timeline of hundreds of years, creating a tale of epic proportions (while including characters along the way from other historically famous epics). Circe goes through a multitude of experiences on the pages of this novel. She experiences love, betrayal, heartbreak, and loss--all while being a cast-away on her exiled prison.

"I had no right to claim him, I knew it. 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 was he to me."

*Swoons*

Miller's writing is lyrical and powerful, without being flowery and exhaustive. And she has provided an empathetic and soulful connection to these well-known stories in Greek mythology that I have never seen an author create before. I already knew the outcome for many of the characters in this story, but the originals were always told with such a matter-of-fact-ness and without any touches of emotion, that I have never truly felt a connection with any of the characters. But in Circe, I felt such intense emotions for several of the characters' stories-- feelings that I never knew for those characters before Miller's writing. This novel is an ART. Plain and simple. Retellings are a hard thing to do, and even harder to do it right--with the historical respect for the originals, but with enough grace and talent to create something entirely unique in itself.

Madeline Miller is an artist.

"Only that: we are here. This is what it means to swim in the tide, to walk the earth and feel it touch your feet. This is what it means to be alive."

**Also--While reading this novel, there were one or two quick mentions of Achilles and his lover, Patroclus. I knew that Miller also had a previously released novel titled The Song of Achilles, so I did a little quick digging to see the synopsis and reviews for that novel and-- holy cow, guys-- this author has won me over. That title takes the historically speculated and debated relationship of Achilles and Patroclus and repaints it into Miller's rendition of Achilles' story as a person and a gay man in love-- making his character the priority instead of his battles and achievements-- which I am SO thrilled to read!  I will be pre-ordering a hardcopy of Circe, and also ordering The Song of Achilles, because I am just so in love with her writing.

Thank you to Madeline Miller and Little, Brown, & Co. for providing me with a DRC of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Kaycee Bowick
Off The Press
www.offthepressreads.com
IG: @Off_The_Press
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
twila bennett
Circe was a nymph and a witch, daughter of the Titan Helios, the sun god. She and her family were involved in many of the stories in Greek mythology including the Odessey, Jason and the Argonauts, the Minotaur, etc.
Ms. Miller has woven these tales and more into a compelling story about a woman who spends her eternal life pondering the differences between divinity and humanness. Despised by her own kind as a witch, Circe is exiled to an island where she spends her days brewing potions and taming animals. Her visitors are famous if you're familiar with Greek mythology, and their stories are retold here with fresh and interesting details.
The writing is lovely, filled with descriptive prose that evokes the Mediterranean. You can see the author knows her subject and her setting as she writes of the smells of fresh herbs or the taste of a meal served at Circe's table.
This is a great book whether you like mythology or not. It probably helps to be familiar with the Greek tales, but more importantly, Circe is about mortality and what it means to be human.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sushrut
Last year I read Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles and loved it. So I was pretty sure going into this one that I was going to love it too. And you know what? Madeline Miller didn't let me down because this book was absolutely golden!

I've always love Greek mythology and any book that involves the Greek gods is sure to a favorite of mine. That said, few authors can do Greek mythology the way Miller does. Not only does she retell a story, but she builds it from the ground up before your eyes.

The world she weaves before us seems both old and new. It's an ancient background with characters that are millennia old, and it was so vivid and real and new and just plain good! Miller has a way of taking these larger than life characters that we've all grown up hearing about and somehow makes them human. It was what she did with Achilles in The Song of Achilles and it's what she does here again.

I've always have said that I prefer character-driven stories, and this is the epitome of that.

The character of Circe has always been an interesting one. Her story, her background, her motives for the things she does in The Odessey, everything. Here we get to have all of that explained in a way that is engaging and intriguing. Even though we all know the general parts of her story I was dying to find out more.

As a character in this novel, Circe is extremely complex and amazingly well developed. Same goes for all the other characters in the story. From the gods to the mortals, to all the other beings in between. The relationships here were also beautifully done. Not just the romantic ones, which were far less prominent here than in The Song of Achilles, but the family relationships as well.

Truly, everything was amazing. There is a simplicity to the way that Miller writes them that perfectly highlights the complexity of the individuals involved.

Overall, this was the book that I needed to break me out of this reading slump I was getting myself into. More so, it was the book the world needed in order to finally see this wonderful character and her journey from the eyes of a woman. All through history man has told Circe's story. She was the witch who turned men into pigs and was yet another obstacle in Odysseus' journey and nothing more. Finally, we get to see the woman behind the myth and all the things that had gotten her to that point.

I cannot wait to see what other characters of mythology Miller decides to focus on next. Hopefully, it doesn't take her seven years though!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jacquilyn
Okay, confession, I know next to zero about mythology. I read Circe not because I knew anything at all about Circe — in fact, other than the name, I knew nothing at all of the story — but because I LOVED the author’s Song of Achilles. Seems Circe was the first witch. Also turns out — no surprise here — she was in need of MeToo and NoMore. It’s not only hetero-human men who suck, but, too, the gods and demi-gods; which, pretty much figures since such myths have been — by and large — told and re-shaped and re-told by hetero-men. Madeline Miller is making strides to remedy that, which is great, but for me, this was a bit overlong. Perhaps, if I was more familiar with or more interested in mythology, it would not have seemed so. But, with Song of Achilles, I knew not much of the origin tale either and I found that book riveting and compelling. I think, maybe, this one — in an effort to continue in the genre groove of the first novel — felt as if the author tried too hard with a story that interested her not enough.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
divyjyoti mishra
If you are a fan of Greek mythology, this book is for you.

If you are not familiar with Greek mythology, this book will open your eyes to a great western literary tradition as seen through a thoroughly modern lens. You will want more after you are done with this book.

'Circe' is a clever and nuanced retelling of Homer's 'The Odyssey' , from the first person point-of-view of the goddess-witch Circe.

The author demonstrates a wonderful ability to blend prose into poetry and back again, as she weaves a complex tale of Gods and Mortals, Fathers and Daughters, Mothers and Sons, Heroes and Monsters, and monstrous heroes. Here is a representative sample of the feel of Ms. Miller's writing style:

'We carried Telegonus' bags down to the shore. Telemachus and Penelope said their farewells, then stood back. I waited beside my son, but he scarcely knew it. His eyes had found the horizon, that seam of waves and sky.'

Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
liz freirich
I particularly want to recommend this book to anyone who's felt bereft of Mists of Avalon since learning about Marion Zimmer Bradley's various crimes. CIRCE isn't as complex as MoA, with only one point of view, and it isn't as long, but it has the same lush immersion in a mythic world. The language is gorgeous and inundating. And Circe herself is a magnificent character, so very real and understandable. Her loneliness is palpable. I ached with her through so much of this story. But her strength is formidable as well, and her vengeance glorious. So I recommend this book, too, to anyone who's ever called herself a witch. Circe's magic as a path to agency resonated with me so strongly, like a piece of myself I'd forgotten was there.

I listened to this on audio, and it was magnificent. It felt, in some ways, like the right way to hear the story, as though I were at Circe's knee, curled up on her hearth and lounging against the flank of one of her tame lionesses.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura lyons
Circe, daughter of Helios, is a strange child. As she gets older, she becomes more fascinated with the mortal world. She also learns she has the power of witchcraft. She ends up banished to a deserted island, where she is to spend eternity. She encounters monsters in both the world of gods and the world of man.

Circe’s viewpoint on the Greek gods and mythology was engaging and interesting. Her childhood as the strange child who wasn’t really wanted by anyone, to her discovery of witchcraft, and throughout her time banished in the island, Circe was unique and strong.

