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My Review | Circe

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.

After The Song of Achilles, I read and review Madeline Miller’s other classic, Circe. The story of Circe is a tale that is woven within many Greek stories. She is the daughter of Helios, God of the Sun, with no other substance to her. But she discovers she has the ability of witchcraft and soon she starts to question where her allegiance aligns: with the gods or with the mortals she has come to love?

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

Circe is a demigod with little prospects. She is seen as uninteresting by her family and everyone pays little attention to her. Soon she falls in love with a mortal man and manages to find a way to change him into a god. Under the assumptions that he is going to marry her. But when he admits that he has fallen in love with the beautiful nymph, Scylla, something changes inside of her. Scylla’s beauty is the price for Circe’s pain, when she finds a way to transform her to a monster. When Circe confesses, Helios banishes her to a lonely island where she is expected to live out her days. 

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The irony is she enjoys the solitude. She even remarks about how her family considers her not being their presence punishment. I thought that was a great way to see Circe’s personality were those little moments of her poking fun or just feeling her true self when she isn’t under pressure. Her life of solitude is ironically not so solitude when she has to leave to either help her sister give birth to the Minotaur or sketchy men try to take advantage of her when she gives them shelter and food. 

This is where we see the infamous Circe from the story of the Odyssey, the witch who turns Odysseus’s men into pigs while they slowly fall in love. We see these little callbacks throughout the story. I don’t know too much of Circe’s lore so that’s fun for me to learn as I skim through the story! The only draw back is that there are so many different versions of the same story. So I’m going to just stick with Madeline Miller’s for the time being. 

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For the duration of the story, Circe is in a constant battle with herself. When she finally finds her voice, her true power, it’s both upsetting and exciting. From turning mortals into Gods and turning nymphs into monsters, Circe is starting to get her footing in the world. But at the expense of losing the only life she knows. I love how earnest she is about this. Of course, she’s confused and scared at first. But once she gains confidence it’s apparent this the life she’s always wanted. She’s not afraid to stand up for herself. Her power grows stronger and stronger, proving even more Zeus’s reasoning for banishing her.

While I enjoy the pace of the story it can get a bit boring. There are moments where it’s just Circe enjoying herself on her island. But that’s when Miller’s word choice shines. She has the amazing power to create these beautiful scenes within her sentences that are so clear. Truly love her writing style and her amazing characterization skills throughout her stories. Circe is a strong woman who won’t let anyone stand in her way, even the Gods themselves. Her powers are impressive, her heart is caring, and she’s constantly torn between her demigod past and helping the mortals that are seen as disposable.

“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 by Madeline Miller is an enjoyable experience! I don’t read fantasy books often but when I do it’s by Madeline Miller. Her stories are interesting and her characters are fun to read! The adventures are wild, the ones where I’m on the edge of my seat. Circe is strong, powerful, and smarter than people give her credit for. I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys anything Greek history, Greek Gods, or anything witchy.

MY RATING:

5/5

MY RATING:

5/5

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Hey! I’m Peri McKinnis

Peri McKinnis of Peri Reads

I’m a creative, I’m a dreamer, and I’m an Aries. I’ll read any book with enough convincing, I enjoy weird movies, and I’m a caffeine fiend. From the day that I brought my first book catalog home from school I knew that books were going to have a special place in my heart. Now I want to spread that love here, to talk about the books that made us cry, fall in love, and scorn because we couldn’t finish them. 

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