When I heard the first few beats and lines of Aquaman’s ‘Everything I Need’, I knew instantly that I was going to love that song. Similarly, when I read the sample of ‘Circe’ on my Kindle I knew I was going to love it. Just a few pages into the book and I couldn’t keep it down. Such an impression it left on me that I straight away ordered the hard copy and that too not just of ‘Circe’ but also Madeline Miller’s first book ‘The Song of Achilles’.
Circe is the story of a witch, a goddess who was banished by her own father for practicing magic to escape the probable wrath of Zeus. Living in complete isolation on a deserted island, Circe builds a world of her own and dwells like a queen amongst her uncommon tamed disciples. If you have ever read Greek mythology you will know that Greek gods can be extremely envious, cunning and vindictive at times. If you are not acquainted with that fact then, let Circe will open that door for you.
Circe by Madeline Miller
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.
When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.
There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
Breathing life into the ancient world, Madeline Miller weaves an intoxicating tale of gods and heroes, magic and monsters, survival and transformation.
(Blurb as on Amazon.in)
I LIKE ‘Circe’ Because,
…she is quite an interesting character. Rare is a mythological character who stays confined to an island, hardly ever steps out but still has a story to keep you invested all along. Circe can be gullible and conniving at the same time. Punished for possessing a natural talent that only a few are born with Circe does not fight her father’s decision but instead makes peace with her circumstances and lives a fulfilling life like a mortal. Despite the odds stacked against her, she creates a world of her own where she is the ultimate authority for her subjects on the island. As time changes so does Circe, as she learns a lot about the world and its people despite living like a castaway. The people she encounters on her island kind of shape her world as most of them leave her not without teaching something about life. Her story gets especially interesting when she finds love in Daedalus and Odysseus. Especially Odysseus who contributes majorly to Circe’s character growth. He offers her not just warmth and companionship but also a new outlook on life and people.
…if Circe’s story was interesting then Miller’s writing has to be credited for artfully shaping up such a fascinating character with her words. The more I praise Miller’s writing the less justice I feel I do. Being able to show the fictional world in your head to your readers requires some serious talent and skill. Miller does a fantastic job at world building. Her vivid graphic writing effortlessly transfers you to her imaginary island where you see the lonely Goddess Circe opening her door for strangers looking for temporary asylum. I can still recall clear images of several key incidents in the book which is only thanks to Miller’s exceptional writing prowess.
I Do NOT Like ‘Circe’ Because,
…the ending differs from what the Greeks generally believe in. Miller did the same with ‘The Song of Achilles’ in which she changed a very crucial element to the ending of the story. I would have not known this had I not had a Greek native for a friend. I asked my dear friend about the conclusion to Circe’s story and she said that the conclusion in the book is not what the Greeks mostly believe in and that the writer has taken the liberty at tweaking certain events. Since I am interested in Greek mythology I wish to stick to as authentic details as possible and hate it when the writer twists popular beliefs. Nonetheless, I have an authentic source to clear my doubts so I’m not complaining here. 🙂
Favourite Quotes in Circe
“He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.”
“Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.”
“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.”
“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.”
“That is one thing gods and mortals share. When we are young, we think ourselves the first to have each feeling in the world.”
Final View: I am in complete awe of Madeline Miller because I have absolutely loved both her books. Circe is an interesting Greek mythological character who will keep you invested in her story through and through. If mythology, magic, mystery, revenge, prophesy, and love interest you then ‘Circe’ can be your best bet.
You can check out Amazon.in for a discount on this book.