Circe isn’t an important character in mythology, and is most memorable for turning Odysseus’s men into swine in Homer’s The Odyssey. I have read The Odyssey and a few other books about Greek mythology, but this book is easily read without prior knowledge of Circe or Greek mythology.

Beautifully written. Fascinating characters. Tragic, magical, and captivating.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ardeshir tayebi
This is one of my favorite books that I read this year so far. Miller takes a minor character from Greek mythology and gives her an interesting backstory and weaves other famous mythological characters into her life. Circe grew up unloved and lonely among her family and people. As she learns to become a powerful sorceress, she finds her voice and turns into a fascinating woman. Faced with many trials and heartbreaks, she still stays true to herself. And when she finally falls in love - it was so raw yet romantic. This is a beautifully written book. Madeline Miller is a wonderful storyteller!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
emily brooks
Madeline Miller never strays away from the original mythology but gives you another perspective on the cunning sorceress. Just when you thought you knew everything about the characters in Greek mythology, Madeline throws you a curve ball. This has to be the BEST book I have read from the "villains" perspective. This is exactly what I wanted to read from a powerful sorceress/seductress like Circe. There were reason to her many actions and finally they have been answered. Circe takes us on a roller coaster ride starting eons ago. All the hardships, trusts, betrayals in her life and in the end she showed the world that women are not a force to be reckoned with! Her pivotal point being the scene where she naively helps those lost at sea. It changed her, I felt the pain, humiliation, torture and injustice served to her and I am glad to say I was not disappointed in the end. She rose through it all with dignity and a hunger for the respect she so well deserves.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jenny garone
The hype for this book has been crazy. It's been everywhere and praised by everybody. And I absolutely agree with them. Setting aside my addiction for Greek mythology, this is one of the most beautifully crafted books I've ever had the joy of reading. It chronicles Circe's journey and turns her into a highly sympathetic woman that you constantly root for. It paints the gods as they should be: narcissistic, harsh, and cruel. It stays true to famous legends of monsters and doomed heroes. It doesn't shy away from heat break or tragedy. I honestly couldn't stop reading for anything. I expected a lot from this story, and my expectations were surpassed. I honestly can't think of a fault in it, and am going to place it as one of my top books of 2018. CIRCE deserves all the praise and promotion it's been getting, and I recommend it to anyone who likes reading books with a powerful and motivating female hero, a love or respect for classic Greek lore, and anyone looking to read a story that will sink into their hearts. I seriously cannot recommend CIRCE more. Do not miss it!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
shelby frahm
The two stars are for the narrator--well done. Miller didn't need to come up with a plot, taking it straight out of classical mythology. She created a feminine perspective, threw in an overabundance of flowery verbiage, and ended up with a best seller. I understand how someone with a cursory (or no) familiarity with classical mythology might rave about the book (because classical myth can be a page-turner), but it's no masterpiece. To read a much superior novel in which the author relates the Arthurian legend through women characters, read The Mists of Avalon by Marian Zimmer Bradley.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
phillip brown
I loved Greek mytholodgy, and I loved this telling of the tale of Circe, daughter of the sun god Helios and Perses, one of many nymphs. The nymphs seem generally empty headed and more interested in outdoing one another than actually doing anything of import. Then one day Circe helps Prometheus, who has displeased the god Zeus. She doesn't tell anyone, but it sets her on a path of wanting to be more than one of 3000 vain and fairly useless nymphs. When Helios finds out he exiles Circe to a magic island for ever (nymphs are immortal). So as to not give anything away, I will only say that Circe finds many things on the island, including love and power, for both good and evil. This retelling of Circe's story is rich in possibility, and lessons in hidden capabilities.Many of the gods from Bullfinch's mythology make appearances, which is truly enjoyable and a good Greek myth fix. I really enjoyed the book, a great read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sadana
Deserving of all the praise it is receiving. When I was a teenager 40 years ago I inhaled mythology like it was junk food, Edith Hamilton's 1930
The Greek Way (The Modern Library, 320.1) with 58 editions printed, 1932's The Roman Way with 31 editions printed, The Echo of Greece and 1942's Mythology 63 editions, and I have been looking for the next great Greco-Roman mythology to devour.

You can believe all the hype, it really is that good. So now I am off to get The Song of Achilles: A Novel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
emily g
I want to be a Greek Goddess now! I loved this book, and learned so much about the Greek gods. It was also so bizarre at times that I had to keep reminding myself the narrative was based on Greek mythology and not the result of the author having a bad drug trip (kidding, but seriously, the bull baby scene?!?! Lawd!)....  I only knew the main characters going into this story, (e.g. Zeus, Athena) so I was excited to read and learn more about the others. 
Circe's stubbornness was infuriating, to a fault.  But in the end, she prevails and all is good.  (I mean, did you really doubt that she would triumph? C'mon man.)  I loved going on Circe's journey and her struggles with trust, as frustrating as they were.  How could you not love her but want to punch her at the same time?  She desperately wanted to be accepted, but yet this was her downfall in most situations. I highly recommend this book, it was a quick read for me despite the length, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
gary stavella
Madeline Miller's retelling of classic Greek mythology focuses on the legend of Circe, an exiled goddess of magic. The famed daughter of the sun was banished to the deserted island, Aiaia, and developed her magic powers and herbs to turn her enemies into beasts, most notably turning Odysseus's plagued crew into wild pigs. Her story is legend, her existence is myth, but Madeline Miller has made Circe real.

Greek mythology has always been fascinating, but strangely unattainable. The Odyssey is undeniably a masterpiece, but it never made my heart leap for joy or sorrow, even though Odysseus is clearly burdened with the latter. It is a work of art, but not exactly a work of passionate readership.

Miller wrote this iteration of Circe into being as a reaction to the disappointment in the narrative of The Odyssey. Miller sought out a representation in which Circe was the center of the universe, rather than Odysseus, and she worked to create a female character with her own agency and power.

“I thought, there are so few female characters like this in Greek Mythology, who are really powerful, but not like, powerful with six heads who eat people.”

Circe takes all of the intrigue and magic of famous Greek legacy, and turns into a powerful, victimized female protagonist that we can not only root for, but relate to. She is beaten down by her family and her shortcomings. She is repeatedly reminded of her mortality, her ugliness, and her failure. Instead of wallowing in her weakness, Circe finds her power and uses it to find her strengths, as well. The book reads like a matriarch telling the stories of her past. Each event is singularly impactful, but the threads connecting them to her life story are vivid and taut. She lives a life intertwined with famous heroes like Jason, Odysseus, and Daedalus, as well as with monsters like Scylla and the Minotaur. The book is star-studded with gods and goddesses, nymphs and Titans, and magic and despair. Circe has reinvigorated my childlike wonder of the Olympian world.

Madeline Miller has written an empowering biopic of a legendary Greek witch. Circe is cast out of her family, exiled and isolated, but she is fiercely independent, tremendously enduring, and genuinely heartfelt.

Thank you to Little Brown & Company and Netgalley for providing my copy in exchange for an honest review.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
derya
I read Madeline Miller’s first book The Song of Achilles earlier this year and absolutely loved it. So, I went into Circe expecting it to be a new favorite and it delivered. Now I have never read The Odyssey so I had never heard of Circe before. After doing a little research, I found out that she isn’t a huge part of the book, which is a shame because she is a very interesting character.

Circe follows one of the daughters of Helios, Circe. Though she was born to a mighty Titan, she is not powerful like her father; neither is she beautiful and alluring like her mother. She is the outcast of the family and is treated horribly for it. One day, she does something despicable in the eyes of the Gods and is banished, by Zeus, to isolation on this island called Aiaia. This is where Circe comes into her powers as a witch and where she discovers her love for mortals.

