Bloomsbury Publishing | April 2018 | 352 pgs
Source: Library

Retellings can be tricky. Most often they offer a fresh perspective from the originals but if not done well they could be a miss. In Madeline Miller's Circe (Orange Prize-winning author of The Song of Achilles), I'm glad to say it not only offers an interesting perspective based from the Greek mythology but also it has a few underlying themes which I felt to be quite moving. 

Circe is the daughter of Helios. He is the god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans. Unlike her other siblings, Circe is often cast as an outsider due to her mortal voice. Her looks isn't outstanding and in the eyes of the gods, she is only a plain nymph and that she is noticeable because she is Helios' daughter. 
"The thought was 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."
Then an unexpected act out of anger and jealousy had her exiled in a remote island, Aiaia. Out of boredom, Circe finds herself immersed in growing herbs and making use of them in her witchcraft (a specialty which she isn't aware until later). The days go by and countless ships had stopped by her island and she'll give the sailors food and wine but she'll turn them into swine should they dare to touch her. Life goes on until mortal Odysseus' arrival disrupt her isolated life and to protect what she holds dear, Circe will have to decide between the deities world where she belongs and the mortals she has come to love and protect. 
"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."
Circe is a beautiful story. I loved Madeline Miller's storytelling and her prose; I loved that Circe has elements that vary from Greek mythology (yes, there are conflicts and there are obstacles which come in various forms) to coming-of-age and to love and kinship. Most of all, I liked Circe, the narrator, for her courage and her strong determination despite she made mistakes and that she is not afraid of dangers and consequences. Though a goddess, she has a mortal's heart which differ her from other deities. 

I could go on and on, but this is a story you have to read it yourself and experience the journey (all the more if you love Greek mythology). 

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16 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    I’ve been wondering about these books. I’ll probably try Circe since the Achilles story is too familiar to me. I know virtually nothing about Circe though so hopefully I’ll learn something new and enjoy it.

  2. jenclair Says:

    I'm so glad you liked it! It is one of my favorite myth re-tellings, and I was captivated throughout. Circe was so "human," and I loved her courage--and Madeline Miller's wonderful writing.

  3. Marg Says:

    I listened to the audio of this earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I need to go back and read her first book

  4. Kay Says:

    I do like Greek myths and had been trying to decide whether to try this one. I think I will based on your recommendation and also Jenclair's. :-)

  5. Melody Says:

    Jenny - I haven't read Archilles, so that'll be on my wishlist. Hope you'll enjoy this book if you get to it.

  6. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - Yes, everything is so wonderful about this book, isn't it? I need to try her other ook, The Song of Archilles.

  7. Melody Says:

    Marg - Exactly my thoughts!

  8. Melody Says:

    Kay - Looking forward to your thoughts when you do read it, Kay! :)

  9. Lark Says:

    I've heard good things about this book. Glad you liked it, too. Guess I'll keep it on my TBR list. :D

  10. Melody Says:

    Lark - I think you may like it, Lark. :)

  11. Verushka Says:

    This is one I have been so curious about, and unsure of whether I would like it or not -- thank you! This was such a great review to give some context to it.

  12. Melody Says:

    Verushka - Thank you, Verushka! I hope you'll enjoy it if you get to it.

  13. There seem to be a lot of re-tellings out there these days. I think you are right though--it can be tricky to do right. I am so glad this one was good. It is one I really want to read. I am kicking myself for not jumping on this when it was on NetGalley, but maybe I will get it as a gift for Christmas. :-)

  14. Melody Says:

    Wendy - I was late to the "party" too when this book was first released. Now I'm glad I've read it. Always good to be late than never, right? ;)

  15. Iliana Says:

    You're right, re-tellings can definitely be tricky but I've only heard rave reviews of this one so I am curious. It's got a beautiful cover too doesn't it? Great review, Melody!

  16. Melody Says:

    Iliana - Thanks, Iliana. Now that I enjoyed this book I'll have to check out this author's other books. :)

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