“But there was something in me that was sick of fear and awe, of gazing at the heavens and wondering what someone would allow me.”
In her own take on the greek myth, Madeline Miller gives us the story of Circe. The sorceress and daughter of Helios, the god of the sun, is most known for the role she played in the famous tale of Odysseus. But this story is all her own. Born without the look and voice of a goddess, she is ignored, taunted, and isolated by her siblings and family as a whole. Slowly over time, Circe discovers her own power and talent with witchcraft. When she casts a dark spell and her true nature comes to light, she is banished to an island where she is to spend her life in exile. Over the years she develops her skills of witchcraft and many gods and mortals pass the shores of her island. What unfolds is the story of Circe, one that is uniquely her own.
I found this to be a compelling and, at times, gripping novel that I could happily read for hours. It does not focus on one particular aspect of Circe’s life, such as her time with Odysseus, which is what she is known for. Instead it is her life story, as told by her, and all the moments that influenced who she was. Some aspects of her story I enjoyed more than others, and the novel did feel slow in certain parts where I didn’t feel as much of an interest. However, what really made this a notable read for me was Circe herself, and this vulnerability and desire to belong yet not feeling at home with gods or mortals. The author does an exceptional job of making Circe and her voice the focus of the novel, and no event or venture takes away from her narrative. I absolutely loved the little moments of her finding her voice, her strength, and realizations of what no longer served her: “Amusement flashed in his eyes. I had fed off that look once, when I had been starving and thought such crumbs a feast.”
Circe is a beautiful novel and one I will absolutely revisit. I have heard that the audiobook version is phenomenal and plan to explore it in that format as well. 🙂