I also appreciated how Miller did not sugar coat how vicious the Gods were and how vengeful Circe became. She did things that were awful in this book. Some I can say she had the right to do and some she didn’t, but I understood why she did what she did.

After reading this, Circe has become one my favorite female protagonist ever. Reading from her perspective was comforting yet heartbreaking at the same time. I really felt so bad for her because of how she was treated. I thought that when she got sent to the island, I would feel even more sorry for her. However, this was when I felt that she came into her own and started to become this fierce witch. There were still moments when I felt bad for her. Like when she was raped and when she had to let Telegonus go. Those moments were few and far between though. Circe is the feminist icon that we deserve in historical fiction novels.

What made Circe come alive so much on the page was Madeline Miller’s writing. I expected nothing less after reading The Song of Achilles, but I think she topped herself with Circe. This book was just beautiful. The pros was gorgeously done. There is a lot of inner dialogue in this book and sometimes that can get a little dull, but I never felt that this was the case here. I felt that it just made me know and fall in love with Circe even more.

The ending was perfect. When I was reading the last 100 pages, I had no idea how Miller was going to end this. I was a little apprehensive because I didn’t want this to an example of a book that was perfect in the beginning and the end was a big let down. This was definitely not the case. I was so proud of Circe at the end. She had finally stood up to her father and tried her best to right her wrongs. She stopped being selfish and let her son live his life. Her decision to live as a mortal among mortals was absolute
perfection.

I didn’t think I could love this book as much as I loved The Song of Achilles, but Circe has truly stolen my heart.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julie fuller
I first met Circe the witch when I was a child, exploring Greek mythology, and later saw her again in Homer's Odyssey, where she turns many of his men into pigs, but ultimately helps Odysseus find his way back home. The daughter of the sun god Helios and the sea nymph Perse, Circe is a witch who controls all animals and can turn humans into animals as she sees fit.

Miller, who is a classics scholar, fleshes out the story of Circe, making her approachable, interesting, and likable. For anyone who loves Greek myths and Homeric epics, you will love this book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
marjorie
*Original review on Goodreads & My Blog*

I loved this book. It wasn't a 5 star for me but it was still awesome. Reading about all of these gods and Circe was amazing.

I felt sorry for Circe though. She had it tough in this book. This is the first book I have read from this author so I didn't realize there was a book before this one. I still think this was fine as a stand alone.

*Sorry my reviews have gotten shorter - I have cancer - I will be started chemo in a few weeks and my reviews will be on hold for awhile. And they will probably stay short if I come back. There are more important things in life I realize now then trying to write a wonderful review, which I have never done.

So thank you to all of those that support my reviews even if they are short.

Happy Reading!

Mel ♥
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
liza shats
What fun! Miller has taken some of the familiar figures of Greek mythology and cast them in contemporary terms, with the sorceress Circe telling the stories from her point of view. I loved the image of life at home with Helios, her father the Sun, leaving after breakfast for his daily jaunt across the sky. She runs afoul of Zeus and is exiled to the island of Aiaia to live out her days, but makes do honing her skills in witchcraft, increasing her knowledge of potions and herbs, and dealing with the occasional visitor. One of which is Odysseus, who stays long enough to gain her heart and father a son. How Miller makes a 21st century reader interested in material that has become murky in recollection is a testament to her skill and knowledge as a classicist. I liked her earlier book, but enjoyed this one much more.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tony mize
I'm a bit of a classics nerd. I have read The Odyssey at least six times over, and taken more than one class devoted to it. Circe is the sort of book that people like me stay up late to read. Miller obviously knows her way around the Greek Mythological family tree. Circe is enhanced by brief "cameos" of minor characters from the old tales who seemed very accurately rendered. Circe herself is enchanting. She tells her tale so poignantly that you might just shed a few tears.
The prose is captivating and enthralling- just as you would expect a tale of Circe the enchantress to be! It will be particularly pleasing to those familiar with Greek Mythology, but no previous exposure is actually necessary. The story is strong enough to stand without introduction.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jill brown
Holy moly, this is everything I like about fiction. Beautifully descriptive, vivid characters, gripping action, rich character development, and a very very intriguing premise. That being said, I have read a lot of books that have all the above but they don't stick the landing. The last 10 pages of a book can ruin the rest of it or it can rocket it into the stratosphere. At the end of the day, I read an entire novel for those last 10 pages. I won't give anything away, but Madeline Miller knocks it out of the park. Perfect read. Loved it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cara jones patterson
Wow. I loved The Song of Achilles and picked this up when I saw that Madeline Miller was back with another. Circe spans multiple generations and cleverly weaves in pieces of other stories from Greek mythology, from Prometheus to Odysseus to the Minotaur, among others. That makes the narrative feel epic and sweeping even as it unfolds entirely from the perspective of a character who is (mostly) exiled to a (mostly) deserted island. Circe isn't a "feminist" novel, per se, but — without spoilers — Miller puts a timely spin on her fleshing out of old myths, most notably the growing population of pigs on the island of Aeaea. It has some coming-of-age-ish elements, with Circe — even though she is an ageless immortal — developing her powers and coming into her own. And in a world in which mortals and deities freely mingle, Miller makes great observations on aging, death, and the tragedy of witnessing human life wither as petty gods squabble ever on. I tore through this in a few days, carrying it around with me and reading late into the night. Madeline Miller is a master of historical fiction.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lyette
This really lived up to all the hype for me and is on track to be one of my favorites of the year. It binds so much mythology together while exploring the hierarchy of Greek divinity. But, it's also more introspective than I anticipated. Circe is often at the mercy of the action, even the action she instigates early on. The power of the novel comes from Circe gaining her control. Of her powers. Of her fate. Of her narrative. Did I expect to see her a little sharper, a little shrewder? Sure. But, Miller manages to turn this narrative on its head in ways I was unable to anticipate. I loved coming at these myths from this angle. There is so much to dig into and talk about with this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
eric hora
Let me start by saying that a book has to really be a top, all time contender to get a 5. I would give this a 4.5 if I were able. While I knew a bit of Greek mythology, I had to keep looking up the various gods to learn about them. The author did a fabulous job spinning off of what is known. Despite knowing a bit of background, you are continuously surprised by how the story unfolds. I especially enjoyed the ending, which I thought was pretty much perfect. The one criticism I have is that some of the descriptions, especially of battles, etc., were too long and detailed. I skimmed over those. Definitely worth reading!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
laura meredith
I bought this book because I adored The Song of Achilles and I could not wait to read it when it was out. I had never been excited for a book like this. As expected, the writing is pure art. Every sentence is well-expressed and economical and smooth like cream. I glided over the page like an eagle and learned a great deal of the craft just by reading from Miller. How I wish I could write like this goddess. Now my reason for giving this 4 stars instead of 5 is not becauss of the writer's ability to weave words. She writes like her Circe casting spells, all right, but I had expected a similar magic like TSOA, the slow burns, the tinglings, the heartpounding, oh-no moments an the ugly crying. Circe is rather different from Patroclus though they have the same unloving father, childhood and larger than life enemies. Except in Circe, her story is more concentrated on her internal conflicts and self-identity and by the time she embraces herself, it ended. I did cheer for her triumphs and root for her through the book, but for some reason, I didn't feel same giddy joy like I was with TSOA. It feels rather tame to me in a way that Circe only reacts to outside characters's story and almost loses her own. The romance is done well but not passionate enough for me to weep when it's over. I feel bad for holding back a star for my favorite writer but I still have high hope for her future book. I will still read anything she writes even if it's about a chicken drumstick.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jerusha
I believe Circe is the best book I've read so far this year. Ms. Miller does a masterful job of weaving together numerous Greek myths to create a novel with power, depth, and beauty. Admittedly this is not a "pleasant " or "light" read. These are Greek myths after all, with plenty of bloodshed, monsters, and tragedy. What astonishes me is how the author manages to balance all that with a heartfelt and moving story of Circe's journey to wholeness...an achingly human tale, in its own way. Ms. Miller held me spellbound throughout the entire book, and I look forward with eager anticipation to her next offering.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rasma
This has been the best book I've read this year. Just as she did with "The Song of Achilles," Ms. Miller is able to take an ancient story and make it fresh, relevant, and exciting. My degrees are in Greco-Roman history--I know the characters and how all the old stories end--and yet I could not put "Circe" down. Can a novel based on a 3,000 year old story be a "page-turner?" Unquestionably, yes. In Ms. Miller's deft hands, Homer's Circe is at once an extraordinary sorceress and simultaneously every woman--a daughter, sister, mother. It was a pleasure to read this book and I cannot wait to read whatever she writes next. Kudos is not enough, Ms. Miller. Kudoi to you!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
venisha
Actual Rating: 4.5

