Circe: Book review by Asha Seth

Review Available on: Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

Author: Madeline Circe| Genre: Mythology | Pages: 393

The Blurb:

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

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The Review:

A week before reading ‘Circe’ I read ‘A Song of Achilles’. I was not only impressed but so enchanted that I couldn’t wait to read ‘Circe’. Having finished reading it, I wonder if I really should have taken some time, read some other books, let the spell wear off, before pursuing it. Maybe, I should’ve. And it is because of the taste I had inculcated from ASOA that Circe couldn’t work its way to my heart.

One half of me loved Circe, and the other half didn’t. It is only while writing this review I realise how much I am at loggerheads with myself, considering this book. 

Talking about things I loved.

The protagonist is a powerful, no-nonsense, strong-headed, strong-willed woman. She is a god in love with mortals, she has powers that would make the best of Gods flinch. She is wisely written, beautifully crafted, everything about her seems in place. Actually, she is the perfect heroine who rises from ashes of her family’s disdain. But she is a survivor. She is a giver, a protector, a lover, a god still, under her skin. She ties all loose ends perfectly.

She lights up the worlds of those around her, and burns the less-worthy ones impeccably. You have to understand her to appreciate her – she is a woman of substance. The plot establishes her ground in the story and also that of the other Gods including the mighty Zeus, Helios, Athena, etc. very nicely. You see just how she grows from someone directionless to being the North Star for others. The diction is one that saved this prose for me. Madeline Miller knows to how to tug at hearts. One definitely does relate with Circe. Because even though a god-daughter, she is very human at heart.

Looking at things that fell part.

The writing lacked the magic. It didn’t feel the same pen had written ‘A Song of Achilles’. Circe was there as a character, but she didn’t feel real. By that I mean, I feel I don’t know her, after all. As though, the author held some bit of her back. But I did want to get to know her. Like a friend you’re introduced to at school. Now you see what their life is because they are around you, but they never really connect. Know what I mean? Maybe, it’s not that important to other readers because this book is anything but praises and five plus stars.

The prose got tad tedious to catch up with because I remember reading back stanzas to know what was happening. Too descriptive a narration in places that could’ve been shortened I feel. Too many characters who got in the way of the story, and that shifted my focus from the actual character. Yes, I know I did love ASOA which also has a huge character universe, but never did the plot feel sidelined. 

Like I said at the start, this is one of those books I’m most ripped to pieces for, for a just review. Maybe, reading it again, with an uninfluenced mind, might change my perception of it.

Lovers of Circe, please don’t reduce me to dust!

You can buy your copy of ‘Circe’ here.

Have you read ‘Circe’? How did you like it? Share your thoughts in comments below.

Happy reading till we meet next.

Until then, carpe diem! 🙂

~~~~~
© Asha Seth

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4 thoughts on “Circe: Book review by Asha Seth

Add yours

  1. I only just read Circe this year and was looking forward to it due to the female protagonist and promise of a more feminist approach to telling her story and slightly wary at the same time as I wasn’t a fan of The Song of Achilles. In the beginning I suspended judgement, the while section in the halls of the gods, wondering what was going to change to bring out her character and literally once she was exiled I was hooked. I think expectations have such an effect on our reading, I also enjoyed that I didn’t know her story prior to reading and afterwards read more about the author’s intentions from an interview in Goodreads and that too elevated my impression of it, post reading. I find that happens sometimes, it takes a while for the thoughts to settle and understand what we’ve just observed and how it triggers our own imagination, I was having a wild time imagining that island and might even read the new translation of The Odyssey that Miller mentions.

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“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” ― James A. Michener

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