"Circe" Book Review

Updated on August 26, 2019
Victoria C Cook profile image

Victoria is an avid reader whose opinions are based on the genre of each story as well as her opinion of how each novel ranks in its genre.

Circe is the daughter of Helios, mightiest of the Titan gods with powers equal to Zeus. One would assume that with a father so high in the ranks of Gods, her life would be easy and Circe would be respected by all. However, Circe has no power and a voice like humans. Circe is constantly humiliated by her family and peers before reaching out to the mundane society for companionship. Amidst this journey, Circe learns that she is not helpless, but possesses the ability to perform witchcraft. Zeus is less than pleased to hear about the threat of this new ability Circe wields and demands to her father to exile her.

Circe, now alone on an island, has nothing but time to practice her craft, but when sailors start appearing on her island and Odysseus (the man who ended the trojan war) makes an appearance her life, things quickly become complicated, and her time of peace and tranquility is blown to pieces.

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.

— Madeline Miller, Circe

Whats Good About The Book

  1. Use of time: Circe reads very much like a coming of age story, but in an unorthodox way, happening over centuries rather than a few years. We meet Circe from the moment she's born and learn about her relationships with family and even her first love. This may sound mundane, but it is far from it. Circe is a God and therefore immortal. Her life was chaos from the moment she was born.
  2. Character development: Circe's character goes through more growth than any other character I have read. She begins as a lamb at the beginning of the novel and by the end is a lioness. Honestly, I didn't like her character in the beginning. She was excessively boo-hoo, my life sucks, but it can never end because I'm immortal. Once I finished the book, I couldn't help but feel "wow she's awesome."
  3. Famous figures: Zeus, Odysseus, Helio, and even Hermes make for a star-studded cast. When entering into any Greek mythological story it without question helps to know some figures in the story. There is no lack of famous figures in this novel and I was even encouraged to do research on some of the lesser-known Gods. Some of my searchings even proved fruitful and helped me understand some of the stories I thought I knew even better.

What Was Less Enjoyable

  1. A little boring: When I first read the synopsis it seemed like a story of adventure filled with Gods, mystery, and magic. Though it does have much of all of this, the in-between moments tend to drag out a bit. In total honesty, there were moments at the beginning where I considered putting the book down for it just seemed too repetitious. This quickly changed towards the middle of the book when it became addictive and a story I couldn't put down.
  2. Circe is emotional: Of course one can't be a realistic character without feeling a multitude of emotions, but Circe in the beginning phases of the novel can be just downright exhausting! Easily infatuated, naive, and selfish, she can definitely be a hard character to love and root for.
  3. Time jumping: "Circe" takes place over centuries, so of course there is going to be quick shifts in time. I just feel sometimes they were unclear just how quickly time moved. This did make reading a little frustrating at times if I was not fully emerged in the story or in a situation where distractions were present.

I thought once that gods are the opposite of death, but I see now they are more dead than anything, for they are unchanging, and can hold nothing in their hands.

— Madeline Miller, Circe

In Conclusion

"Circe" by Madeline Miller is a decent novel. It is certainly not the best I have ever read, but most definitely not the worst. The first half of the novel is a bit of a struggle, but once Circe begins to find herself and other excellently written characters make their appearance the story excels. So, if you are looking for an enjoyable stand-alone novel with an abundance of character development, exciting showcases from famous mythological figures, and jumps through time, then this book is not a waste of a read, and I guarantee you will genuinely enjoy this story.

Want a copy? Grab yours here, just click the title "Circe by Madeline Miller".

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