One of the things I really loved while reading Circe what how unapologetic she was. Often in Greek myths its women being taken advantage of or the “big” name Gods doing something without remorse. And I love that Circe embraces this kind of reality. I’d also like to mention that I love Greek mythology and the way it is encompassed in the story makes me smile so hard.

Her character development is probably the best thing I’ve ever read. It’s honestly such a great ride to be along while she becomes who she truly is. I feel like this story also embraces the dark aspects in mythology and storytelling. And this is deeply embedded in the character development. Not sure if it’s the right word, but I feel that this story, and Circe herself, are gritty. Details aren’t glossed over for the sake of niceties, they show how she is constantly changing. Which is something new for Gods that live out eternities.

The reason I took off half a star is because there were a few slow parts while reading that made me want to skip ahead.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book! It gripped me and my emotions and I was overwhelmingly consumed in the end.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
uht
Even the name ‘Circle’ conjures up the dangerous siren from Homer’s Odyssey who lured sailors to their deaths with her seductive song.
She is an ‘Eve’ - a woman touched by evil who destroys good men.

Or is she?

Madeline Miller’s exciting new version of the Circe tale introduces the reader to Circe’s history. The result of a union between a nymph daughter of Oceanus and the Titan Helios, the sun, Circe is not a god nor is she human. She straddles both worlds and belongs in neither.

This is Circe’s story complete with unhappy childhood, venomous siblings,
early misfortunes, and finally banishment to a deserted isle where she dabbles in magic.

Miller’s Circe is a well developed character and one deserving of sympathy and respect. And when she meets Homer’s hero, Odysseus, I found the moment to be electric.

Miller’s Circe is modern hero, and viewed from a twenty-first century point of view, she is a strong, resourceful woman. And when she is faced with the eternal question, “What price love?” she responds to the challenge.

Madeline Miller is that rare author - a true story teller. Yet her melodic words never detract from the strong plot.

I truly enjoyed my interlude with Miller’s siren song.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
david hagerty
Circe is a fascinating character and this book fills in a lot of the "blanks" from the Odyssey. Miller's writing is excellent and her characters are pretty well developed except in some instances. The portrayal of Odysseus in this novel is a bit different but that's a good thing--Miller forces you to look at his behavior with clear vision rather than the gloss of a Greek hero. Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Greek mythology. My spouse got lost reading it because so many of the characters are from Greek mythology and he isn't as familiar with them as I am.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
daniel damico
I have always loved the Greek myths, and wondered about Circe, so I was eager to read this novel. For about the first quarter of the story, my reaction was tepid, but without really noticing I then became mesmerized and could not put the book down. As I hoped, Miller took a fresh look at a story (a bit of The Odyssey) that in origin was, like most adventure stories, misogynistic, in a way that made perfect sense --"Oh, of course that's what really happened!" From the vantage point of the end of the story, the first quarter was obviously the perfect beginning of the story's emotional crescendo.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
acjerome2002
I needed Cliff Notes to understand The Odyssey 50+ years ago and worried that I would need help understanding Circe. I even started taking notes about Circe's relatives to keep track. I needn't have. Miller did a good job of reminding the reader of relationships among gods with less-than-memorable names as she moved the narrative along.

The writing is superb, and I was surprised at the wisdom expressed that one would expect from a much older author. Plus, who can complain about a feminist viewpoint?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katie rasmussen
I rarely take the time to review the books I read, but I so thoroughly enjoyed "Circe" that I had to say something to persuade any the store shoppers who might be on the fence about purchasing it. This book is beautifully written--the author's similes were often clever and poetic and made me smile and circle back for a second reading--and Circe is so enchanting in her quiet awakenings that she instantly became a beloved character. I would like every book I read to be about a witch of such emotional depth and contradiction, and about the paradoxical beauty and terror of mortality, but alas, there are very few books like this one. It reminded me very much of Kate Chopin's "The Awakening," (minus a bit of the angst, plus more empowerment) and I would recommend it to anyone. And Greek mythology makes everything more fun!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
melanie baker
The first quarter or third of this book was sufficiently depressing that I almost stopped reading, but I'm glad I persevered.

Circe is a well-conceived, flawed, sympathetic character (going well beyond the outlines available from mythology), and the backdrop of gods, heroes, and others against which her story plays out are also well imagined. I was not familiar with many details of the legends, which added to the suspense for me, but this story adds and changes enough that even someone more up on their mythology will find suspense and novelty.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
maggiebowden
“Let me say what sorcery is not: it is not divine power, which comes with a thought and a blink. It must be made and worked, planned and searched for, dug up, dried, chopped and ground, cooked, spoken over, and sung. Even after all that, it can fail, as gods do not. If my herbs are not fresh enough, if my attention falters, if my will is weak, the draughts go stale and rancid in my hands.” – Circe – Madeline Miller. What can I say about this book? Which sequence of words adequately captures everything I want to say about it? The visuals, the aesthetics, the quotes. This book is as much a soft patch of earth, as it is a bright, burning star. This is a story of strength. Of learning to be alone, and finding happiness in your own company, of feminism and sisterhood. The story of a nymph – a witch – a mother – a daughter. The Chronicle of Circe, daughter of the Sun, the Titan, Helios.

I will say what it is not – it is not The Song of Achilles. I was actually talking with my friend Tes, @paperbackbones on Instagram, about this book last week. We both agree that it is more adult fiction than YA, and if you are going into this book expecting a tragic, gay-love story, then you will be disappointed. We both share a similar fear that other readers may not give this book a chance, or even give it the proper rating that it deserves, solely because it does not feature the tragic stories we crave. On the contrary – it contains so much more. Please do not misunderstand me, this book has its tragedies – in fact I would say that it depicts much more tragedy than TSoA did, filled with angst, desperation, anguish, action, romance, and of course witchery.

There is a particular quote that stood out to me, “… 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 was he to me.” This quote captures what it means to be the daughter of a Titan. Immortal. Watching those you love, grow old, wither, and eventually return to the earth. Watching and reading the development of Circe – from adolescence into fully realized goddess, witch – was a delight. I think that Circe’s development, had it been done any other way, could have not hit all the right points, and left the reader dazed and confused. But the pace of the writing allows the reader to take it all in, and by the end you’re left feeling a sense of ease. You have witnessed the LIFE of a goddess! The good, the bad, and the ugly. Circe was an incredibly well written character, tangible and vividly relatable.

