Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
Madeline Miller creates a new voice in her second novel which follows the life of Circe, daughter of Helios, a goddess born with a human voice. Mocked for her lack of power in a world of Gods, Circe accidentally uncovers a skill that sees her banished forever to the island of Aiaia. She is upset, outcasted forever and alone, Circe turns to take revenge on those who wish to exploit her by transforming any ship of men who enter her island into a herd of pigs. But as time goes by, Circe finds that she can’t escape the world forever.
Miller clearly has a talent in giving a voice to characters not usually heard. I really loved how she reinterpreted the role of Cire. While making nods to other parts of Greek Mythology, Circe is clearly a story of its own, unpeeling the layers of Circe that make her a more substantial person than we see in The Odyssey.
The story of Circe explores the use of power and how it can be easily abused and while Circe’s transmutation power play an essential part so does her transformation as a character as she goes through independence, love and motherhood and how, despite it all, she still had hope. Like in The Song of Achilles, other key figures from Greek mythology are mentioned and also take centre stage without overpowering Circe’s story, including the well-known arrival of Odysseus and how their lives are changed from then on.
This book is thrilling with extreme drama Circe, and despite the constant presence of well-known characters like Zeus and Athena, Circe stands strong and finds her real place in a world where she’s told she’s nothing.
Overall, Miller’s ability to re-present the classics never fails to amaze me. Seven years since TSOA was first published, four years since I had read it, and I can definitely say that Circe was definitely worth the wait.