Madeline Miller’s Circe is a retelling of the ancient Greek myth of a witch with the powers of transformation. Born to Helios, the Titan god of the sun yet evidently without any powers of her own, Circe has a childhood in the shadows, largely unnoticed unless harassed. She discovers her magical abilities after picking flowers grown from the blood of gods and is cast down from the halls of the gods for her offense. Stranded on an island and forbidden to leave, a cast of characters from Greek mythology enter her story. Odysseus, Daedalus, Scylla, Hermes, Athena - all are intertwined, with her cunning and witchery at the center. Through her story, Circe demonstrates the duality of man - cruelty and manipulation mixed with care and love. By the end of the book, Circe has to decide where she wants to belong - and she must use all her tricks and risk her immortality in order to get there.
I really enjoyed this book. Portraying Circe as a desperate mother and goddess turns her into a likable protagonist as opposed to the savage pig-transforming witch classical mythology paints her as. I found the story a little dry and hard to get through in some parts but the comparative simplicity of language and accessible style of the author meant I could easily reach the interesting parts. I would recommend this book to anyone at all - especially if they enjoyed Madeline Miller’s other book, The Song of Achilles. No prior knowledge of mythology is really required at all, and anything necessary is explained within the book. I give it four out of five stars.