If I could offer any bit of advice, do not go into this book with any kind of expectations. While Madeline Miller’s writing is just as eloquent as TSoA, this is a story that stands completely on its own. The way that she describes every little detail, every passing heart-ache, or spoken word, is fluid and does not feel over exaggerated. I couldn’t put the book down, and I found myself reading every chance I could, I even brought the book with me to my office to read in my scarce down time. Reading about some of the most well-known creatures, legends, and characters from Ancient Greek Mythology, seeing them created, from different perspectives – Miller paints a shining novel, filled to the brim with bright tones of ochre, the pungent green of crushed herbs. Besides the characterization and development of our multi-faceted protagonist, I would have to say one of my favorite aspects of this novel were the visuals – the aesthetics – dripping from every page. “At my father’s feet the world was made of gold.” How I wish that I could visit Aiaia, and walk amongst the gardens, the black, towering Cyprus trees, the warm sands of the stony shores. To sit at the hearth, and just ABSORB every bit of knowledge that I could. I’M LOOKING AT YOU, BOOKISH CANDLE COMPANIES!

“Yet, because I knew nothing, nothing was beneath me.” Overall, this book resurrected not only my passion for reading, but also my sense of self-love. The importance of learning to be okay with my flaws, of finding comfort in my own company, and of learning to embrace change. ALSO to never, ever let any man dictate what they think is BEST for me. 5/5 SUNS to this extraordinary novel!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
courtney sutherland
Years ago I started reading Fantasy. Over the last few years I've become more and more atrracted to Mythology Fantasy. Books that taker a fresh look at mythological characters and flesh out their stories and motivations. To be honest, a lot of these books aren't written that well. When Madeline Miller picks up her pen, it's definetly an exceptional thing. Circe does not dissapoint.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
natalie way jones
What a beautifully written book! I love Greek/Roman myths, and with Miller's guidance I think you will too. I highly recommend the audio book for commutes home. Instead of battling traffic, you will smell salt air, simmering herbs, and a hint of iron while disappearing into the mists of an exiled island with a golden-eyed daughter of a Titan. A great summer read, and a satisfying escape from the news.

I was very happy to discover she had another book for me to read (and btw, it didn't matter that I read this one first!). Onto Achilles!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joy benenson
Anyone who personally knows me, knows I love Greek Mythology. That love was born in Mr. Hearne's 8th grade Language Arts class when we were required to read and analyze the Greek epic, The Odyssey by Homer. I. LOVED. THAT. BOOK. It's what made me stay up for hours reading all the Greek myths, googling the stories for specific gods, and only reading Greek Mythology fan fiction (published and non-published, check out Eva Pohler's series the Gatekeeper's Saga!) for A WHILE. I always came back to read the Odyssey and connect the other hero stories I had read with it. There was always the handful of minor gods that never had a full backstory, Circe being one of them. SO you can imagine my excitement when I see ads all over my Facebook, Goodreads, Publisher's Weekly, talking about this book. I got a copy as soon as I could and read it in two days.

What I loved about it:
Madeline Miller knows how to keep the flow of a story going, not a lot of flashbacks but when you get to them, they are perfectly timed. This book is understandable regardless if you are familiar with Circe or any Greek Mythology. The author weaved other well known myths and character's into Circe's story seamlessly. It didn't feel clunky or like the reader has to know any of the Greek god myths to read this book. The author doesn't do a whole lot of twists to the existing myths and most of the beginning is purely the author's take on Circe and propels the story forward through much of the book.

What I didn't like:
I throughly enjoyed the book, the ending left me a little less than satisfied as I really would have preferred that the author would bring her story to close completely. But, alas, Circe is a goddess, so its like there could really be an end or death for her, the ending is as close to an end as we can probably get.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
christina perucci
I have always been fascinated by the character of Circe since the mandatory reading of The Odyssey as a freshman in college.
Miller's expanded mythos of Circe is beautiful, complicated, and mysterious.
I have read rumors that this may become a movie, but if so, I hope it is not treated to the "CGI effect" with too many special effects.
The tale of Circe is very human at its core, despite the mythological elements.
Would recommend to anyone interested in mythology, fantasy, or strong female protagonist.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pradeep
I enjoyed this book more than any I have read in ages. The author retells the Greek myths with life and a modern voice that manages to preserve the magic and irony of the stories. Although you would not need to be familiar with the myths to enjoy the book, if you are, then her perspective and insight through the voice of Circe is a double delight. I am impressed by the author, and envy her students the opportunity to take her classes. Her combination of scholarship and talent shine through in this book. Now to go find a copy of The Song of Achilles.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lhizz browne
Mesmerizing audiobook-on to the hard copy version next. I loved the chance to hear the stories presented from a fresh perspective. I recognized the outline of many womens' lives in Circe's tale. Her thought processes, beliefs, and emotions are common to us all and will resonate in your heart as you listen. This book is a beautiful gift and I'm so happy that Madeline Miller created a worthy sibling to The Song of Achilles. These books should not be missed, either in print or in audiobook format. Circe's story has earned pride of place on my bookshelf...ahead of even Homer's original telling of the epic myths.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
daniel gc
I got this as part of my Book of the Month subscription, and I didn't think I would like it. Then I finished it in 3 days, which is quite a feat because I'm a slow reader and this is a longish book.

If you love a unique perspective and beautiful language and perfect endings then you'll love this book. If you like Greek mythology on top of that, lagniappe!

I have closed the back cover and now I have a Circe-shaped hole in my heart. After days of reading books that don't come near this one, I think the only salve is to read it again!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anggita
In her follow-up novel to Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller proves that she hasn't lost her gift for lyrical prose and brilliant storytelling.

Following the life of the goddess Circe, from childhood in her Titan father's palace to her island of banishment, Miller weaves a tapestry of a dozen different myths seamlessly. She gives Circe a voice and complexity like never before, a fully fleshed woman in her own right, not just relegated as a subplot in Homer's Odyssey.

This is the book everyone will be raving about in 2018!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
candyrae meadows
This by far one of my favorite books of the year and of all time. I knew this book was going to be one of my favorites from the moment I started to read it. There's something so gripping about it that I drew me in. Up until now I thought of Circe as some villain, an evil person, but the way Madeline wrote Circe my heart went out to her. By the end I cried and just wanted to wrap her up in blankets and give her hot chocolate. I'm so looking forward to reading the Song of Achilles now and look forward to her future works.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
maggiemuggins
Wow, I LOVED this book! I’ve been a big fan of Greek mythology for a while and this book allowed me to learn more about some of the smaller stories Miller drew in along with Circe’s. I genuinely loved the complexity of Circe as a character; the emotions she elicits, how her relationships play out, and how she developed as a character. The way she grew into the strong, feminist, sorceress made it hard to put the book down, not to mention the writing was beautiful. Miller managed to create a story that served as a spellbinding origin story of a complex heroine, complete with magic, monsters, and adventure.

I highly recommend this if you have any interest in Greek mythology!

tw: rape (though not graphic) and violence
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rachelvdb
While I’ve been much engaged in Norse mythology in recent years, the Greek myths and legends have always had a special place in my heart, owed to the fact that I grew up with them. Before the thick volumes of high fantasy, before the Lord of the Rings, my parents and grandparents would tell me of the Olympians, their mighty heroes and monsters. These stories are almost a part of my DNA and so I’m picky about modern retellings of these timeless stories.

Plot:

Circe by Madeline Miller is a spellbinding read, a novel that humanises the sorceress of Aiaia in ways I could’ve only hoped for. A story which will sweep you off your feet, this follows the lifespan of the goddess and Oceanid nymph Circe, the strangest of all the Titan Helios’ children, his first with the nymph Perse. Her life’s journey is one that begins in parental neglect, all too common a motive for the gods and their children. (One could make the case that being neglected is better than your father eating you whole along with all your siblings, but that’s beside the point.)

