Circe is a lyrically written work of fiction, an expanded Greek Tragedy. It is filled with surprises and tragedies. Some your of your favorite Greek gods and titians of mythology show up at some point in the story. This is an interesting character piece that it takes a through a the decades long life of Circe, as she grows as a powerful goddess and also develops her humanity. This is book is about the life and times Circe a goddess that many called her a witch, her father is the Sun God Helios. She was a supporting character in Homer’s the Odyssey, but takes center stage here. Stories she interacts with are the Odyssey, and we get an expanded look at her days with Ulysses, and a different take on her changing his soldiers to pigs. Jason and the Argonauts as well as his bride Medea, The Minotaur, Trygon, Daedalus and his son Icrarus, and the creature Scylla.
The Plot is Circe is born a pretty much cursed from birth, she does not sound like the goddess that she is but like a mortal. Her brother and sister torment her, her parents are to consumed with their own legacy to pay any attention. One of her brother’s she practically raises and grows up treating her like a child. Despite the abuse she shows empathy and humanity that no other god’s or goddesses seem to possess. The story really pick up when Circe fall for a mortal fisherman, it is forbidden for her to lie with a mortal, so she finds a way using a flower that sprouted from the God Kronos’ blood to turn him into a god. This plan backfires when with his new powers looks to love with another goddess. But Circe takes her revenge on the girl turning her into a hideous creature. she comes clean on all that she has done and find out that flowers can’t just change a god, but it took her powers of witchcraft. She is then banned to her own island for all eternity, but fate and the gods and goddesses aren’t done with her. She is confronted by past actions, is continually tested by her new growing powers, and her humanity is continuously tested.
What I liked: this book is beautifully written. Circe is a written as a complex character and perfectly fits into todays women’s movement. I liked the Myth retellings. Miller changed the Ulysses and Circe’s first meeting over turning his men to pigs, but it really fit the story and Circe’s evolving character. I liked what she did with the rest of Ulysses story after the Odyssey ended. My favorite part was Circe and the Trygon story, I felt like such an appropriate new myth.
What I disliked: The beginning was a little unfocused, I wish it was more about Circe, then showing the world of god’s and titans. I wish this part was spent with Circe interacting with the gods instead of just observing. Circe is visited by god and Goddesses later in the story but, we never saw her interaction before so it takes a second to get acquainted, and then we have to get a quick backstory of who their father is and how powerful they are. I thought the Penelope, Ulysses wife, story involving her finding out his identity by moving the bed could have been used, and how it related to their solid relationship, but it wasn’t, and I felt it was a missed opportunity. But I didn’t fault her for that.
I did enjoy this one and highly recommend it it is easily in my top five novels from 2018. I will state that I have a general knowledge of mythology through reading the Odyssey in college and various movies and tv shows I have watched over the years, and I was not lost. I even impressed myself about how much I foresaw just a name mentioned. I did fail to miss one of the names early on which would have been a huge twist, so I’m glad I forgot that one. I will say there is rape and beastieality for those that are sensitive to that, it is not graphic thankfully, but should be mentioned. That being said do yourself a favor and check this novel out. I rated it 4.3 stars out of 5.