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.

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This book is a perfect mixture of finding one’s individuality, growing to love oneself, and understanding how not everyone you share your blood with is the best person for you while practising witchcraft and finding the ones you want to care for because you simply love them.

Circe is a historical fiction that follows a witch and goddess as she grows through every century and every page of this tale.

This work of fiction, a retelling of the Greek witch & goddess, a dive into the historical fiction and mythology has become an absolute favourite of mine. But it was so much more too! It has feminist ideas spread through the centuries Circe lives. The way she’s adamant on thriving despite the hurdles gods put in her way, despite the men who consider her weak simply because she’s alone in her home, on her island is an inspiration wrapped in the mist of her spellbinding draughts. She’s a witch by will and learns her craft out of love for herself and then out of love for the ones she deeply feels for. 

The best aspect of this story has to be character development. Circe grows through each chapter, changes to be better, learns from her mistakes, and doesn’t shy away from owning her wrongdoings. While the book is simply 300+ pages, the story spans over centuries and you can almost feel the knowledge Circe has embedded as the time passed. Of course, huge credit should be given to the stunning writing. It’s one of those detailed prose that you can’t skim at any cost, for every line gives something new and is written with an emotion that is hard to miss.

The story itself is amazing too. The plot focuses on Circe but doesn’t recite her experiences alone. It even delves into the lives of other gods, other nymphs, other witches, other sailors, other kings and queens. The number of characters this book mentions for a story line that speaks of the lone witch of an island is surprising. There are names you think you won’t remember but Circe keeps connecting incidents to events and you’ll not only remember the names but will also not forget each little story she witnesses herself or hears from the ones recounting them.

Circe is a strong female character. If that’s not the most impressive bit of any book, I don’t know what is. She uses her knowledge as a witch to safeguard her island, herself, from the by-passers and all the gods who can’t stand the sight of her or the sound of her mortal voice. Not only this, her emotional meter doesn’t fall when she genuinely cares for her guests, finds solace with some, and always keeps her senses on alert. She even allows wolves and lions to roam around her house, to give a sense of protection to herself. And she stands strong against the biggest of gods and goddesses for the ones she love. It’s enchanting to read and that is how you appreciate her witchcraft even more.

my rating ↣ ★★★★★

Buy the book: Amazon US | Bookshop UK | Amazon IN


11 replies on “Book Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

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