Circe is, at first, much like a child — desperate in love, and without knowledge of her witchcraft, she turns a mortal into a god.When he does not jealousy, she turns the selfish nymph Scylla into the terrible, many-headed monstrosity; a morally reprehensible act, which leaves a deep stain on her conscience.

Once banished to Aiaia, Circe begins to grow in earnest, and hers is a spectacular change, helped along by a small but impressive cast of supporting characters — Hermes and Daedalus, Ariadne and the Minotaur and, of course, cunning Odysseus. I’d say spoilers to that last name, but that particular bit of trivia is a few millennia past the expiry date.

Themes and Characters:

This book will scrutinise what it means to be immortal, the difficulties of parenthood and fickle nature of (some kinds of) love, what it is to be a woman in a man-dominated world, and broken time and time again, only to rise stronger than the time before. It is not an easy road — my heart tightened at the cruelty Circe endured at the hands of both gods and men more than once. She learns bitter lessons from both, but her own exercises in cruelty are rarely callous and undeserved.

Acting as a foil to Circe will be every Olympian and Titan, every Oceanid nymph — self-centred, unchangeable and unconcerned with anything besides themselves and their hedonistic pleasures, power-struggles and small betrayals. All but one, that is and who that one is, I won’t reveal…though if you’re knowledgeable enough in matters mythological, you might already have a shortlist. A very short…list.

Mortals, too, are different from Circe. But where they run counter to the gods is, each is different. No one trait, good or foul, is shared between them. Odysseus could be no more different from Telemachus, for good or ill.

So many gods and heroes appear, whether washed up on the shores of Aiaia or before. I can’t describe how much I enjoyed Circe’s interactions with Hermes and Ariadne, with Odysseus and…many others. Some incredible women await you here, some of them innocent and kind to a fault, others conniving and ambitious, and much more besides. To mention any more names would be to take away some of the surprises you’ll find within the novel, and I just can’t do that. You should experience them for yourself.

Writing:

Madeline Miller’s prose is clear, lyrical and beautiful. Never once did I feel like I was overwhelmed and had to put the book down. Most impressive I find the fact that Miller has managed, by retelling certain myths and stories in as concise a way as possible, to make this a self-contained story which will never force you to feel like you have to go read the Odyssey, for example, in order to find answers.

The greatest compliment I could make is, Circe, told in a first-person POV, truly felt like the account of a divine being, so bittersweet and powerful was Madeline Miller’s writing.

Very Subjective Thoughts:

I love, love, love this novel! I stayed up until 4 in the morning reading the bloody thing! I ignored my poor sweet wee girlfriend to finish it! I couldn’t function, I couldn’t put it down until I finished the whole damn thing!… Which happens to me a lot more than I’d like to admit.

But one thing I want to underline — this is a story worth experiencing. There is pain here, but also love and kindness and so much more, that words escape me. I cannot recommend this book enough. (And I’ve obviously tried!)

And can I just say, Madeline Miller hits the nail on the head wherever Olympians and Titans are concerned. Helios’ in particular reminded me of Dan Simmons’ rendition of the Olympians, with an explosive fury that melts everything away, be it living flesh, stone or metal.

I’ve written a whole lot of words about this novel, but it all boils down to this: Circe is a strong, likeable heroine whose journey will long burn brightly in my mind. It’s a journey worth experiencing.

Audience:

A journey worth experiencing particularly IF you are into:

*Greek mythology;
*self-contained novels;
*strong female characters;
*gods and monsters;
*single, first-person POV;
*historically accurate notions of sexuality;
*witches on islands brewing herbs;
*and more! Prob’ly.

Score and Totally Arbitrary Awards:

I gave Circe a 5-star review on Goodreads! More importantly, it is now a permanent part of my Greek mythology headcanon!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
aliaskhal the flaneur
This book was just so slow. The entire time, it seemed it was building up to something big. I kept thinking it was going to get to the good part. But by 3/4 of the way through, I finally realized nothing life altering was coming. And at the end of the book, I felt like I was left hanging but not in a good way.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ofra
I went into this book without reading what it was about, only that I loved The song of Achilles from the same author last year when I read it. When I found out it was in the same world, even that Achilles story is mentioned I was thrilled, and I wanted to finish reading it right away, but I could not.
This book broke my heart in some many paragraphs that I had to stop and keep the next day… Circe was an incredible character, her growth through the story and all the pain she faces since she's young are a demonstration of perseveration, strength and love… Love even for the ones that do not love you in return, but you keep trying, until you want to try no more, and then, you find yourself, you find that you can go ahead and fight for what you need, for the ones you love, and even if its against all odds, you try and try again.
Madeline Miller has an amazing way of writing, and I love how her books, even sad, they get right through my heart, I will read anything she writes, no doubts about that.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sergey
Be you a fan or not of Greek mythology, there is much to like about this novel. Ms. Miller brings insight into the Titans and their co-existence with the Olympian gods isn't something I had read about much in Greek mythology (probably reading the wrong sources). She brings legendary "heroes", Titans, Gods, and monsters to life. Her characters, especially the main one, are very well developed and are well-woven into this engrossing story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stephen brewster
When I started reading this book, I thought, uh oh, I'm not sure I can get into all this mythology. But I kept reading because of all the rave reviews. I'm glad I did, because not only was it a fun read, but also, it took me back to my youth in learning about all of these characters, many of whom I had forgotten. Kudos to the author for bringing this cast alive, to the present and for making such an enjoyable book. I look forward to reading more by Madeline Miller!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lisa ferguson
I have always loved stories turned upside down, fractured fairy tales, familiar tales from a dif POV, and so was excited to hear about this one. This did not fail me. It was a page turner from page one and I barely came up for air before finishing. The author had quite a task ahead of her - use a female POV to tell the story of the odyssey. No gimmicks, no tricks, just plain good writing made this book work. I plan to reread it .
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
john mann
If I don't get into a book within 3 pages, I'm out. This hasn't happened at all with Miller. Her stories are told with quick and precise words that capture each moment beautifully. It's a great beach read while also teaching me the Greek mythology. Fun and smart, two words we don't get enough of today.
I wish we were 2000 years in the future so Miller could write the story of Tiffany, the lost Trump. I'd love to read that.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hbomb
For lovers of Greek myth and of the sense of broader scope it can bring to one's own life, Madeline Miller's Circe will be a fascinating read. As it will for anyone interested in a confrontation between male and female figures of great power. Homer doesn't tell us much of what Circe and Odysseus said to each other during the year he and his men spent on her island. Miller gives us far more, deeply imagined and full of the understanding which develops between these two very different beings. And she also tells us of Circe's childhood as a lesser divinity, the hard work she puts into developing her powers, and the richness and challenge of her life after Odysseus. Circe is very much a feminist novel, but not polemically so.

