Circe by Madeline Miller is the retelling of a classic story of the mythical goddess named Circe. Most of us know of Circe from the The Odyssey which is another classic story. However, we only get a glimpse of Circe in The Odyssey as that is focused on Odysseus himself. With Circe by Madeline Miller, we get a firsthand look at just who Circe really is and how she came to be the witch of Aiaia. Another awesome part with this retelling is that I learned of how Circe was actually a part of other popular Greek mythology stories such as with Daedalus and the Minotaur. My personal suggestion is to read The Odyssey first before consuming Circe by Madeline Miller. I think it makes more sense to read and learn about the legend of Odysseus first because Circe is a complicated character that spans thousands of years. How can one simple mortal change her?
Honestly, while it was nice to learn of how Circe came to be the witch, I wasn’t exactly that surprised. When you constantly get shunned by Gods and Goddesses themselves, all of whom hold themselves to the highest of high standards, resentment brews deep within a person, Goddess or no. How Circe took it all and persevered through them was something else. She got that fiesty and rebellion edge to her that makes you want to root for her character if nothing more than to see her defiance to the Gods themselves.
Circe is told in the first person view of Circe herself. This made the story felt more personal as we get to witness her thoughts and inner feelings directly. The story spans thousands of years yet it doesn’t really feel like it. Exiled to her island, the story can sometimes get a bit monotonous. I felt that the novel could have been trimmed a bit so it wasn’t as long but this is by no means a slight to the author. Circe is an incredible story from start to finish. It provokes deeper thinking than your normal novels. In fact, I got a very similar vibe when I read The Mists of Avalon, which retells the Arthurian legend but through the eyes of a female lead character. At the heart of many legends and stories through time there are bound to be female characters behind the scenes that somehow, someway affected the main narrative. These stories, when retold from their perspective, gives us the readers a whole new view of these classics. Circe is just one of these examples. Fans of The Odyssey should definitely give Circe a read.
My only disappointment came from the ending. Although I was happy for Circe for pushing through, I felt that a more bitter ending would have been more appropriate. Circe to me felt more like a tragic story so maybe a bitter sweet ending would have suited it more. Nonetheless though, chalk this novel up as a winner. Fans of Greek mythology should definitely not skip this!