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.
Genre: Historical Fiction / Mythology / Retelling
Author: Madeline Miller
Audiobook: Published April 10th, 2018
By Hachette Audio
Mini Audiobook Review
Circe is a spectacularly ambient and atmospheric retelling full of mythological splendor. Longlisted for the 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction, it deserves a place on your tbr whether you know and enjoy mythology or are intimidated by it like I was. It simply is a beautiful and divine contribution to feminism.
Circe is the ridiculed sister of Aeëtes, Pasiphaë, and Perses; daughter of Helios, god of the sun and Perse, the beautiful but cold Oceanid naiad. She adores her father and is the most inquisitive little girl, but he does not pay her much attention. After all, she is but a goddess without any special powers.
Following betrayal and humiliation of broken first love, Circe is able to transform those that hurt her into different creatures and her father bans her to live on an island. There, she is all by herself, learning all she can about botany, herbs and creating tinctures, poisons, and spells. She practically takes years to perfect her craft, keeping and maintaining the land, shepherding the best sheep and living self-sustained.
Her life never becomes dull. Plenty of sea-faring men arrive on ships at her shores. First, they ask for rest and help and then they try to take advantage of her, a single woman on a large island. Those are the moments she tries out her abilities to transform men to pigs, kill men with poisoned wines or takes some of them to bed, occasionally. She is perfecting her skills.
There is always something to do on her island. She never fails to be busy. With another ship on the horizon, she is already poised about what is to come. Unlike all the others, this ship brings ashore a very special kind of man. With her interest peaked, they discover a mutual attraction. Although he is married and has a son, he stays with Circe for two seasons. When he leaves her, she bears a son who grows up to be the image of his father with the same thirst for adventure and conquer.
Circe’s life is turned upside down when her son travels to follow his heart for adventure but returns only with tragedy. Loss, change and new circumstance alter Circe’s life on the island until the moment comes when she will face her family to right what has been done wrong. Karma has a different fate in mind and brings unexpected guests to her island to stay. An exchange, friendship, and love are budding for Circe as her years are getting up there, and the once sweet little inquisitive girl finds peace and serenity in life.
I will admit, I am not well versed or read in mythology. Circe intimidated me when it first published in 2018. As it became available for audio on overdrive, I simply gave it a try without any pressure. I did not know if I would understand it, miss anything or even enjoy it. And to my surprise, it was absolutely lovely. The narrator was undoubtedly perfect. She made this novel an incredible experience and gave voice to Circe’s character, resilience, and passion. Superb.
Circe is a lovely journey to read. As it being my “first” in the Greek mythology genre (besides kids books, Homer's 'The Iliad' and 'The Odyssey' and tidbits of general knowledge) to read, I feel less intimidated but rather more interested. Madeline Miller also wrote “The Song of Achilles” which is highly praised as well. I am thinking I will definitely read it now too.
There have been fabulous reviews for Circe. Mine compares rather vain and lacks the actual knowledge or research of the mythology. Go ahead and read those as well. Let me assure you, Circe is not at all an intimidating story.