What I loved best about Miller's Circe is that it explores the boundary between human and divine, mortal and immortal. It's a novel of yearning. Odysseus's towards Ithaca and Penelope we already know about, but Circe's yearning towards becoming what she cannot be—human—is new. It's no spoiler to say this because the plot is full of many twists and surprises. It left me appreciating mortality! Like Miller's earlier Song of Achilles, her Circe is beautifully and sensuously written.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jackie magis
I’ve never been a huge fan of mythology but this book had me hooked. It’s a look a Circe that has never been seen before, she’s always been portrayed as a villain turning men into pigs. It gives her a history, a look inside herself and her choices that the Odyssey doesn’t give. I loved her character development and learning how to be who she wants to be. I love her willing to accept people even if she knows she’ll end up hurt. That ending...???
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rebekah grmela
I chose to get the audible edition of this book and was so pleased, I couldn't wait to get in to the car and enjoy it. And the narrator is perfect - (there are time when you just can't listen to a book because the narrator is so annoying)!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chad boise
I enjoyed this much more than The Song of Achilles. I thought Circe's voice was so strong and passionate. I loved watching her learn to be her own woman. Plus Miller's writing is beautiful, vivid, and lush. I devoured this book in only a couple days.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cattivo91
I received an advanced copy of this title via NetGalley for an honest review.
I was spellbound. There was not a single moment where I was not intricately entwined in the tale. I’ve heard some of the names, even learned some of the old tales, but this surpassed my expectations. As in her first novel, Miller effortlessly entrances the reader with her ability to make an old tale new again. Circe is not as widely known as some of the others but she will be made even more so with this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amy n
If you love Greek Mythology this is the book for you. The pacing and tone, as well as the excellent writing make this book a must read. Circe was considered a minor Goddess, but her story shines in Miller's hands. Circe's journey is a familiar tale of painful transformation and the hard road to self-awareness. This book is timely, in the land of women today. A woman coming into her own power being viewed as a threat, and deemed a witch, well all you have to do is tune into the world and know this is still going on today. If you are looking for an interesting story of a strong, complicated, and oft misunderstood woman look no further.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tobias
I had loved Song of Achilles, and eagerly awaited Circe. It was definitely worth the wait! It felt a lot like Song of Achilles, but differed in ways that made it even better. This isn't a retelling of the Odyssey, per se; it follows Circe starting with her childhood. It's not until about halfway in that we meet Odysseus, though you'll meet other familiar characters along the way. The themes of how mortals and immortals interact is really interesting to explore. I absolutely LOVE that it twists the typical story of a woman without agency, and allows her to reclaim it.

Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for providing me with an ARC.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
zanda gutek
I so enjoyed the authors retelling of Circe, her descriptions were magical as well as the story itself. There is so much packed into these 400 pages but it flew by too quickly. It was even better than her retelling of Achilles. This is what a great adventure book should be, and with the authors abilities with words I felt I was there as she turned those sailors to pigs. Thank you for writing this book and allowing us to visit ancient Greece and the glorious time of Gods and witches.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jeff cobb
Not since Phillipa Gregory retold the saga of the War of the Roses have I read such a talented author. While there may be thousands of books on mythology telling and retelling the same stories, it's fantastic to have them retold from goddess herself. Very refreshing to take a look from the female perspective as well. Loved this one and will now go and pick up her first book as well.

On a strange side note, I have a friend with a dog named Circe. I may have to gift him a copy of the book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
josh ralske
Loved this book! Nothing negative to say about it at all. If you are looking for a girl power, action packed, stay up all night read, this is a great book.
Great writing, intriguing and well-developed characters, interesting plot that keeps you engaged throughout, and filled with adventure, romance, and Greek mythology. Loved it and highly recommend this to everyone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
iano
Solid 4 star book. I didn't read her first book, Achilles, but I read reviews that Miller has a knack for bringing new perspective, fresh writing and character diversity to her stories. Her portrayal of Circe, who I knew nothing about, and the character's development and growth was engaging. Miller is very easy to read. I enjoyed this book a lot.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
michael havens
The author made Circe into a real woman instead of a Goddess. She had real emotions and acted like a person would. I found some of it hard to follow as it jumped from one God to another. I think if you knew more of mythology it would be easier to follow. But I liked the story and it really held my attention and stopped my disbelief.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anome
Despite having no background in Greek mythology, I really enjoyed this epic tale of Circe and felt like I learned a lot to boot. Not that I had to, but I ended up Googling several of the mythical events that happen in this book because I was that intrigued -- some crazy stuff happens in here! I also have to praise the lyrical writing. Recommended!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
guciano
I love mythology so this book was right up my alley. It was well written and really brought Circe to life. I listened to it on audio,( not something I do often). The voice of the narrator was perfect and for me added to the story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stephanie thornton
I loved this book as much as I loved Song of Achilles, in the end. It's not my usual sort of fair for reading material and I think exiting my beaten path and taking this side-trip down mythology lane shared a part in the engaging thrill of what awaited me within this book. Definitely would read again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
gravitysmiles
I couldn’t wait to be finished with work each day so I could come home and read more of this book. Talk about character development: Miller’s ability to track and convey her protagonist’s inner evolution is nothing short of stunning.
My only complaint about the book is that it ended.
Brava, Madeline Miller!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
a analise
I almost didn’t read this because I’ve never been a fan of fantasy and I thought maybe the Greek mythology would be difficult to follow. I’m so happy I read this. I can’t stop thinking about it and wish that it would have never ended. I now have to read the other two books by this author because I just want more and more!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
vijayan prabhakaran
I had not previously read anything by Madeline Miller but I am truly bowled over by her storytelling talent. I also personally loved the perspective shift from a well known tale. Somehow Miller balances masterfully between the grim and the entrancing in the story of Circe and women in general. Truly a literary journey.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jalina
Beautifully and uniquely written. Brings the story of the Gods to life from a new point of view. We see and hear of so many characters we know and adore put into a thrilling new way. Anyone who is a fan of stories about Greek gods will love this book. Highly recommend you check it out! You hear all the time of people wanting to be with the Gods or be come one but not Circe. This is her tale, and there is so much we could learn from her.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
meichan
I loved every frigging minute and every single page! It was so great to see how this author put all those old stories and characters into play with Circe. I absolutely loved it. I love history and I love hearing and reading about all the Greek Gods. Wow. I am still reeling from this story!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mickie8tencza
I'm fussy about these kinds of myth adaptations because I'm a Classics student myself and familiar with the ancient Greek culture and language. But I really like "Circe" - Madeline Miller has an authentic magical tone with great details adapted from Greek mythology. Kudos!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
debbie maclin
The art of storytelling at its best. The character of Circe is brought to life in this tale of Greek and ,Roman mythology. The author iS cleverly woven the tale of the Illiad and Odyess into the story without overpowering the reader with too much detail. A pleasure for the reader who enjoys Greek and Roman mythology.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rhys ethan
It was a really engaging story from beginning to end from a very "human" perspective. What would it be like to to born into a house of gods and wonder if you had any special gifts? Or are you more like a mortal struggling to earn your parents approval? The narrators voice is absolutely perfect. Perdita Weeks's voice made me feel like I was listening to a BBC radio broadcast production. Well done
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
trinayana roy
I liked the writing; the integration of the gods, goddesses, witches, humans with Homer's Iliad and The Odessey. Most of us are familiar
with most of the characters. It was fun revisiting them again from a different point of view.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dmitriy
My knowledge of -- and interest in -- mythology is right around zero. But this is one of the best books I've ever read. Superbly told, beautiful, elegant prose, and the story (even if, like me, you don't know the story) is great. Read it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alex dicks
The author, Madeline Miller, tells the tales of all the famous Greek heroes through an interesting lens, the life of one titan witch banished to an island. She learns of Achilles, meets Jason and Odysseus, as well as others as she comes to know the cruelty of her kind, the gods. Miller mixes the Greek stories with her own fascinating perspective to create something entirely rich and engaging. A must read for those who are fans of Greek mythology and great literature.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
john lucky witter
Miller really brings the classics to life. I was a lit major and loved mythology but even if I didn't know the gods and goddess mentioned in the book, I'd still be entranced by the characters, the prose, and the turn of phrase. I fell in love with Circe and was left with a renewed sense of just how great it is to be human, a mere mortal, with access to magic.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stella pierides
Absolutely incredible. A magical weaving of myths and legends, intricately told by the most mortal immortal ever. It gave me such a deeper respect and understanding of a lesser known divinity. I look forward to reading more by this author.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
genna
Poetic, beautifully written, full of Greek myth and mythical figures, Circe finds happiness, a husband and has children, she is a weaver of spells that work!
A book to read again and again...maybe not for the story but for the writing
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
auburnlibby
Very sweet book. I love fiction, but not so much mythology. I was a bit hesitant to read this book, but was glad I did. The story was smooth and enjoyable and very well done. The characters were engaging and you got to know them. Excellent book . I decided to try her other book because I enjoyed the first one so much.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rebecca wilson
Madeline Miller's writing really lends itself well to tearing my heart out. This reads like the tales of a tragic hero. Her writing has improved since TSOA, or at least it lends itself particularly well to a wise immortal.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
simone cynthia
This was such a compelling read! There were so many complex, complicated characters, and Circe was a great narrator. It was slow at times, which you might expect from a multi-thousand year epic, but it was beautifully written.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
aaron gregg
Fantastic. I didn't know what to expect from this audiobook but have always loved Greek mythology. Circe surpassed any expectations I may have had. The story touches on so many well known myths as it follows our title character through her life. This book is beautifully written and the story was unexpected at every turn.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mogie
A wonderful retelling/reimagining of Circe’s story. The narrative flows easily, the characters are well built, nicely developed and with their own intriguing evolutions. Looking forward to future works of this author.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
e burak yurtta
Another thumbs up for a Parnassus Firsts selection. Loved this. Initially worried my lack of knowledge about all the mythology would be a hindrance but after the first few chapters it was easy to know the main players. Engaging. Circe in this telling a very likable character and love the ending.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chelsea stein
This book was recommended by a teacher I fully respect ... & I'm happy to say, she was totally spot on about this one! I enjoyed every paragraph, page & chapter ... brava, Ms Miller! And, thank you!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
shjadow
This is a book with a wonderful story line. The author is very creative in fitting the story in with the available mythology. It is probable that the problems I have with the book are related to my personal problems with magical realism. It seems that the author invokes something like magical realism anytime she needs to move the plot forward.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rifa
Absolutely stunning, vivid and engaging. Beautiful prose, fierce character, time melted away while I fell inside this book. Just like Circe's spell of lore, she wove a web that trapped me inside her spell. Loved it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
eamon montgomery
I have little interest in retellings of fairy tales, classics or myths. That seems to be a new sub-genre and often it is lazy. This is the best of the bunch, a very readable recasting of the ancients through the eyes of Circe. I found it most enjoyable when focusing on Circe and her magic, less so with motherhood and despair. There really is not much new here save for the feminist spin. The mythology is respected but the focus expanded and given dialogue of a more modern thought.

