Review: Circe

Review: Circe

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.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY

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Review: The Book of M

Review: The Book of M

Rating: ★★★☆☆

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

A future where a global epidemic is spreading and causing the world’s population to lose their shadows and later their memories. Husband and wife duo Ory and Max have managed to hide from the brunt of the disasters. That is until Max loses her shadow. Armed with just a tape recorder to document her memories, Max leaves their abandoned hotel. And Ory sets out on a dangerous journey to reunite with his wife. The chapters alternate between the two and two others, another survivor and another person known as “The One Who Gathers.”

The Book of M is a messy read, and I mean that in a good way. A story where each chapter ends with another hundred questions to ask. We follow Ory and Max survive in different circumstances. Max is running anywhere Ory can’t find her and then goes in search with a group of people for a cure for her memory loss. Ory, in search of Max, ends up in various dangerous circumstances where he finally interacts with the world that he, up until now, had ignored under the safety of his area. He meets the good, the bad, makes new friends and finds old ones.

The Book of M was a strangely riveting read. The writing is vivid which compliments and adds the foreboding world building. The story starts with the world in an unknown position, and as the book switches between the four different perspectives, the world comes back to together, providing different views on a world almost forgotten. It read like a puzzle, one that slowly meshed together and once it did, it was an absolutely fantastic book to finish.

Overall, while I did have some issues with the pacing, especially towards the middle of the book, The Book of M was still an engaging and imaginative read.


GOODREADS | AMAZON BOOK DEPOSITORY

Content warning: blood, death, violence, the use of the “bury your gays” trope. I know I’m missing quite a bit but if you’ve read the book, please tell me if I’ve missed something out.

Book Review: The Poppy War

Book Review: The Poppy War

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Rin is only sixteen when she passes the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the best and brightest, and enters the Academy to escape an arranged marriage and finally prove herself worthy. However, passing the test and training at the academy, Rin learns, are two opposite things. Once she is there, she instantly targeted for her skin, her poverty and her gender. A war orphan from the Rooster Province should not last a day in the Academy. While a war grows between the Empire and the Federation of Mugen, Rin’s powers may be the only thing that can save her people. Until she learns that she holds a skill that could cost her the price of her humanity.

I do not doubt that this book will top most end of year lists. Believe the hype. It is truly worth it.

Check the content warnings at the end because The Poppy War is not a dull read. It is fast-paced, bloody and detailed with its scenes of violence. Fang ‘Rin’ Runin is an ambitious war orphan who blackmails her way into the Keju examination and is forced to contend with students whose privilege put their experience years before her own. Her drive to do better and take a reign in her life is compelling and fantastic to read.

The cast of characters we interact with are extraordinarily diverse and intricately detailed with complex and unique characterisations. You hate them on one page but slowly sympathise with the next. Their choices are dangerous but realistic. The story is uncomfortable but so real to read.

Many scenes are, I warn, very, very dark. Horrifically violent that felt physically ill to read at multiple points. If you have looked into the book world, The Poppy War is everywhere. Moreover, rightfully so. However, take note before you jump into this book.

The scale and depth of The Poppy War make this book nothing short of a masterpiece. The strong world-building with its detailed and crafted characters as they try to survive this brutal and devastating world.

I’m excited to see where it will go from here and what we will expect to see in future novels. Watch out for this series. It’s here to stay.


GOODREADS | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | AUTHOR SITE

Trigger/Content Warnings: self-harm, suicide, rape, sexual assault, murder, genocide, massacres, torture, mutilation, drug abuse, ableism, physical and emotional abuse.