I think that those who have not studied ancient mythology might enjoy this the most as the world of gods is described in a bright narrative. I wrestled with my rating but 4 stars seems about right for my enjoyment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alice
Such a satisfying read!! Well-crafted in clean, clear language, this is a must-read for anyone who loves mythology. I put this on the same shelf as The Mists of Avalon and American Gods for bringing mythic figures to life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
savvas dalkitsis
This is a well-written book that will be of particular interest to anyone who likes historical fiction. It is written in the same style of the great Greek epics of the past, and will keep the reader enthralled from start to finish. I cannot recommend this book enough. Also, I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed the narration.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
meghan lang
Last few chapters remain. Started slow and to some extent wasn't a fan of the character but as the story built up, i can't stop listening. The vivid story telling and the way Circe's character grows is exceptionally told and a treat.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer mcardle knapp
I had high hopes for this one since Song of Achilles was impossible to put down. I’m glad to say Circe hit them. This is a quiet novel, anchored by Circe herself, but I found myself just as drawn in.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
scott pinyard
This read was not in my normal genre of books but I found it easy to continue reading. Very interesting and it was a good read to break from my favorite genres. Never really been a fantasy reader but I would read another after reading this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
emma slachta
I liked this book because it was all told from the point of view of Circe whose character well developed, complex and lovable in her trials and triumphs. There was nothing about this book I would change. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Greek myth and legend, this tale is a unique rendering vivid in its details. I can’t wait to read all books by Madeline Miller and plan on reading The Song of Achilles next.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rajasekhar
Her writing is very fluid and her storytelling engaging. It is refreshing to read how strong women are depicted in this story, especially Circe who comes to mature and reach her potential and her powers all on her own.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
susan carroll
An immortal life worth journeying. Highly recommend. Also, if you haven't, check out "The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller. I loved that novel even more. I read it once, then immediately started from the beginning to read again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kelly d
Poetic and full of depth. I loved reading about Circe’s story from her father’s palace to her time in Aiaia. The themes pf divinity and willpower are explored through the lens of a heroine that learns to accept her flaws as her strengths.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
peter harbison
The second work by Mrs. Miller further emphasizes her passion for keeping the ancient world of the classics alive. The empathic life she breaths into these immortal characters is a breathe of fresh life into the world of the classics!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer bernard
I was able to listen to this audiobook over the last few days on my commute. It was a truly wonderful tale. The narrator’s voice rose and fell in a manner that was enchanting. The story is written in a delightful manner.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sue hoyos
*Spoilers*

How I wish Miller's Circe was a reimagining as opposed to a retelling and I say this because there's little else that can be told about Greek mythology that isn't already available online or at the library.
A reinterpretation, on the other hand, gives an author creative license to weave a uniquely extravagant and fantastical story and perhaps one in which a lowly nymph attains great powers, transforms into a formidable sorceress who then proceeds to defy and defeat gods.

But, I digress.

If Miller's ultimate goal for this book is to introduce Greek mythology to a new generation of readers, then, I think she succeeded. However, that's ALL she achieved.
This story about an inferior but immortal nymph called, Circe, who is a progeny of not one but TWO Titans -Helios and Oceanus- is decidedly underwhelming, trite, and overwrought with both too many characters yet very little story progression. Presumedly, the author had a checklist of events (and characters) that simply had to make an appearance in the story, even if the tangent was superfluous and unrelated:

Prometheus, and the banishment. Check
Scylla, the six-headed monster.
Pasiphae, Daedalus, the Bull of Poseidon, and the horror that was Minotaur.
Let's not forget, Odyssey.
And Hermes
And Athena
And many others who (please listen closely) WERE NOT REQUIRED TO MOVE THIS STORY FORWARD. Think I'm making this up?

Well, let's see what the story's about shall we?

1. Circe is so dull and uninteresting that
2. Pretty much everyone ignores her; that is, until
3. She uses her magic to turn Scylla into the six-headed monster
4. Consequently, she's exiled to an island
5. Where she at times turned unsavoury sailors into pigs
6. Eventually leaving the island only after having lived there for centuries.
7. The end.
All in all, I think if you're new to mythology then this is for you; but even then I'd recommend reading Greek Mythology: A Captivating Guide to the Ancient Gods, Goddesses, Heroes, and Monsters instead.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kester
I must say I haven’t been so entranced in a book in quite a few years. I’m in love with the character and completely obsessed with the new book I started to read of Miller’s the song of Achilles!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
tory johnson
Just a bunch of people running around in towels, pretending they are dressed with togas. The gods say she is "a freak". ¿A freak in a world where there are creatures like the God Pan (remember the goat's parts?) or Centaurs. This is a book where modern thought and feelings are superimposed on a very old and beautiful story, making it simple and taking mystery away.
In "Achilles' Song", Miller tried to soften the Iliad, honeying everything to death. Chaeron's cave was pink quartz, and Achilles made olive soap and yogurt. (the Greeks used oil and strigilae for cleansing their skins).
If you want to feel the horror and the strangeness of those stories read David Vann's "Bright Air Black", the retelling of Medea (Circe's niece). That is a good book. Or the beginning of In the shape of a Boar. Or Mary Renault.
This was an insipid read.
Please Rate CIRCE (#1 New York Times bestseller)
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